GREENSBORO, N.C. — Duke men's basketball coach Jon Scheyer stood on the stage, wiping his brow as he scanned the bubbly crowd while his players danced around the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship trophy.
That's when Kyle Filipowski walked up from behind and wrapped an arm around him.
The youthful Blue Devils — from their freshmen to their 35-year-old rookie head coach — could savor a moment that felt so familiar for the blueblood program.
Filipowski had 20 points and 10 rebounds to clinch the tournament MVP award, and 21st-ranked, fourth-seeded Duke locked down defensively to beat 13th-ranked, second-seeded Virginia 59-49 in Saturday night's ACC final, securing a title in Scheyer's debut season as the successor to legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"Coming in, everyone was talking about, 'We're too young, Scheyer's first year,'" freshman guard Tyrese Proctor said while standing amid confetti strewn about the court. "We just stuck together all year and just didn't give up."
Jeremy Roach scored 19 of his career-high 23 points after halftime for the Blue Devils (26-8), who completed a final-month surge to the top of the ACC to secure a league-record 22nd championship.
Only now, it's with the former Blue Devils player and assistant coach in charge.
Scheyer spent last year as the coach in waiting while Krzyzewski — who led the Blue Devils to five national championships — made a last Final Four run. He then assembled the nation's top-ranked recruiting class before masterfully leading that group through youthful ups and downs, helping the Blue Devils find the form that will send them into the NCAA tournament on a nine-game winning streak.
Yes, Scheyer said, the new players who arrived this season or returned from last year wanted to be part of Duke's tradition. But it was also a leap of faith at a pivotal moment of change for the program, too.
"They believed in us and in me," Scheyer said, "and obviously I felt that way about each of them."
And it all had Scheyer soaking up the scene of celebrating fans from his perch on the midcourt stage and basking in "a surreal feeling." That includes becoming the first to win an ACC tournament title as both a player and a coach in league history, and only the third first-year coach ever to win the title.
Duke's winning streak began after an overtime loss at Virginia in which a league-acknowledged officiating error cost the Blue Devils a chance to win in regulation. This time, Duke grinded its way through to the horn by leaning on a defense-first approach that Scheyer has pushed all season.
The Blue Devils held the Cavaliers (25-7) to 33% shooting, with Virginia missing both contested and clean looks while committing nearly as many turnovers (12) as made shots (16).
"Their length and athleticism was real, and I think at times it sped us up," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "And we were at times a little bit uncharacteristic or a bit rushed. I think they sat down and guarded. We sat down and tried to guard hard, and there just wasn't a whole lot there."
The Blue Devils never trailed, leading by as many as 14 points and keeping the Cavaliers — playing a methodical pace and their own defensive-minded style — working to inch closer all night.
Reece Beekman scored 12 points for Virginia, which drew to within six on Isaac McKneely's 3-pointer with 3:05 to go and five on Kihei Clark's layup off a scramble with 1:07 left. Finally, Beekman pulled Virginia to within 53-49 on a driving layup around Filipowski with 44 seconds left.
But the Blue Devils didn't wobble, hitting six straight free throws to clinch this one. Roach made four of those, showing a veteran's composure on a freshman-laden team, which was reminiscent of some of his big postseason moments during last year's postseason run.
Texas 76, Kansas 56
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Texas players flooded onto the floor, right past interim coach Rodney Terry and to midcourt inside the T-Mobile Center, where they couldn't wait to get their hands on the trophy crowning them Big 12 champions.
After the season they had, who could blame them?
It began under the darkest of clouds with their high-profile coach, Chris Beard, fired after a domestic incident. Terry was given the job and the tall task of guiding the Longhorns through a grueling schedule, and what many have called one of the toughest conferences in history.
But after finishing second to Kansas in the regular season, the seventh-ranked Longhorns proved Saturday night they were champs in their own right, blowing out the third-ranked Jayhawks in the Big 12 final.
Dylan Disu overcame early foul trouble to score 18 points and was selected tournament MVP. Marcus Carr and Sir'Jabari Rice, who also landed on the all-tournament team, had 17 apiece. And just about everyone wearing burnt orange had a hand in shutting down the Jayhawks, who were trying to win a second straight league tourney title.
"There probably hasn't been a team challenged as much in terms of adversity or staying the course," Terry said, his voice long gone hoarse. "There was no nights off. This tournament, we knew, was going to be tough as well, but we were excited about it, and these guys' approach and their attitudes — they wanted to be champions, and they made it happen."
After going more than two decades without a Big 12 tourney title, the Longhorns (26-8) have won two of the past three, and they likely wrapped up a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament with their performance in Kansas City. The 68-team bracket for March Madness will be revealed Sunday evening.
"You only take this win for one night," said Brock Cunningham, who was on that 2021 title team that was then bounced in the first round of the NCAA tourney. "We'll have this win tonight, and then we'll get back to work."
The Jayhawks played once again without coach Bill Self, who went to the emergency room on the eve of their quarterfinal for an undisclosed medical procedure. Self's longtime assistant and acting coach, Norm Roberts, said afterward that he hopes to have Self back when they begin their bid to repeat as national champions.
Jalen Wilson scored 24 points and Joseph Yesufu, pressed into the starting lineup due to injuries, finished with 11 for the Jayhawks (27-7), who had won 13 of their previous 16 trips to the Big 12 title game.
The question now is whether they did enough before Saturday night to earn the overall No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, and with it a favorable road through Kansas City in the regional round.
"Give Texas a lot of credit. They played really well," Roberts said. "They're very athletic; we knew that. Fast. They have some really good offensive players. I thought we did a good job early in the game, but then we missed a bunch of bunnies, easy shots and putbacks that could have kept us in the game, and then I think fatigue took over."
Arizona 61, UCLA 59
LAS VEGAS — Courtney Ramey made a 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left to put Arizona in front, and the eighth-ranked, second-seeded Wildcats beat second-ranked, top-seeded UCLA to win the Pac-12 tournament
The Wildcats (28-6) boosted their case for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. UCLA (29-5) still hopes to land the No. 1 seed in the West and return to Las Vegas in two weeks for the regional.
It was the second year in a row Arizona beat UCLA in the Pac-12 title game, and it seems second-year coach Tommy Lloyd can't lose in Las Vegas. He is 9-0 in this city, 8-0 at T-Mobile Arena and 6-0 in the Pac-12 tourney.
Ramey's 3 made it 60-58. The clutch shot came after teammate Azuolas Tubelis missed a 3 that was rebounded by Pelle Larsson. He tossed to Ramey, who shook a defender and connected from the top of the key.
UCLA guard Tyger Campbell was fouled with 6.8 seconds left, and he made the first free throw but missed the second. Tubelis hit one of two with 5.8 seconds to go, and UCLA's Dylan Andrews missed a 3 at the buzzer to ensure Arizona's victory.
Tubelis totaled 19 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona, Oumar Ballo scored 13 points and Larsson had 11.
Amari Bailey led UCLA with 19 points, Campbell scored 16 and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 13 with 10 rebounds.
The Bruins knew coming in they wouldn't have guard Jaylen Clark (lower leg) or Adem Bona (shoulder), and their problems only mounted when two of Bona's replacements in the post got into foul trouble.
Mac Etienne and Kenneth Nwuba each had four fouls in the second half, forcing coach Mick Cronin to play at least one of them. Etienne fouled out with 9:35 left and Nwuba with 4:27 remaining, meaning the Bruins had to play with a smaller lineup the rest of the game.
Arizona wasn't completely healthy, either. Point guard Kerr Kriisa has been playing with a balky shoulder during the tournament.
Marquette 65, Xavier 51
NEW YORK — The final night of the Big East tournament never sounded like this before.
Tyler Kolek and sixth-ranked, top-seeded Marquette raced out to a hefty lead and didn't look back, beating 15th-ranked, second-seeded Xavier to win its first Big East championship after 18 seasons in the conference.
As the clock wound down on a historic victory by a storied program that had been longing for an elusive title, chants of "We are Mar-quette!" echoed through Madison Square Garden.
"Marquette is a special place that has had a special basketball program for a long, long time," coach Shaka Smart said as he accepted the trophy. "We're so proud to bring a championship back to Milwaukee."
Kolek had 20 points and eight rebounds as the Golden Eagles (28-6) dominated a Big East final that brought a Midwestern flavor to Midtown Manhattan.
The brash league player of the year, who vowed his team would prove doubters wrong before the season, shared hugs with his family and friends as confetti poured down after the game. He was also selected the tournament's most outstanding player.
"All the moments they've been through with me have led up to this moment right here," Kolek said. "To share that with my high school coach, my brother, my dad, my two best friends, it's special. There is no better feeling."
Smart's surprising team will head into the NCAA tournament with a nine-game winning streak. Marquette's first appearance in the league title game resulted in one of its best performances of a scintillating season.
Kolek's steal and layup made it 51-27 with 14:12 left. Less than a minute later, after two offensive rebounds by the Golden Eagles, David Joplin made a corner 3 to double up the Muskeeters (25-9).
Joplin finished with 12 points.
Adam Kunkel scored 12 points to lead the Musketeers, who had a five-game winning streak snapped. Souley Boum, their leading scorer this season, was held to one point and missed all nine of his shots from the field.
"I thought tonight there are times when their effort level and their quickness, their togetherness, their communication, it was like there were six players on defense against us," Xavier coach Sean Miller said. "We couldn't get a good shot, and that is to their credit."
Smart described his team's defense as "violent."
"Coming up here to New York, we've really played for the most part very, very sticky, tough defense," Smart said. "We're going to need that if we want to advance in the NCAA tournament."
This was the first Big East title game since the conference dropped football in 2013 to not feature any of its longstanding members from the Northeast.
Still, the Milwaukee school, which joined in 2005, and the Cincinnati school, which joined in 2013, filled the Garden for the first Big East final between the top two seeds in 19 years.
It looked more like a 1-16 NCAA tourney game for a while. Marquette jumped out to a 21-4 lead and never relented.
"It was huge," Smart said. "And our guys played with real force to start the game."