National title lives up to hype: Duke downs Wisconsin

By Harrison Slaughter – jslaught@unca.edu – Sports Editor | April 8, 2015 |

With a little more than 13 minutes left in regulation, the University of Wisconsin looked to be on their way to winning their first national championship since 1941. They led the Duke University Blue Devils by nine, their largest lead of the night.

The Badgers were then introduced to Grayson Allen, the least talked about of Duke’s heralded freshman class.

Allen gave Duke a much needed spark off the bench to help lead Duke to the national title.

The Blue Devils and the Badgers battled for much of the first half, exchanging the lead back and forth. There were 11 lead changes in the first half alone.

Justise Winslow, forward for the Blue Devils, and Jahlil Okafor, center for the Blue Devils, battled foul trouble throughout the first half spending most of the time on the bench.

Winslow and Okafor had been Duke’s most reliant scoring options throughout the tournament, so the Blue Devils would need to find some points from somewhere in a hurry.

The game still seemed to be leaning in Duke’s favor until Matt Jones, guard for the Blue Devils, missed a 3-pointer with 6:22 left in the game that would have put Duke up nine.

That miss led to a 7-0 run for the Badgers to give them a 24-23 lead. Duke and Wisconsin exchanged baskets for the rest of the half to go into the locker room knotted up at 31.

Wisconsin opened the second half on a 17-8 run to take a nine-point lead with 13:23 remaining in the game.

Badgers, meet Grayson Allen. Allen, say hello to the Badgers.

With Okafor and Winslow still battling foul trouble, Duke looked to an unlikely hero to

change the game. Allen came off the bench to score eight straight points to pull the Blue Devils within one.

Frank Kaminsky, center for the Badgers, followed that up with a lay-up plus the foul to put Wisconsin back up by four and give Okafor his fourth foul and send him back to the bench. Kaminsky finished the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Allen then gave Duke the lead on a driving lay-up with 5:29 left in the game. Allen saved the game from getting out of control, but then it was up to Tyus Jones, guard for the Blue Devils, to win the game.

Jones has come up big in every one of Duke’s critical games, so it was fitting when Jones hit two 3- pointers and iced the game at the free throw line, guiding Duke and Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski to a fifth national championship.

This moves Coach K into second on the list of coaches with the most national titles, behind only John Wooden, which cements him as the greatest coach of the modern era.

More than likely, four of Duke’s starting five will be gone to the NBA next year, leaving their roster looking a lot different, but for this moment, the Duke Blue Devils are the belle of the ball.

 

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