INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTVD) -- Duke will play in the NCAA Championship game in Indianapolis against Wisconsin on Monday night after their Final Four victory over Michigan State.
ABC11's Mark Armstrong and Ngozi Ekeledo were at Saturday's nights game.
Click here to see Mark Armstrong's post-game commentary
For once, Jahlil Okafor didn't have to contend with constant double teams.
Instead, Duke's star freshman found himself with plenty of 1-on-1 opportunities in the first half against Michigan State on Saturday night, helping the Blue Devils' offense settle into a flow on the way to an 81-61 win in the opening game of the Final Four.
The 6-foot-11, 270-pound Okafor finished with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, and had six rebounds as part of a balanced offense in a game that belonged to the Blue Devils.
Duke will face Wisconsin when it tries for its fifth national championship Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Okafor didn't need to have a huge scoring night, not with Duke (34-4) shooting 51 percent from the field and causing numerous problems with its ability to spread the floor and penetrate.
Still, Okafor was a big component in Duke's dominant performance.
He drew early fouls on defenders Gavin Schilling and Matt Costello. He ran the floor to score on a transition stick-back through a foul. And there was the frequent sight of Okafor palming the basketball as though it was a baseball, including once in the second half, when he grabbed a board with his massive hands against Big Ten rebounding leader Branden Dawson.
Okafor was coming off two quiet games in last weekend's South Regional, combining for 15 points on 7-for-16 shooting in wins over Utah and Gonzaga.
Okafor said Friday he wasn't disappointed by his performance. Rather, he was excited by the prospects of arriving in Indianapolis with the chance to win a national title, and the knowledge that his team made it to the Final Four when he could have played better.
He was certainly prepared for any look Tom Izzo's club could give him, too.
Few teams tried to play him 1-on-1 this year, and instate rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State didn't just send double teams - they doubled with big men to make it tougher for Okafor to see and pass over the pressure.
He had no such trouble Saturday night. Okafor had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the opening half, helping the Blue Devils gain momentum after a slow start. And he often made it look easy in the paint, even scoring on a layup while Schilling tugged at the back of his jersey.
Okafor's putback dunk on Justise Winslow's miss midway through the first half gave Duke its first lead at 18-16. It was part of a 14-2 run in which Okafor had half of his team's points.
Duke never trailed the rest of the way as it advanced to another title game in Indianapolis, where the Blue Devils captured national championships in 1991 and 2010.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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Duke beats Michigan State 81-61. Blue Devils move on to the NCAA Championship
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