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Duke Was Golden In The Clutch Against Texas Tech

What a night by the Blue Devils

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament West Regional-Texas Tech vs Duke
Mar 24, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Theo John (12) and forward AJ Griffin (left) reacts after a play against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the second half in the semifinals of the West regional of the men’s college basketball NCAA Tournament at Chase Center. 
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Duke defeated Texas Tech 78-73 Thursday night to advance to the Elite Eight, where they’ll play Arkansas Saturday.

Duke shot lights out down the stretch, making big shot after big shot and they needed every single one of them.

Forget every notion you may have heard about Duke being a Cadillac team or some such. This was a tough, gritty, street-fight game against a team whose much-hyped defensive prowess was no hype.

Still, Duke made its last eight shots from the field to build a modest lead and hit 5 of 6 from the line over the final 25 seconds to make it hold up.

Duke shot 52 percent from the field for the game, an astonishing 71 percent from the field in the second half against what is statistically the best defense in the country.

It certainly took Duke some time to get it figured out. Duke shot air-balls on three of its first four possessions and then had two live-ball turnovers that led to fast-break baskets and Mike Krzyzewski was forced to call timeout with his team down 10-2 barely four minutes into the game.

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.

And Duke was punched in the face.

But they responded after one of the best timeouts of Krzyewski’s career. Duke made its first four shots after the timeout and tied the game at 12-12.

“Those first four minutes, we weren’t ready for that level of expertise on defense and their strength” Krzyzewski said after the game. “After that I thought we played well.”

But Duke could not get over the hump, not in the first half anyway. After a brief Duke lead the Red Raiders methodically built their lead back to 33-26, with a minute left in the half as Duke again went cold from the field.

Banchero made what might have been the biggest play of the game, an old-fashioned three-point play inside that made it 33-29 at the half and kept Duke in contact.

“The end of the half was critical,” Krzyzewski said. “They had a seven-point lead and we were able to score and then not let them score.”

Krzyzewski had another trick up his sleeve. Duke came out in the second half and played zone. Lots and lots and lots of zone.

Why zone?

“We practiced it a little bit during the year,” Krzyzewski said, “where our guys just know to keep the wings high. It kept down the amount of physicality and because they were wearing us down, the zone gave us a chance to kind of dance around the ring a little lit instead of being in the corner.”

The zone helped keep the game close. Still, Duke was playing uphill much of the second half, never behind by very much but behind nonetheless. Tech led 35-31, 44-38, 46-40.

Duke caught up at 47-47 on an A.J. Griffin triple and it was back-and-forth and forth-and-back.

Banchero was spectacular for Duke during this span, a how-did-he-see-that assist to Griffin for the tying 3-pointer, then 10 points in less than nine minutes.

“Paolo did a couple of things tonight he’s never done in his life,” Krzyzewski said “and he did it instinctually. He just wanted to win so badly. I’ve been around so many good players and when they go into their own thing, where it’s stuff you can’t teach them, that’s what he did.”

“There’s no bigger moment than this,” Banchero said. “I don’t know about these guys but I’ve never played in a basketball game like that. When you’re out there, you’re not even thinking, you’re just playing to win and you’re playing extremely hard. When you’re doing that and you’re not afraid of the moment as a team you’re going to do stuff like that.”

Duke went back to man-to-man for the final few minutes. Krzyzewski said the players suggested the switch and owned it.

Banchero teed it up for Jeremy Roach to do his thing. Roach hit a lay-up to put Duke up 66-65, with 3:35 left. Kevin McCullar hit a 3 for Tech but Banchero answered for Duke. Roach rebounded a Mark Williams block and hit a jumper and then another jumper after a Banchero steal and it was 73-68 Blue Devils, with 1:33 left.

“The resolve of Jeremy Roach was incredible,” Krzyzewski said. “His drives against that defense were so strong, so determined.”

“Just trusting your work,” Roach said.

Duke finished it up from the line.

Banchero led Duke with 22 points but all five starters scored in double digits, Roach 15 points and 5 assists, Mark Williams 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, Wendell Moore, Jr. 12 points, Griffin 11 points and 7 rebounds.

Krzyzewski described his 100th NCAA Tournament win as “a tremendous game” and I don’t think he’ll get an argument from anyone.


Player Of The Game vs. Texas Tech

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    AJ Griffin
    (5 votes)
  • 17%
    Paolo Banchero
    (365 votes)
  • 1%
    Mark Williams
    (33 votes)
  • 78%
    Jeremy Roach
    (1612 votes)
  • 0%
    Theo John
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Bates Jones
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Trevor Keels
    (4 votes)
2045 votes total Vote Now