INDIANAPOLIS – The Duke Blue Devils defeated the Butler Bulldogs to claim the schools and Mike Krzyzewski’s fourth national championship on Monday evening in Indianapolis.
The game went down to the wire as Gordon Hayward’s sixty foot shot bounded off the glass and Duke held on for life for a classic national final win. The Blue Devils immediately took to mid court, hugs everywhere before the Blue Devils watched CBS’s “One shining moment.”
There was no reason for the hometown favorite Butler Bulldogs to hold their heads down, for they played good enough to win but fell just short. The Bulldogs had a fabulous season, one they’ll remember for years to come and they fought the tradition-laden Blue Devils tooth and nail until the buzzer sounded.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in eight national championship games and this was a classic. This was the toughest and best one,” said Krzyzewski who tied Adolph Rupp with four national titles.
He remains first in NCAA tournament wins with 77 and has twelve Final Four wins, second only to John Wooden of UCLA. Krzyzewski is now 4-4 in national championship games.
Kyle Singler led the way for Duke with 19 points and 9 rebounds and his defense helped hold Butler star Gordon Hayward to 2 of 11 shooting from the field. Hayward ended the game with 12 points as did Shelvin Mack.
“When I saw Hayward’s shot bounce off the rim, the team came together in a special moment,” said Singler.
Jon Scheyer finished his Duke career with a 15 point effort to go with a team high 5 assists. “They were tough and I can only imagine how they feel especially with an end like that.
For Scheyer, the end means a national championship just as it does for fellow seniors, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas.
Once again, Zoubek led the team in rebounding with ten and that earned him the praise of Krzyewski. “I thought Zoubs on his out of bounds defense was great and then he adjusts and alters the shot, getting the rebound was so fitting for Zoubek. Brian elevated out team over these last seven weeks to where we have a chance to play and win a national championship.”
Krzyzewski also defended Brian when a media member asked him about his up and down career. That’s just Krzyzewski protecting his players and wanting Brian to be questioned about his play this season and not the past.
Thomas added six points and he finally cracked a smile at game’s end. Thomas has been intense throughout the tournaments and he now has the coveted national championship ring.
The Blue Devils bench did not score but they provided breaks for the starters. If you were told the bench would not score, you would have likely thought Duke lost, but that is a testament to the veteran leadership.
After being out rebounded in the first half, Duke hit the glass better in the second half and that was a huge key in a tight game. The final margin was 37 to 35 in the Blue Devils favor.
Duke finishes a special season with a 35-5 record and the team will now return to Durham for a raucous celebration.
BDN has been on the Duke beat all season long and we’ll have more to come on the Blue Devils’ fabulous March. After all, the road ends in Indianapolis and Duke was the last team standing.