MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It”s complete. Shane Battier”s work is done.
“All that”s left for me is to ride off in the sunset on a white horse,” Duke”s all-everything senior forward said.
With a national title in his hand.
The top-ranked Blue Devils won their third championship and second in the Metrodome with an 82-72 victory over Arizona last night.
Even though Battier and fellow All-American Jason Williams had off nights, sophomores Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer picked up the slack, enabling Mike Krzyzewski to move into impressive coaching company.
Still well behind UCLA”s John Wooden”s 10 national championships, Krzyzewski was one behind Kentucky”s Adolph Rupp and tied his college coach, Bob Knight, who won three at Indiana.
Coach K celebrated by hugging Battier for what seemed to be an eternity, a farewell embrace for his national player of the year and team leader.
To get to this game, Duke (35-4) had to overcome a 22-point deficit in Saturday”s semifinal win over Maryland. The last time the Blue Devils won it all, it was by 20 points.
The loss ended Arizona”s bittersweet season and kept the Wildcats (28-8) from matching their own record of beating three No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, which they did when they won it all in 1997.
“All the emotions they had to go through and they withstood them and did a great job to get to the final game,” Arizona coach Lute Olson said. “It”s tough. Someone”s got to lose it. Duke is deserving. We gave them a good run and couldn”t get it done.”
Loren Woods had 22 points to lead Arizona, the team that rebounded from a poor start and overcame the death of Olson”s wife on Jan. 1 to reach the championship game.
Duke”s other titles came in consecutive years, and the second in 1992 was won in this building after the same trip through the tournament Greensboro, N.C., Philadelphia and Minneapolis for the Final Four.
Dunleavy, playing in front of his father, Portland Trail Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy, led Duke with 21 points, 18 in the second half.
Dunleavy hit a career-high four 3-pointers, while Boozer, who just returned last weekend after missing six games with a broken foot, had 12 points and 12 rebounds and six assists. Williams, saddled with foul trouble, had 16 points on 5-for-15 shooting.
Duke is the first No. 1-ranked team to win the national championship since UCLA in 1995.
Dunleavy had three 3-pointers in an 11-2 run that put the Blue Devils up 50-39 four minutes into the second half.
Arizona came right back with a 9-0 run that was capped by a hook shot by Woods with 14:11 left that made it 50-48.
It took Duke just four minutes to get the lead back to 10, 61-51, on Dunleavy”s last 3 of the game with 10:08 to play.
Again, the Wildcats came back.
Four times Arizona got within three points. Three times it was Battier, the outstanding player of the Final Four, who responded for Duke.
His dunk on a pass from Williams made it 77-72 with 2:31 left, and Williams hit a 3 with 1:45 left that gave the Blue Devils an eight-point lead.
Duke, which set NCAA records this season for 3-pointers made and attempted, finished 9-for-27 from beyond the arc. Arizona really struggled from long range, finishing 4-for-22 with Jason Gardner missing all eight attempts.
Duke shot 47 percent from the field (30-for-64), well above the 38 percent Arizona”s other opponents, including No. 1 seeds Illinois and Michigan State, shot during the tournament.
Arizona shot 39 percent (28-for-71), nowhere near the 50 percent mark the Wildcats were at for the first five games of the tournament.