(Reuters) - Led by its fabulous freshman guards, Duke clawed its way back from a second-half deficit and stung Wisconsin 68-63 to claim the U.S. collegiate national championship on Monday.
Tyus Jones scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and unsung first-year player Grayson Allen sparked the Blue Devils with 16 as Duke took the title in Indianapolis giving coach Mike Krzyzewski a fifth national championship. Krzyzewski is now second all-time to John Wooden who owns the record with 10 titles.
“All of them are great. The one you’re in this moment with is always the most current and you can feel it the best,” Krzyzewski told reporters.
“We were dead in the water (tonight) and Grayson put us on his back, got us in striking distance and then we just said ‘Tyson, be you’ That’s great coaching, I guess.”
Duke’s triumph was very much in doubt midway through the second half where Wisconsin held a 48-39 advantage with 13:23 remaining, and Duke’s top big men Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow on the bench.
That is when Allen, who came in averaging just four points per game, scored eight straight points to spark an 11-3 run that got them back in the game.
Jones did the heavy lifting from there, making a go-ahead three-pointer with about four minutes left which started a 10-0 spurt that sealed the contest.
“My team mates and the coaching staff have given me confidence and believed and trusted in me all year,” said Jones, named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. “That’s the biggest thing about this team, we never want to let each other down.”
Wisconsin was seeking its first national title since 1941, but fell short despite 21 points from standout Frank Kaminsky who was recently named the College Player of the Year.
The Badgers reached the title game by shocking previously undefeated Kentucky in the Final Four game on Saturday.
After the loss, 31 people were arrested near the University of Kentucky on charges including public intoxication and disorderly conduct when hundreds of fans flooded the streets around the school’s Lexington campus.
A heavy police presence on Monday greeted raucous but peaceful Badgers fans, who took to the streets of Madison near the Wisconsin campus after the final loss. Police reported no major incidents and two arrests in bars before 11:00 p.m. local time.
A massive crowd celebrated the win with a bonfire on Duke’s campus, according to a picture published by the university on its Twitter account. Durham police dispatchers said they had received no reports of arrests or injuries as of midnight local time.
Reporting by Mary Reardon, Curtis Skinner and Jahmal Corner. Editing by Patrick Johnston