UNC tops Duke in all-time classic to head to national championship
The eighth-ranked Tar Heels downed the Blue Devils 81-77 in an epic thriller on Saturday to book a trip to the national title game against Kansas. The back-and-forth affair featured 18 lead changes and 12 ties.
"I couldn't do it without my guys and my coaches, I give all my credit to them. They put me in position, it was a team effort," Love said in his postgame press conference.
Thanks to Love's shooting and Bacot's rebounding, North Carolina outpaced Duke from deep and on the glass, holding on to win despite being outscored 50-34 from inside the arc.
The Tar Heels have now pulled off five straight NCAA Tournament wins, with four different starters leading them in points. The team got just two points from its bench for the third straight game.
"The togetherness of this team is at an all-time high. We're so connected on and off the court," said North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis. "It doesn't guarantee wins, but it does put you in a position to maybe do something special."
Likely top-three pick Paolo Banchero paced the way for Duke with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Star big man Mark Williams battled foul trouble all night, playing just 15 minutes and contributing eight points.
"Tonight was a battle. It was a game that the winner was gonna be joyous and the loser was gonna be in agony," Krzyzewski said. "It's not about me, especially right now. As a coach, I'm just concerned about these guys."
"(Coach K) was so committed to us all year," Banchero said. "He never made it about him. You don't get time to think about it right now, but when we look back on it, we're going to be proud we played for him. He had our back the whole year, had our back every game."
Krzyzewski is now set for retirement after 42 seasons and five national titles with the ACC program.