In one of the best national championship games of all time, the Blue Devils managed to hold off Butler to claim the program's fourth title.
Kyle Singler scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and collected three blocked shots to help his team earn a 61-59 victory on Monday.
A two point result that can be measured in inches. Because that's how close Gordon Hayward's final 45 foot heave came to putting a final exclamation point on an incredible NCAA Tournament. Instead the ball thudded off the backboard and then the rim, sending the more than 70,000 in attendance into a collective sigh.
As for the Duke bench....it was pure hysteria and joy. But also a sense of tremendous relief.
"First of all, it was a great basketball game. I want to congratulate an amazing Butler team and their fans," Krzyzewski said. "Fabulous year. We played a great game, they played a great game. It's hard for me to say it, to imagine that we're the national champions."
With the national media giving Butler little chance, the Bulldogs entered the game confident and unafraid. It showed as Coach Brad Stevens' team dictated the pace and the flow of the game with tough defense and a commitment to rebounding the ball. It allowed the Bulldogs to stay within striking distance down the stretch.
Butler cut a five point lead to one and had possession with 13.6 seconds remaining under the Duke basket. The Bulldogs inbounded and got the ball to their top player, Hayward. The 6'7 sophomore cut right and got a good look at the basket over the out-stretched hands of Brian Zoubek but clanged off the back iron back to the Duke center.
After making the first free throw, Zoubek intentionally missed the second, allowing Butler a final chance. Once again Hayward got the shot off, but the ball didn't fall.
In a game where no team led by more than six, it was Duke's experience that was the difference. Previous Blue Devil squads were too reliant on the perimeter jumper and couldn't succeed when the outside shots weren't falling. This year's team, however, was able to survive and overcome the Bulldogs' continued efforts.
Because of that the three man senior class of Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, and Lance Thomas go out as champions. The last time they put on the blue and white they finished with strong statistical games. Scheyer had 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Thomas added six points and four rebounds. And Zoubek - the player who had never started an NCAA Tournament game before this season - recorded his fourth double-figure rebound of the tournament and fifth game with nine or more boards. He also added eight points.
The Blue Devils finished the year 35-5.