Duke beats Texas Tech 78-73 sending Coach K to Elite 8

SAN FRANCISCO – Mike Krzyzewski has spent more than four decades at Duke telling his players what to do, with championship-level results.

With his Hall of Famer career threatening to come to an end, Krzyzewski let his players dictate game-ending defensive strategy, switching from an uncharacteristic zone defense to Duke’s famous man-to-man.

The key defense stops and two late baskets by Jeremy Roach Krzyzewski pushed his retirement season back to a win on his record-breaking 13th trip to the Final Four with a 78-73 win over Texas Tech on Thursday night.

Krzyzewski said the players came up to him like a “Catholic boys’ choir” during a late timeout and together begged for the man substitution that led to three straight stoppages and turned the game in Duke’s favor.

“With this team they are so young and still growing,” said Krzyzewski. “Whenever they can own something, they will do it better than if we just operate it. When they said that, I felt like they would own it. You’ll make it work, and that’s probably more important than strategy at this time. That’s how I looked at it.”

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Roach did the rest with two jumpers during a 7-0 run as the perennial runner-up came through in the clutch for a second straight game to put second-place Duke (31-6) in an elite eight matchup against fourth-place Arkansas to send.

Paolo Banchero led Duke with 22 points, Mark Williams had 16 and Roach added 15 as the Blue Devils made their final eight shots from the field to hold off third-place Texas Tech (27-10) and Coach K’s record 100th game .NCAA tournament bring victory.

“I would say throughout the year we have always improved in the biggest moments and there is no greater moment than this,” said Banchero. “I don’t know about these guys, but I’ve never played in a basketball game like this.”

As compelling as the on-court action was in this thrilling West Region semi-final, the history of that Blue Devils run surrounded their Hall of Fame coach’s farewell tour.

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Krzyzewski announced last June that he would retire after this season. After missing last year’s tournament, Duke was back with a roster full of NBA prospects and poised to give Krzyzewski his sixth title.

Duke played from behind for most of the first half but was much sharper offensively in the second half. Williams came free for three easy baskets early in the half to get the Blue Devils rolling.

Then the vociferous Duke contingent, available for the first NCAA tournament games in San Francisco since 1939, made their presence known mid-half when AJ Griffin leveled the game with his third 3-pointer at 47 and Banchero with a knight followed, the Duke brought the victory the lead.

But a Red Raiders team with four super seniors and five players with 120+ career games didn’t walk away and the game stayed tight as Duke used the zone to negate Texas Tech’s strength advantage.

“They have a Hall of Fame coach in Coach K over there and he was trying to find a way to slow us down because we were scoring,” guard Adonis Arms said. “I just think if we had just recognized it a little bit quicker it would have been fine. But it was a great transition from Coach K.”

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Kevin McCullar and Banchero traded 3s with Banchero’s long-range shot to put Duke up 69-68 with less than three minutes to play.

At this point, Duke switched back to man defense. Roach made two jumps and the defense did the rest, with Krzyzewski even throwing in a patented Duke floor slap for good measure. Bryson Williams had blocked a shot from Mark Williams, made a turnover and shot an airball.

“The smack on the floor, what the hell? “Why not?” said Krzyzewski. “Our guys really wanted that because it’s kind of a bridge to the fraternity. You can say they did that now.”

Griffin’s two free throws with 12.9 seconds left gave Duke a 77-73 lead. Arms then missed a 3-pointer and Krzyzewski gave an emphatic fist pump to celebrate his 17th trip to the Elite Eight.

Bryson Williams scored 21 points to lead Texas Tech and McCullar added 17. Kevin Obanor had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double in six tournament games of his career.

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BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: Coach Mark Adams’ first season was a notable one as he brought in four senior transfers after taking on a thinned-out roster after Chris Beard left for Texas. The Red Raiders have made it to their third sweet 16 in the last four tournaments.

“I thought it was an incredible year,” Adams said. “It’s just a team that has reached all sorts of heights that nobody ever thought possible.”

Duke: The Blue Devils shouldered a great deal of responsibility as they attempted to cap off Krzyzewski’s final season with a championship. The youngsters showed nerve early on, missing four of five shots and losing three possessions, leading to a quick time-out from Krzyzewski. They quickly calmed things down and got back into the game straight away, but struggled to generate consistent offense until the second half.

BLOCK OR CHARGE?

There was a light-hearted moment in the first half when Roach came up with a loose ball and tried to put it on the pitch in turns. Roach stepped to the sidelines and then ran into an official before falling right next to Duke’s bench.

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However, the official decided that the ball should go back to Texas Tech Krzyzewski jokingly gave a sign instead for a blockade by the referee.

NEXT

Duke plays Arkansas for a place in the Final Four on Saturday. The only previous tournament meeting between the schools came in the 1994 title game, which Arkansas won 76-72.

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https://www.local10.com/sports/2022/03/25/duke-beats-texas-tech-79-74-to-send-coach-k-to-elite-8/ Duke beats Texas Tech 78-73 sending Coach K to Elite 8

Joel McCord

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