Blog: Blue Devils demolish Spartans to reach National Championship

Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones celebrate during the Duke-Michigan State Final Four game (AP/David J. Phillip)

Duke is heading to the National Championship.

It's a feat the team accomplished with eight scholarship players and behind one of the Blue Devils' best defensive performances of the season.

The Spartans opened up Saturday's match-up hot. In the first four minutes alone, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine hit a triplet of three-point shots to give the Spartans a 14-6 lead.

Panic mode was avoided, though, after that opening stretch. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski called his squad's next 36 minutes of play their best this entire tournament. At one point, Michigan State went more than six minutes without a made field goal and ended the first half shooting just twenty-nine percent from the field. Duke held Michigan State to 22-of-55 shooting from the field and 7-of-20 from three-point range.

In the second half, Duke completely dominated behind freshman Justise Winslow. He has been the team's brightest star in this postseason and finished with a team-high 19 points and nine rebounds. Paired with Jahlil Okafor, Michigan State had no answer. Okafor used hooks shots, shots high of the glass, and turnarounds off the magic button to cause four of Michigan State's big men to frustratingly finish in foul trouble (Branden Dawson, Matt Costello, Gavin Schilling and Marvin Clark Jr. all had four fouls a piece) while adding 18 points of his own to the stat sheet.

Duke also showed its dominance inside with 42 points in the paint, and the Blue Devils made the most of the Spartans' 14 "gimmes" with 19 points scored off of turnovers.

It was a complete effort from the Blue Devils that left Krzyzewski elated after the win.

"It's incredibly exciting," he said. "It's not a little exciting, it's incredibly exciting, and now they got a chance to play for a National championship. Damn, how exciting is that? I mean it's great, it's just great."

Monday's title game will be the ninth for Krzyzewski.

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