Duke wins its fifth national title with 68-63 win over Wisconsin
A riveting title game for the ages between two No. 1 seeds played out on Monday night inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A riveting title game for the ages between two No. 1 seeds played out Monday night inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Duke claimed the 2015 championship trophy with a 68-63 win over Wisconsin. It gives the Blue Devils program and its Hall of Fame coach, Mike Krzyzewski, five national titles.
The win puts Coach K at second all-time for championships in men's basketball; UCLA legend John Wooden holds the record with 10.
The heady play of freshman guards Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen keyed Duke to its comeback win. Jones had a game-high 23 points.
"My teammates," Jones responded when asked how he handled the pressure down the stretch. "My teammates and the coaching staff have given me confidence and believed in me and trusted me all year. There's never been a moment where they doubt me. They trusted me to make a play and that's the biggest thing about this team: We never want to let one another down."
And Allen came out of nowhere, relatively speaking, to score 16.
"First of all, these guys love Grayson," Krzyzewski said. "We were kind of dead in the water. We were nine points down and Grayson just put us on his back."
The Blue Devils trailed by as many as nine points before storming back.
And two huge plays from Duke freshman big man Jahill Okafor got Duke from 59-58 to 63-58, giving the team separation it needed to avoid a threat from offensively potent Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's senior center and national player of the year, Frank Kaminsky, led his team with 21 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
"What a fantastic job these guys did all year," Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. "They just came together to do all the things that they accomplished. Highest offensive efficiency. A team that committed the least number of fouls during the year. A team that got to the free-throw line. So these guys played 30-some games that way. It's just unfortunate that this one had to be played out that way."
Jones hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:20 left to put Duke up by eight. Kaminsky was able to keep Wisconsin in it after draining a trey on the next possession, cutting it to 66-61.
Duke was hampered by foul trouble throughout the second half for its two projected lottery picks; Okafor and Justise Winslow each had three fouls with just over 13 minutes to go. Okafor picked up his fourth with 9:18 left. It was just the fifth time this season Okafor carried four fouls, and two of those games game against Wisconsin.
The Badgers, who were the best in college basketball at not fouling, were called for 13 second-half fouls after being whistled just twice in the first 20 minutes. Tied at 31 at the half, with 13 lead changes, it was the first time since 1988 and fourth time ever the NCAA Tournament title game has been tied at the break.
After chasing Wisconsin for 13 minutes in the second half, Duke tied it for the first time after the break on a Jones jumper to make it 54-54 with 7:03 to go. Two possessions later, an Allen contested runner gave the Blue Devils the lead. He cracked double figures for just the fifth time this season.
Jones, who has hit clutch shot after crazy shot this season for Duke, was the reason the Devils won this game. The smallest player on the floor made the biggest difference and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
"It's hard to put it into words," Jones said. "This is just such a special group. The best team I've ever been a part of. We've worked hard all year. This has been our one goal that we were working for. No matter if it was getting up extra shots or extra running, trying to get in better shape, tough practices, just believing in one another, believing in coach, everything they were telling us, because we knew at the end if we did accomplish this, it was all going to be worth it."
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