North Carolina defeats Duke, hands Coach K loss in last game at Final Four
No. 8 North Carolina 81, No. 2 Duke 77
No. 8 seed North Carolina will play No. 1 seed Kansas in the 2022 national championship on Monday night after the Tar Heels handed No. 2 seed Duke a second emotional loss this season, this time ending Mike Krzyzewski's coaching career with an 81-77 win Saturday night.
North Carolina's Caleb Love scored six points in the final 30 seconds — a 3-pointer and three free throws — to put the icing on the victory, even after Armando Bacot fouled out. Love finished with a game-high 28 points. Bacot, the Tar Heels' leading scorer and rebounder this season, finished with his new ACC record 30th double-double of the season, with 11 points and 21 rebounds — five shy of the NCAA tournament single-game record since 1973. He dealt with foul trouble, picking up his third foul in the first minute of the second half, and he briefly left the game with an apparent injury late in the game, before returning and grabbing his 20th and 21st rebounds.
Duke freshman guard Trevor Keels made the first of two free throws with Duke trailing by three with 11 seconds left. Later, his 3-point attempt was off the mark with five seconds left, and with his team down by four. It was a tough end to the game for Keels, who was terrific on the whole with 19 points off the bench.
Krzyzewski's career is now officially over, with 1,202 wins, 13 Final Fours and five national championships to his name. North Carolina coach Hubert Davis is now taking his Tar Heels to the national championship game in his inaugural season.
Coach K deflects question about emotions of final walk off the court
The first question in Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's press conference was about his emotions as he walked off the court for the final time Saturday night after his Blue Devils lost to the Tar Heels 81-77.
"It's not about me, especially right now," Krzyzewski said, adding that it was about his players. "They were already crying on the court."
"I've wanted my seasons to end where my team is crying either tears of joy or tears of sorrow, because then you knew they gave everything."— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) April 3, 2022
Coach K reflects on postgame emotions after falling to UNC. pic.twitter.com/jMd0ESkM2s
Hubert Davis jokes after question on Armando Bacot's availability
When asked about what the next 24 to 48 hours would look like for junior forward Armando Bacot, who briefly left the second half of Saturday's national semifinal with an apparent injury, North Carolina coach Hubert Davis immediately started cracking jokes, dismissing any notion that the team's leading scorer and rebounder would miss the national championship game against Kansas.
"Even if he just stands there, he'll play," Davis said.
"At this time, I don't think there isn't a player who isn't hurt a little bit," he added.
Armando Bacot returns to the floor
Moments after Armando Bacot left the game with an injury, Duke's AJ Griffin sank a pair of free throws and when North Carolina's Brady Manek drew a foul on Jeremy Roach, Manek missed both, which maintained Duke's 67-65 lead.
After Bacot's replacement, Puff Johnson, sank two free throws, Bacot returned to the floor to overwhelming applause.
Armando Bacot goes down wih an injury
Armando Bacot draws Mark Williams' fourth foul
Both of Duke's traditional big men now have four fouls after North Carolina's Armando Bacot drew Mark Williams' fourth foul with 10:31 left, following an offensive rebound. Williams went to the bench and he was replaced by John.
Bacot made the shot and sank the free throw to put North Carolina up 58-55.
Duke and North Carolina tied at 55 at under-12 timeout
Just 10 minutes and 50 seconds remain in either No. 2 seed Duke or No. 8 seed North Carolina's season. The two rivals are tied at 55 at the under-12 media timeout in the second half, as the two sides have combined to make their last six shot attempts and neither team making more than two in a row without the other scoring during that stretch.
Duke freshman forward Paolo Banchero's jumper tied the game, 55-55, moments after North Carolina's Brady Manek double-clutched a 3-pointer from the left wing that turned a one-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Armando Bacot stays in the game after third foul
Either way, one of Duke or North Carolina's starters — each team's big man, in fact — was going to pick up his third foul, when North Carolina's Armando Bacot spun into Duke's Mark Wiliams with 19:07 to play in the second half. Each player had two fouls and sat for varying lengths of time in the first half because of it.
The officials called an offensive foul on Bacot. North Carolina coach Hubert Davis elected to keep Bacot in the game and it paid off, as Bacot grabbed four rebounds, plus he swiped a steal, over the next two-plus minutes before the under-16 timeout in the second half as North Carolina answered Duke's 7-0 run that spanned halftime with an 11-0 run by the Tar Heels, fueled by three 3-pointers and eight points from electric sophomore guard Caleb Love.
Halftime: No. 2 Duke 37, No. 8 North Carolina 34
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's coaching career is 20 minutes away from lasting two more days. At halftime of Saturday night's Final Four matchup against No. 8 seed North Carolina, No. 2 seed Duke leads 37-34 after sophomore guard Jeremy Roach completed an old-fashioned three-point play with roughly 4 seconds left in the half to put the Blue Devils ahead at the break. Moments earlier, North Carolina's Brady Manek, known for his 3-point shooting prowess, made a hard, driving layup in the lane to tie the game.
The first half was largely defined by each team's frontcourt players dealing with foul trouble and the teams' abilities to adapt. Duke's Mark Williams picked up two early fouls and his replacement, Theo John, picked up four. Late in the half, Krzyzewski left both players on the bench, going with freshman Paolo Banchero at the "five," effectively.
North Carolina's Armando Bacot, who went to the bench immediately after picking up his first foul, added a second with 2:36 left in the half. Neither team is shooting the ball particularly well — Duke at 43.2 percent to North Carolina's 35.3 percent. North Carolina guard RJ Davis leads all scorers with 14 points, followed by Banchero's 10.
Duke's frontcourt in first-half foul trouble
One of North Carolina's pregame focuses was keeping junior forward and leading scorer Armando Bacot out of foul trouble and it's Bacot that has helped put Duke's frontcourt in foul trouble. Duke's Theo John, who spelled starter Mark Williams, who picked up two fouls, just picked up his third foul with 5:17 to play in the first half.
Bacot's ensuing free throws tied the game at 24, but John stayed in the game and immediately put Duke back ahead with another slam off an assist from Jeremy Roach.
Soon thereafter, John committed his fourth foul with 3:54 remaining, as Bacot spun on the left block.
Armando Bacot picks up his first foul
North Carolina junior forward Armando Bacot, a first-team All-ACC selection who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, picked up his first foul with 11:05 to play in the first half on a moving screen and he immediately went to the bench, just as he did in North Carolina's win over Duke on March 5. Bacot picked up two back-to-back fouls in North Carolina's 20-point home loss on Feb. 5, so North Caroilna coach Hubert Davis played conservatively in the regular-season rematch, sitting Bacot immediately after he picked up both his first and second fouls. He finished the game with two fouls and the Tar Heels won by 13.
Bacot and his coaches and teammates are fully aware of his importance to the team and the necessity of his staying out of foul trouble. He told reporters on Friday that he expected Duke to attack him to try to get him in foul trouble early.
"Our team's plus-minus is, I mean, really good when I'm on the floor and not good at all when I'm off the floor," Bacot said Friday. "My coaches just told me that actually after practice today."
Duke, North Carolina tied at 13
The first eight-plus minutes of Saturday's second national semifinal has so far lived up to the billing — almost an impossible task, given the weight of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's final season crossing with North Carolina coach Hubert Davis' first season in the two archrivals' first-ever NCAA tournament meeting.
They're tied at 13 at the under-12 media timeout.
North Carolina sophomore guard RJ Davis whipped a one-handed, left-handed bullet of a pass to Armando Bacot near the left block, setting the junior forward up for any easy finish.
Duke freshman AJ Griffin drove down the lane before a quick dump-off to teammate Theo John, who finished with authority with two hands. Moments later, Paolo Banchero hit a 3-pointer from the left wing. A 3-point response from Davis prompted a collective yell from the North Carolina fans.
Mark Williams' two slams put Duke up 4-3 at first media timeout
Coach K takes the floor for his record-setting 13th Final Four
Duke's players walked in single file, who after a short break were followed by their assistant coaches and the team's staff members, who were then followed up by Mike Krzyzewski, who walked alone down the halfway inside the Caesars Superdome and onto the court, greeted by a healthy mix of Durham cheers and Chapel Hill boos.
Here’s what Coach K saw as he walked onto the floor for his 13th Final Four appearance to face rival North Carolina for the first time in the NCAA tournament. pic.twitter.com/VDRs3rti9D— Andy Wittry (@AndyWittry) April 3, 2022
Duke and North Carolina take the floor for pregame warmups
No. 1 seed Kansas has clinched a spot in Monday night's national championship game. Now, the Jayhawks wait to see whether they'll play the Duke Blue Devils or North Carolina Tar Heels, which have taken the court for pregame warmups in the second national semifinal. The game is scheduled to tip off at 8:49 p.m. ET on TBS.