Duke beats Texas Tech 79-74 to send Coach K to Elite 8
Published 12:35 am Friday, March 25, 2022
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski moved within one win of his record-setting 13th trip to the Final Four in his farewell season thanks to two late baskets by Jeremy Roach that helped seal the Blue Devils’ 78-73 win over Texas Tech on Thursday night.
Roach’s two shots were part of a 7-0 run as the steady sophomore came through in the clutch for a second straight game to send second-seeded Duke (31-6) into an Elite Eight matchup against fourth-seeded Arkansas.
Paolo Banchero led Duke with 22 points, Mark Williams scored 16 and Roach added 15 as the Blue Devils held off third-seeded Texas Tech (27-10) and gave Coach K his record 100th NCAA Tournament victory.
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As compelling as the action on the court was in this taut West Region semifinal, the story of this Blue Devils run has surrounded the farewell tour of their Hall of Fame coach.
Krzyzewski announced last June he would retire after this season.
After missing the tournament last year, Duke was back with a roster filled with NBA prospects and capable of delivering Krzyzewski his sixth career title.
Duke played from behind for much of the first half but was much sharper offensively in the second half. Williams got free for three easy baskets early in the half to get the Blue Devils rolling.
Then the vocal Duke contingent on hand for the first NCAA Tournament games in San Francisco since 1939 made its presence known midway through the half when A.J. Griffin tied the game at 47 with his third 3-pointer of the game and Banchero followed with a jumper that gave Duke the lead.
But a Red Raiders team featuring four super seniors and five players with more than 120 career games didn’t go away and the game stayed tight.
Kevin McCullar and Banchero traded 3s with Banchero’s long-range shot putting Duke up 69-68 with less than three minutes to play.
The Blue Devils then pulled away thanks to pair of clutch jumpers by Roach. Bryson Williams had a shot blocked by Mark Williams, committed a turnover and shot an airball.
Griffin’s two free throws with 12.9 seconds to play gave Duke a 77-73 lead. Adonis Arms then missed a 3-pointer and Krzyzewski gave an emphatic fist pump after his record 100th NCAA Tournament win.
Bryson Williams scored 21 points to lead Texas Tech and McCullar added 17. Kevin Obanor had 10 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double in six career tournament games.
Texas Tech: Coach Mark Adams’ first season has been a remarkable one as he brought in four senior transfers after taking over what had been a thinned-out roster following Chris Beard’s departure for Texas. The Red Raiders made it to their third Sweet 16 in the past four tournaments.
Duke: The Blue Devils have been carrying a heavy responsibility trying to cap Krzyzewski’s final season with a championship. The young players showed some nerves early, missing four of five shots and committing three turnovers, leading to a quick timeout by Krzyzewski. They quickly steadied things and got right back into the game but struggled to generate any consistent offense until the second half.
BLOCK OR CHARGE?
There was a lighthearted moment in the first half when Roach came up with a loose ball and was trying to take it up court in transition. Roach stepped on the sideline and then ran into an official before falling down right next to Duke’s bench.
The official ruled for the ball to go back to Texas Tech but Krzyzewski jokingly signaled for a block on the referee instead.
Duke will play Arkansas on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four. The only previous tournament meeting between the schools came in the 1994 title game that Arkansas won 76-72.