INDIANAPOLIS - Physical basketball games tend to be sloppy.
Shooting percentages drop and turnovers rise.
Duke versus West Virginia was physical. Both teams banged and battled for position all game.
But top-seeded Duke didn't play sloppy. Duke didn't struggle shooting the basketball.
"We knew it was going to be a 40-minute war," Nolan Smith said. "Everybody played a great game."
The Blue Devils looked precise, making crisp passes to the open man and valuing each possession with the basketball, while engaging in a physical fight with West Virginia. Eventually thought, Duke would pull away for the 78-57 victory reaching its eighth National Title game under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
"Our care for the ball was excellent, to get 20 assists and only six turnovers," Krzyzewski said. "These two guys [Smith and Jon Scheyer] had 12 assists and no turnovers.
That's right. Duke's two primary ball-handlers didn't commit a turnover in 72 combined minutes of court time, while Duke as a team turned it over less than 10 times for the 11th game this season.
They shared the basketball with extreme efficiency, while also finding ways to score themselves.
It was the eighth game this year without a turnover for Scheyer, who scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including five three-pointers.
For Smith, who chipped in with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including four three-pointers, it was the sixth game of the year without a turnover.
The third perimeter scorer for the Blue Devils, Kyle Singler, was just as good, scoring 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting with three 3's, as well as dishing out five assists.
"All three of our perimeter guys had outstanding shooting games," Krzyzewski said.
As a team, the Blue Devils connected on 52.7 percent on their shots from the floor, shooting just as high of a percentage (52.0 percent) from the three-point line.
Duke connected on thirteen three-pointers thanks in large part to their ability to find the open man.
"They worked so well together today," Krzyzewski said. "They really were very good tonight. To score that many points against West Virginia is a lot. But we hit shots, I mean, to go 13 for 25 from three is very good."
Smith set the tempo early for Duke setting up scores for seven-footer Brian Zoubek and Singler in the opening minutes.
Smith drove the right baseline to find the Zoubek for his first score.
"I knew they were going to be switching on their man offense, and they got a little confused first," Zoubek said. "Usually when we set that first screen we go and set another screen for a guy coming off the baseline and this time we just rolled right to the basket."
Smith then hooked up with Singler for an easy two points. Then, for the second time in the opening minutes, delivered another perfect pass to the seven-footer for a layup from the right block, this one coming after Zoubek set a screen for Smith and then rolled to the basket.
"He [Smith] makes really good plays, not just shots," Krzyzewski said. "He's very good with the ball."
The easy lay ups for Zoubek on the offensive end helped to get the Haddonfield, N.J. native, rolling on the boards.
All three of Zoubek's offensive rebounds from the first half resulted in three points for the Blue Devils as well as an assist for the team's tallest distributor.
"My teammates did a great job of knocking down the wide open shots," Zoubek said.
His first offensive rebound of the game resulted in a three for Scheyer. His second offensive rebound resulted in a kick-out three to Singler at the top of the arc, and his third had the Duke center finding Smith in the right wing to put Duke up 34-24.
Zoubek finished the first half with four points, seven rebounds (three offensive rebounds), three assists and 0 personal fouls in 15 minutes.
"Some of his [Zoubek] offensive rebounds really turned into, you know, big plays for us when he kicked it out," Krzyzewski said.
In the first half, Duke recorded assists on 12 of its 16 made field goals. In the previous nine games, the Blue Devils had only eclipsed more than 12 assists three times. It was their sixth 20 or more assist game and first since Dec. 31 against Pennsylvania (24).
"We had a good week of preparation," Scheyer said. "I thought we were really well prepared, and we felt comfortable no matter what they did."
"We just wanted to keep moving the ball, and I think one of the keys was hitting our postmen and then playing off them," Singler said.