SAN FRANCISCO — Spanning several generations, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has molded four-year stalwarts and one-and-dones into championship teams, instilled some teams with a floor-slapping toughness and others with a freewheeling offense, and at times has seemed to be able to bend a referee’s whistle to his will.
Krzyzewski’s neatest trick, though, may be taking his final team — and his greenest — to another Final Four.
The Blue Devils, seeded second in the West region, kept alive their hopes of sending Krzyzewski into a retirement with a sixth national championship by turning back fourth-seeded Arkansas in the round of 8, 78-69.
As befitting a talented young team that is hitting its stride at the most opportune time, freshmen Paolo Banchero, who scored 16 points and Adrian Griffin, who had 18, spurred Duke. Center Mark Williams, a sophomore, added 12 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
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from David Cobb, at CBSSports.com….www.cbssports.com
Duke faced yet another elite defense on Saturday night in the Elite Eight, and the Blue Devils turned it another elite offensive performance as they cruised past Arkansas 78-69 to reach next week’s Final Four. AJ Griffin led the No. 2 seed Blue Devils with 18 points, but it was a balanced effort for Duke, which followed up on Thursday’s masterful showing against Texas Tech with another hot shooting night.
As a team, Duke shot 54.7% and dominated the paint against an Arkansas team that saw its season end in the Elite Eight for the second straight season. This will mark Duke’s first Final Four appearance since 2015 and bring coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career tally of Final Four appearances to 13 as he prepares to retire at season’s end. Duke will play the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 8 seed North Carolina and No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s next Saturday.
The teams traded runs in the first half, but the Blue Devils used an 8-0 spurt in the final 1:20 of the half to open up a 45-33 halftime lead. Trevor Keels drilled a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to send Duke into the locker room with all the momentum.
Arkansas cut the deficit to 53-48 with 13:19 remaining on a Jaylin Williams 3-point play. But Duke promptly went on a 10-0 run that began with a Paolo Banchero bucket. By the 9:07 mark, the Blue Devils owned a 66-51 edge, and the Razorbacks never got back within single digits until the final minute when the game was out of reach.