Coach K farewell tour: Mike Krzyzewski leads Duke to Gonzaga for seventh win against No.1 team
Mike Krzyzewski’s 42nd and final season as Duke’s basketball coach gets off to a perfect start on the court after the No.5 Blue Devils improved to 7-0 with an 84-81 victory over No 1 Gonzaga Friday night. The victory allows Duke to climb to number one in the AP’s Top 25 on Monday before the Blue Devils move to face Ohio State on Tuesday in their last major non-conference test.
It was Duke’s first game against a No.1 ranked team since they knocked out the then No.1. 1 Syracuse 66-60 at home in the 2013-14 season, and the Blue Devils delivered. With the win, Krzyzewski has now won six of his last 10 games against a No.1 team and is 7-11 all-time against the No.1s. He’s also 4-1 against Gonzaga now. With victories over the No.10 Kentucky and the top-ranked Zags, the Blue Devils have officially put the struggles of the 2020-21 season behind them.
Krzyzewski is retiring after this season, which will be his 42nd as Duke coach, and hands the program over to his assistant and former Duke star Jon Scheyer. As Krzyzewski’s final season continues, we’ll update this piece with the final tributes – and tribulations – from a coaching legend’s farewell tour.
How to watch Duke vs. Ohio State live
Dated: Tuesday November 30 | Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Site: Value City Arena – Columbus, Ohio
TV: ESPN | Direct: fuboTV (Try for free)
Bring down the Zags
Duke improved to 7-0 with an 84-81 victory over No.1 Gonzaga on November 26 in front of a crowd of 20,389 at the T-Mobile Arena. It was the biggest crowd to ever see a basketball game in Nevada, and they were treated to a thriller. Paolo Banchero scored 20 points in the first half before facing cramps in the second half and calming down. Wendell Moore Jr. took over, scoring 16 of his 20 points in the second half.
The victory improved Krzyzewski to 7-11 against the No.1-ranked teams. But after knocking out the Zags, Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils have won six of their last 10 against top opponents.
Preparing for Gonzaga
Duke easily won games against Lafayette and The Citadel on November 19-22 as he prepared to face No.1 Gonzaga on November 26. The Blue Devils beat Lafayette 88-55 behind a 23-point outing from Wendell Moore Jr. Duke beat The Citadel 107-81 behind a total of 50 points from Moore and Paolo Banchero. There was a scary moment in the Citadel game, when Bulldogs coach Duggar Baucom collapsed on the pitch in the first half. He spent the night at Duke University Hospital and was released in the afternoon after the game.
CFA fees for the grandson
An otherwise excellent start to Krzyzewski’s final season hit a speed bump in the early morning hours of November 14, when Duke, Michael Savarino, who is Krzyzewski’s grandson, was arrested on suspicion of DWI. To complicate matters, Duke’s freshman Paolo Banchero was a passenger in the vehicle and was cited for helping and encouraging DWI. But while Savarino was suspended, Banchero was not left out of any game action, as Krzyzewski explained “these are two different situations”.
“The headlines might make it look like it’s the same thing,” he said. “This is not the case. I think the decisions we have taken are in collaboration with our authorities, my superiors.”
West Point Flashback
Duke hosted Army West Point on November 12 in its home opener as part of the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase. The Blue Devils won 82-56, but the game had special significance as it was Army that Krzyzewski played and first served as head coach. Between his four years as a student in the military and his five years as a coach, Krzyzewski spent nearly a decade of his young adult life at West Point. Army explored its history with the program in a special tribute video posted before the game.
Krzyzewski’s final season started off on a big stage, with the Blue Devils defeating Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on November 9 in the Champions Classic. The venue is one of Krzyzewski’s favorites, and he gave the legendary trainer a farewell gift. Krzyzewski is now 34-11 all-time at Madison Square Garden, and that record will remain unchanged unless the Blue Devils end up playing in the NIT, which would simply be a disaster.