There’s no guarantee that Duke will win Saturday, let alone win it all. But what we saw in this 78-73 win over Texas Tech is a team growing up in real time and reaching for championship form. What we saw against Michigan State, and now Thursday against a great - not good, great - team that - is a Duke team with incredible heart and in the case of Jeremy Roach, the heart of a lion.
Let’s go back to Texas Tech. That team is something else. It’s like Virginia with a more promiscuous offense. They’re an amazing group and Mark Adams has done a brilliant job. When we heard they hired a 64-year-old assistant to replace Chris Beard after he took the Texas job, honestly?
We sneered. What could you expect from that?
Well only this: greatness. The guy is a tremendous coach and his players bought in completely. We can’t overstate how much we admire Adams and his team.
But his team didn’t have Roach, Mark Williams and Paolo Banchero and those guys were unbelievable.
Roach has grown so much in the postseason that it’s hard to believe he’s the same player. He was a bit shaky as a freshman, then solid this year then he had a streak where he basically didn’t turn the ball over for a very long time and then this? Taking over games? Playing with almost Laettner-level swagger?
We never saw it coming.
And what about Williams, just pounding down dunks and taking out shots? And Banchero getting ruthless?
And it obviously wasn’t easy because that defense is as ferocious as advertised. The Red Raiders opened the game like they wanted to rip Duke’s head off.
But Duke stabilized and got through the half and shot - we heard this on TV but haven't confirmed it - 71 percent - in the second.
Against that defense.
And still won by just five.
Because Texas Tech is that good. They have that much heart.
When Roach missed his final two free throws, he left the door open, and after Adonis Arms hit a huge three to cut it to two, the Red Raiders nearly got the inbounds back but fouled Wendell Moore in the process.
It was that close. They’re really a lot like Virginia and you have to think that UVA prepared Duke for a game like this. We take back all our snarky comments about how Virginia plays. Thanks guys!
With Arkansas taking out Gonzaga and Houston taking out Arizona, suddenly, a bit shockingly, Duke is one of the highest-rated teams left in the field.
And of course, Coach K’s career will last at least one more game as Duke advances to the Elite Eight to take on the Razorbacks Saturday.
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Player Of The Game vs. Texas Tech
This poll is closed