Duke and Coach K survived a strong matchup against Tom Izzo’s seventh-ranked Spartans, 85-76, on Sunday to keep dancing — advancing to the Sweet Sixteen.
Krzyzewski will make his 26th Sweet Sixteen appearance in 42 years of coaching the Blue Devils.
MSU kept Coach K’s group fighting for boards and hustling on defense to stop the Spartans’ triumphs from beyond the arc.
Izzo’s crew had a solid outing of offense: hitting 50 percent of their 3’s and shooting 91.7 percent from the free-throw line.
The Spartans held a five-point lead with five minutes left in the second half. Blue Devils fans feared the potential of Coach K’s final minutes on the court until Duke woke up on both ends.
Uplifting the Blue Devils at their lowest points was freshman forward Paolo Banchero, who recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists on 8 of 14 shooting.
Tenacious defense from Banchero and company forced MSU to commit costly turnovers, which the Blue Devils capitalized on.
Coach Izzo commended his opponent’s focus in crunch time.
“Instead of cracking, like I think some teams would under that pressure, their little home court got ’em going a little bit,” Izzo commented.
“We were young for a while there,” Krzyzewski stated in the postgame interview.
“And I was wondering if we were gonna stay young. … My guys were so tough in those last six minutes of the game. And in the last four or five minutes, the defense was incredible,” the coach added.
The second-ranked Blue Devils will face off against third-ranked Texas Tech after their win against the Fighting Irish.
Krzyzewski earned his 1,200th career win on Sunday.
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Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela