The full drama and spectacle of the 2015 NCAA Tournament has reached its climax. The Duke Blue Devils, thanks to the unexpected heroics of a reserve player, rallied in the second half of the Finals to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers, 68-63. On one hand the Blue Devils are now filled with triumphant jubilation, while on the other the Badgers go home with heartbreak. Still, this was one exciting and hard-fought game.
Kaminsky vs. Okafor
Much has been discussed about how the performances of both big men would impact the outcome of this game. Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky came to play and he brought his “A” Game with him. He led the Badgers with a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 boards in 39 minutes. Okafor, on the other hand, was plagued with foul trouble for most of the game and finished with 10 points and three rebounds. When Okafor was sent to the bench after being called for his fourth foul, his teammates rallied and came up big when it really counted. Okafor scored only four points in the second half, but those four points came in the form of back-to-back baskets late in the game that put away Wisconsin for good.
Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen
These two players were the key factors in Duke’s win. Allen, a reserve who had been averaging just four points per game, exploded off the bench for 16 in the Finals. The energy he brought in the second half was electrifying. He scored eight straight points to help his team rally from being down by nine early in the second half. He brought the spark that ignited his team to action.
Freshman Tyus Jones ended the night with a game-high 23 points on some solid and aggressive play. He kept the scoring momentum going for Duke consistently while Okafor was on and off the court. He knocked down some important long-range jumpers that propelled the team forward. In the end, Jones’ impressive effort earned him the Most Outstanding Player Award of the NCAA Final Game.
Defense made it happen
While Jones and Allen did an excellent job on the offensive end, credit must be given to Duke’s defensive efforts. They were able to stifle Kaminsky’s “partner in crime,” Sam Dekker and limited him to just 12 points. He uncharactersitically missed all six of shot attempts from beyond the three-point arc and shot 6-of-15 from the field. Even though Kaminsky put in a great game, Duke was able to limit his teammates from being more of a factor in the game. It was their defense that kept Wisconsin in check, while Jones and Allen did their work. Overall, it was an amazing all around effort by the Duke Blue Devils.
This is the fifth NCAA title of both Duke University and coach Mike Kryzewski, and with this accomplishment it cannot be helped but include him in discussions when it comes to the best NCAA Coach of all-time. Of course, it’s hard to compare him to the likes of John Wooden, but then again coach K now definitely deserves to be spoken about in that tier of greats.
He won an NCAA title with eight guys, two of whom were walk-ons and four of whom are freshmen. How he did he make it happen? Well, that’s just coach K’s special brand of coaching magic.