March Madness: Duke dominates Arkansas 78-69, gives Coach K 13th Final Four appearance
March 28, 2022
After cutting down the net following the Final Four game, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski pointed at his players and signaled that the credit for his team's success went to them.
The Blue Devils didn't sweat it until the final buzzer sounded, unlike in the past. They defeated the fourth-seeded Razorbacks with superior individual talent.
Arkansas seemed to make a comeback when the team closed a 12-point gap to only five early in the second half. However, Duke responded with a 10-2 run to blast away.
After the game, Krzyzewski praised his team's performance in the NCAA tournament. He said they were playing with great confidence in pressure situations.
"I feel so good about my guys," Coach K said. "In this NCAA tournament, my team is just playing such good basketball in pressure situations. They were a close team before the NCAAs, but during these last four games, they've been terrific."
By defeating Arkansas, Krzyzewski became the most successful coach in the history of men's basketball. He also surpassed John Wooden's 12 Final Four appearances record.
In the Final Four, the Blue Devils will face off against the underdog North Carolina Tar Heels in New Orleans.
Before this season, only four times in the NCAA tournament history have Duke and North Carolina made it to the Elite Eight in the same year.
When asked about the possibility of facing North Carolina, Krzyzewski only said that his team would be excited to play against the regional champion.
Armando Bacot, a North Carolina player, admitted that he was trying to visualize a potential matchup against the Duke. "I'd be lying to you if I said that hasn't crossed my mind," the 22-year-old center said.
Since the Tar Heels are the team that Duke faces in the Final Four, the Blue Devils will have plenty of motivation to get revenge on a 94-81 upset at Cameroon Indoor Stadium on March 5th.
On being under pressure
There were times when the pressure got to be too much for Duke during the tournament. After the game against UNC, Krzyzewski took the microphone and apologized to the crowd and his former players.
"Let me just say — that was unacceptable," the 75-year-old coach apologized. "Today was unacceptable, but the season has been very acceptable. And I'll tell you, the season isn't over, alright?"
Krzyzewski later confessed that he regrets how he handled the loss to UNC. "I felt really bad for them," the Naismith Hall of Fame coach said. "When I said unacceptable, it wasn't that they were unacceptable. It was the result that was unacceptable, and I wanted to make sure that that was not misconstrued by them."
In addition, he has also changed how he addresses the team during halftime of the NCAA tournament. Instead of addressing the issues that occurred during the game, Krzyzewski focused on listening to his players.
"When I come in the locker room, I just pull out a chair, and I sit with them for about five minutes," said Krzyzewski. "It's just, OK, here's where we're at and just talk to them."
The young Blue Devils have responded well to the changes in Krzyzewski's strategy. They seem to have grown up and are handling the pressure of the situation well.
Despite falling behind against Michigan State in the late second half, the Blue Devils still defeated the Spartans with a comeback. They then faced a tough challenge against Texas Tech in the Sweet 16. However, the Blue Devils were able to pull away from the game after an 8-0 run in the first half.