It’s a Devilish night as Duke escapes Michigan State for mock national title

Posted 4/10/20

Editor’s note: This is the final edition of the mock NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament simulated by the News + Record.

ATLANTA — Tre Jones connected on a pair of clutch treys down the stretch …

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It’s a Devilish night as Duke escapes Michigan State for mock national title

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Posted

Editor’s note: This is the final edition of the mock NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament simulated by the News + Record.

ATLANTA — Tre Jones connected on a pair of clutch treys down the stretch here in Atlanta on Monday night and Vernon Carey added a pivotal rebound basket with :11.7 seconds remaning to lift Duke to a 77-74 vcitory over Michigan State in the 2020 Men’s National Championship game.

The title was the sixth all-time for Duke, all under legendary Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski, and all coming since its first in 1991. The championship was also the 14th for Big 4 teams here in NC as UNC has six and N.C. State a pair as well.

Duke closes the season at 33-7 and avenged a 68-67 loss in the Great 8 to Michigan State a year ago.

The Spartans, picked as preseason No. 1, finishes at 30-10.

The contest between the two college basketball heavyweights was nip and tuck the entire way with Michigan State using runs of 6-0 and 7-2 in the opening half to take a 35-30 lead at the intermission. Cassius Winston sank a pair of treys on the way to 11 points in the opening stanza and Xavier Tillman chipped in seven more to spark the Spartys to the halftime advantage.

Jones has seven points for the Blue Devils in the opening half while Cassius Stanly and Carey chipped in six apiece, and Matthew Hurt drilled a three-pointer from the right corner.

A trey and pair of driving hoops by Tillman and four points from Winston sent Michgian State on a 24-17 tear to open the second half and give Michigan State its biggest lead of the night at 59-47 with 10:51 remaining in he contest.

But out of the Under-12 TV timeout, Jones sank a three-pointer from the left wing and then picked Winston at mid-court and throwing the ball ahead to Stanly for a two-handed dunk to cap a quick 5-0 spurt to close the gap to 59-52 with 10 minutes exactly remaining.

With the momentum, Duke continued to chip away as Carey tallied a pair of inside buckets in the paint, and Jack White swished a three-ball to draw the Blue Devils to within 68-66 with 3:34 left.

Jones proceeded to drain a pair of treys from the top of the circle and Carey seized a rebound late and put the ball back in to give the Blue Devils a 77-74 lead with 11:7 ticks remaining.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo drew up a well excuted play for Stanly, but the Spartans star was just off and the ball bounded away as the buzzer sounded to set off a massive celebration in Durham.

Jones, MVP of the contest, closed with 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals while Carey chipped in 12, Stanly 11 and Hurt 10. Carey also had 11 boards for a double-dboule.

Tillman had 21 points to lead Michigan State and Stanly chipped in 20 more and nine rebounds.

Sports Editor’s note: This mock tournament and Duke national title is dedicated to Greg Jourdan of Siler City who passed away on February 28 of this year after a courageous battle with cancer. Anyone that knew Greg can relate to this; he was just a great guy. He was a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan, as well as an avid Duke Blue Devils fan. It was always a good time talking Duke basketball, and sports in general with him and I certainly value all those conversations and miss them. So its only fitting that Duke captured the mock title in his memory for a two-fer in a two months span. RIP Greg.

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