The final of the NIT Season Tip-Off was everything most people thought it would be.
In the end, Arizona was a bit better than Duke, as it took home the championship with a 72-66 win at Madison Square Garden.
Rodney Hood started the scoring but Brandon Ashley quickly answered. T.J. McConnell and Quinn Cook then exchanged buckets as both teams were tied with just under 16 minutes left in the first half.
Kaleb Tarczewski proceeded to make two free-throws, but Jabari Parker matched it. Rasheed Sulaimon then hit a three and Cook followed with a basket of his own.
Ashley scored five consecutive points before Gabe York added his first points. Hood and Tarczewski then exchanged hoops before Hood scored again and Cook scored four more to put the Blue Devils up 19-15 with 10:41 left in the first half.
McConnell made two from the line and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored, followed by a basket from Nick Johnson.
After one free-throw from Parker, McConnell was able to hit a jumper. Hood answered almost right away and Sulaimon was fouled on a three, making all of the free-throws. However, Gordon and Ashley scored consecutive baskets to put the Wildcats up 27-25 with about seven minutes left in the half.
After a free-throw by Hood, a basket by Parker forced a timeout with the Blue Devils up 28-27 with about five minutes left in the first half.
Parker got on the board again, but York hit a three the next time down court. Parker then made another basket to give Duke a 32-30 lead with just under three minutes left in the half.
A shot by Ashley tied the game a few minutes later, but a Parker dunk put the Blue Devils back up two. Hollis-Jefferson made one of two from the line to bring Arizona within one, but a layup by Tyler Thornton put Duke up three at the half.
Hood was able to score to start the half, but Tarczewski made two from the line. Soon after, he got fouled again and made both from the line to bring the Wildcats within one with about 17 minutes left in regulation.
Sulaimon scored a few minutes later and Hood followed with a three-pointer. Hollis-Jefferson then scored to cut the Duke lead to 43-39 with just under 13 minutes left.
A three by Gordon brought the Wildcats closer, but Parker got to the line and made both. A three by Johnson with the shot clock expiring tied the game at 45 before Ashley scored on the offensive glass to give the Wildcats the lead.
After a basket by Johnson, Hood picked up a three-point play to bring the Blue Devils within one with 7:47 left in regulation.
Tarc was able to get a dunk and Gordon followed with a three-point play before a three by Johnson put Arizona up 57-48 with 6:21 left in regulation and forced a Duke timeout.
A three by Hood tried to get something going for Duke, but Arizona responded with consecutive buckets from Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson to put Arizona up 61-51 with 3:03 left in regulation.
Parker scored out of the timeout, but McConnell matched it with two free-throws. Hood then made two of his own from the line with about two minutes left before Parker had a three-point play. After two free-throws by Johnson, Parker made one of two from the line and Arizona led 65-59 with just under 40 seconds left.
Two free-throws from York gave Arizona the eight-point lead and two more extended it to ten as the Wildcats sealed the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship.