After some poor performances in the final stretch of his last season, Mike Krzyzewski received the defensive improvement that he needed to enter the NCAA Tournament.
Duke began the retired Hall of Famer’s final journey through the brackets without much stress. He beat Cal State Fullerton, 78 to 61, on Friday night.
Krzyzewski stated, “We played better tonight that we have been playing,”
Paolo Banchero , a freshman , scored 17 points to lead the Blue Devils (296-6), who took a double-digit lead after the first four minutes. Duke led by 10 at the half and increased the margin to 20. This avoided the shock exit that wasfall Kentucky in a 2-vs.-15 matchup the night before.
Wendell Moore Jr. had 13 points, six boards and six assists. “It was something we didn’t want to happen to us.”
No. 2 seed in the West Region. 5 players scored in double figures in the 2 seed while playing in neighboring states. This was despite five players being in the No. 6. Next up, a matchup against seventh-seeded Michigan State with its Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo.
Krzyzewski was happy with the way his team used time leading up the tournament to regroup, recharge and maybe even rebuild some of the defensive cohesion that existed earlier in the season.
Krzyzewski stated that their offense puts players in difficult positions to communicate due to the high number of dribbles. While we’ve been a very good defensive team, the last four games were really poor.
Damari Milstead scored 12 to lead the 15th-seeded Titans (21.1-11), who missed 15 out of 18 shots to start the game. The Big West Conference champions won the game with a 38% shooting percentage, including 5 for 17 on 3s required for any mid-major team to defeat a big favorite.
Dedrique Taylor, Titans coach, said, “Even during the timeouts I said to them: ‘The shots that we’re getting’.” They were not falling. “I think that Duke’s size, athleticism, and strength were all there at the end of today. Those shots looked a little bit different today than last Saturday.” in the Big West Tournament.
With five NCAA championships under its belt, Duke has been a long-standing postseason contender. This year, there is extra scrutiny as any game could be the last for the winningest college basketball coach, with 1,199 victories. TV cameras follow Krzyzewski, his wife Mickie and the team into the arena.
The Blue Devils aren’t looking as good as they used to in recent years, possibly due to the weight of having played through the final game of a legendary 47-year career. The Blue Devils lost to North Carolina in Krzyzewski’s emotional final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. also fell to Virginia Tech last weekend in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament champion game.
Krzyzewski stated that his team looked fresher in their workouts and that the Blue Devils were able to get off to a quick start that supported their coach.
Cal State Fullerton: This was the Titans’ fourth NCAA Tournament appearance and their first since 2018. Taylor claimed he has a mature team, but admitted that this was their fourth NCAA Tournament and first since 2018.
E.J., a Titans forward, stated that just having the chance to play against Duke was enough for seniors to decide who they want to play in NCAA Tournament. Anosike had 10 points and 10 boards. “We gave everything we had, even playing against Coach K.
Duke: Moore stated that the team spent days prior to the tournament working on its defensive edge. Positive signs were evident in the stat sheet. There were 10 blocked shots, five of which were by the 7-foot-1 Williams.
Multiple players fell on the court during the first half. Moore was one of those who fell on a slippery spot. He got up and then fell again, resulting in a near split.
Moore was so upset by this, he left the room early in the second-half to pedal a stationary bike to the bench. He returned to the bench shortly after returning. Staffers also made a greater effort to clean the court at each stoppage.
Krzyzewski stated, “That damn floor was slippery.” “I meant, at both ends. It was not the shoes. It wasn’t the shoes, I know that. Nike called me and asked me to verify that I wasn’t referring to the shoes.