After a long season focused on a single goal, Duke can now celebrate as the national champion. The Blue Devils cut the nets down and won their elusive third national championship under coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has tied his college coach, Bob Knight, and trails only John Wooden (10) and Adolph Rupp (4) in national titles as a coach.
|Mike Dunleavy was hot in the second half and paced Duke to a 10-point win in the national championship game.|
What a beautiful ride led by their superstar, Shane Battier, who came back to school for the one item that was missing from his incredible resumé: a national title. He got it Monday night.
Battier played extremely well, especially down the stretch when he scored 10 points and finished with 18 for the game (plus 11 rebounds). He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
But the play of Mike Dunleavy especially lifted Duke in the second half. Dunleavy performed brilliantly, scoring 18 points (21 for the game) after a poor performance against Maryland and a 1-for-7 first half. Did he ever respond, though. He knocked down three big trifectas in less than a minute and hit a career-high five overall.
Speaking of the trifecta, Jason Williams hit a monster three late in the game -- overall he hit just 2-of-11 threes -- that increased the Blue Devils' lead to eight and took the heart out of Arizona.
It was the shot that sealed the W for Duke. Carlos Boozer also delivered a strong performance with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Let the celebration begin at Cameron Indoor Stadium!
Arizona turned in a gutty performance. Twice they came back from double-digit deficits to cut the lead to three in the second half. But that's as close as they could get.
Loren Woods stepped up big with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Richard Jefferson also showed his athletic ability with 19 points, including 4-of-8 trifectas.
But Arizona's perimeter game was really stifled by the Blue Devils' defense. The Wildcats went 6-for-28 between Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner. Arizona shot 4-for-22 from behind the arc (Gardner was 0-for-8) and that's not going to get you to the winner's circle.
This was a great matchup between two super programs, two super coaches, two absolutely elite teams. They stood toe-to-toe in a heavyweight classic.
But Duke now stands tall as the national champs, as projected by the ESPN Basketball Yearbook. That's three years in a row that we've called the title-winner at the beginning of the year. We're chasing John Wooden's record of seven national championships in a row!