Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Duke overcame a poor shooting performance and another quiet showing from Jahlil Okafor on Sunday to win the South Region and reach its 12th Final Four under Mike Krzyzewski.
Matt Jones and Justise Winslow each scored 16 points for the top-seeded Blue Devils, who pulled away late and denied Gonzaga its first Final Four berth in a 66-52 victory that was closer than the final score indicated.
Duke (33-4) shot an uncharacteristic 37.5 percent from the floor but only turned it over three times and held Gonzaga without a a field goal over the final 6 1/2 minutes.
"Our defense the last 16 minutes was spectacular," said Krzyzewski, who tied UCLA legend John Wooden for the most all-time Final Four appearances. "I love these guys and they came through."
Tyus Jones chipped in with 15 points and six assists, while Okafor was held to single digits for the second straight game. The National Player of the Year candidate was held to six points in a win over Utah on Friday and only scored nine with eight rebounds on Sunday.
Despite Okafor's struggles, the Blue Devils are headed to Indianapolis to face East Region champ Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans upended Louisville on Sunday to set up a head coaching duel between Tom Izzo and Krzyzewski.
Kyle Wiltjer paced second-seeded Gonzaga (35-3) with 16 points, and the senior backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. totaled nine on 4-of-14 shooting.
Przemek Karnowski, two days after dropping 18 points on UCLA, was limited to four points and committed four of the Bulldogs' 13 turnovers.
Gonzaga started the second half strong and went ahead 38-34 when Byron Wesley made a free throw to cap his three-point play less than four minutes in. It was the largest deficit Duke has faced all tournament.
A five-minute drought ensued, however, and the subsequent 9-0 run put Duke ahead to stay. Matt Jones' fourth and final 3-pointer gave the Blue Devils a 48-42 lead with under 10 minutes to play, and after the Bulldogs pulled within two, Duke went on a 13-1 run to end the game.
After Wiltjer missed a wide-open layup, Winslow scored seven consecutive points -- four from the foul line and a big 3-pointer that yielded a 60-51 cushion. Matt Jones put the finishing touches on the win with a steal and layup in the final minute.
"We were right there...and we just had some empty possessions," said Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "I thought they played great defense on us. That was probably the difference."
Duke scored on six of its first eight possessions and held a healthy 23-12 lead after Okafor converted a three-point play with just under 12 minutes left in the opening half.
The Blue Devils made just two field goals the rest of the half, though, and Domantas Sabonis helped the Bulldogs pull within one, 27-26, by scoring seven points during a 14-4 run.
It was a 31-26 game in Duke's favor at halftime -- a low-scoring 20 minutes for two of the highest scoring teams in the nation.
The Blue Devils' 16 Final Four appearances rank fourth all-time ... When Duke won the national title in 2010 -- the last time it reached the Final Four -- it took the South Region as a No. 1 seed ... Gonzaga is 0-7 all-time against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament ... Winslow had his ankle taped on the sideline after turning his ankle midway through the first half ... Duke's bench did not score ... Gonzaga outscored Duke in the paint 40-24 but gave up 17 points off turnovers.