The moment was finally not too big for the Duke basketball team.
In two separate instances this year, the moment looked to be too big for the Duke basketball team.
The Blue Devils collapsed in the second half during the regular-season finale at home against North Carolina and wilted under the pressure of the ACC Tournament Championship against Virginia Tech.
It felt like this team could not handle the moment in the final games of the career of Mike Krzyzewski.
Sunday afternoon could have been the last chance for this team to prove it will not go down quietly, and the Blue Devils finally rose to the occasion.
Duke was on the ropes against Michigan State in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, trailing by three, 72-69, with 3:43 to go in the second half.
It looked like the final four minutes of Krzyzewski’s career were unfolding until the Blue Devils decided this would not be the end.
Trevor Keels drilled a game-tying 3-pointer with 3:25 left, but AJ Hoggard gave the Spartans the lead back with 2:51 remaining before Duke closed the game on a 13-2 run.
Paolo Banchero gave the Blue Devils a 75-74 lead with 2:03 to play and then came up with his biggest defensive play of the season after a rejection of Joey Hauser, which led to the dagger 3-pointer from Jeremy Roach.
The sequence showed that this team has matured. It learned from its mistakes in the last two weeks.
It was ready for the moment.
Duke basketball with challenging turnaround
The draw the Blue Devils received was always going to be a challenge, but the schedule is making things more difficult.
Duke traveled back to Durham on Sunday night, only to turn around and leave for San Francisco on Tuesday morning to play Texas Tech on Thursday night.
The Red Raiders have a similar schedule to that of the Blue Devils, but top-seeded Gonzaga has an extra day of rest as well as less travel to the Bay Area.
Duke and Texas Tech will tip off at 9:39 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 24.