College Sports

Duke came so close in final seconds, but couldn't get past Kansas for trip to Final Four

Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III on loss to Kansas: 'It hurts'

Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III talk about the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.
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Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III talk about the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

Duke wasn't supposed to lose to Kansas in the Elite 8. Despite the Jayhawks' No. 1 seed, the No. 2 seeded Blue Devils were the favorite.

But it did.

Kansas' Malik Newman knocked down a 3-pointer with less than two minutes left in overtime to give the Jayhawks a 3-point lead. Duke attempted to come back but couldn't, and Kansas went on to win 85-81 at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

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Now instead of Duke (29-8) playing against Villanova in the Final Four next week, Kansas (30-7) will.

The goal for Duke's players was to win a national championship, as it is every year. Only this year, the expectation was real. With the No. 1 ranked recruiting class, headlined by Marvin Bagley III, and the return of senior guard Grayson Allen, Duke had arguably the most talented team in the country.

Duke was a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and had beaten its first three opponents.

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But the buzzer sounded and Kansas won. Bagley put his hands on his knees and bent over before his teammate Gary Trent Jr. picked him up and ushered him to the handshake line.

Reality set in. It was over.

"It hurts," Bagley said. "you know, we've been through a lot this year as a team. We have gotten closer throughout the year and to make it this far, to have a chance at winning it and moving on and not being able to do it, it hurts a lot."

For many of these players, including Duke's lone senior and possibly its four starting freshmen, it was their last game in a Duke uniform, playing with one another. At least three players will likely leave school early to enter the NBA draft this summer.

One - Allen - will graduate.

"We wanted to be the team at the end of the year winning," Allen said. "No one wants to end with a loss like that. It's so abrupt. The end of the game comes and it's over. So it hurts. You can't say much more than that."

Bagley, who won ACC Player and Rookie of the Year, scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds. He had been a force all season, but Kansas slowed him down. The Jayhawks sent double and triple teams to him whenever he touched the ball.

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Allen, the team's only senior, scored 12 points in his final game and had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation with a shot that rolled around the rim before falling out. Freshman point guard Trevon Duval had a career-high 20 points. But it didn't matter. Newman was too good. He scored 32 points for Kansas, 26 in the second half and overtime.

"He basically continued to do what he does," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Newman. "But their four perimeter players, it's very difficult to concentrate on stopping one."

Duke had a three point halftime lead. But in the second half, the Blue Devils came out flat. It allowed Kansas to come back and take the lead. Duke would eventually tie the game and take the lead, but a Kansas 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds remaining tied the game again.

With only a few seconds to go and the game tied, Allen had a chance to win the game and send Duke to the Final Four.

He drove the basket, spun on the defender guarding him and went up for the mid-range shot, but it rolled out right at the buzzer. No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 2 seed Duke would head to overtime.

"It was right there, and rolled out," Allen said.

Watch a time-lapse of the last second shot attempt by Duke's Grayson Allen at the end of regulation of Kansas' 85-81 overtime victory over the Blue Devils in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.

In overtime, freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr., who had been in foul trouble, played well. But with 2:49 left, and Duke up by one point, Carter tried to take a charge.

Duke freshman Wendell Carter Jr. was plagued with foul trouble throughout the Blue Devils loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Elite 8.

Instead of it going his way, the referee called a blocking foul, sending Kansas' Newman to the free throw line. It was Carter's fifth foul of the game. As he walked toward the end of the bench his head was down low and he cried.

"I just have to respect it," Carter said of the call. "No matter what I think, or what I thought, the ref makes the right call."

Kansas would finish the game on a 10-5 run, cementing its place in the Final Four.

Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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