The Duke Blue Devils will continue to dance! As they defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 78-69. Four of their starters, in forwards Paolo Banchero (16 points), Adrian Griffin (18 points), and Wendell Moore (14 points) scoring in double figures, and center Mark Williams (12 points) who has been a menace on the glass (7.7 RPG) for the Blue Devils and has done a excellent job protecting the rim by swatting or altering opponents shots (4.3 BPG). The Blue Devils played excellent basketball, basically keeping control of the lead throughout the game with the Razorbacks only once whittling a 12 point lead down to five in what seemed to be a turn in momentum.
However, the Blue Devils did not let up, continuing to battle and were excellent from the free throw night all night by shooting 16-of-19 from the charity stripe (88.9%), while also shooting over 54% from the field. The Blue Devils did have 15 turnovers though, something they will have to clean up if they look to achieve their ultimate goal of sending coach Mike Krzyzewski into retirement with a national championship.
Arkansas struggled from the field, shooting just 42% from the field, and 30% from behind the arc, which wasn’t going to get it done against a Duke team that was red hot from all over the floor. Players in double figures for Arkansas were guards JD Notae and Stanley Umude with 14 each, as well as forward Jaylin Williams who finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three assists in 34 minutes of action.
However, Duke would come up with the victory to head to New Orleans for Krzyzewski’s 13th Final Four, surpassing John Wooden’s former record of 12. Krzyzewski stated how proud he was of his team by stating, “I feel so good about my guys. In this NCAA tournament, my team is just playing such good basketball in pressure situations. They were a close team before the NCAAs, but during these last four games, they’ve been terrific.”
Duke will now await the winner of the underdog darlings in Saint Peters, who have had a magical NCAA Tournament run, or their longtime historic rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels. If the Tar Heels win, it will be the first NCAA Tournament meeting between the Tobacco Road rivals, but if this NCAA Tourney run by Duke is any indication of what’s to come, the rest of the field better watch out.