Coach K is nearing the end of his illustrious Hall of Fame coaching career. Over the summer the “GOAT” announced the 2021-22 season would be his final one on the sidelines in Durham. College basketball’s all-time winningest coach has enjoyed success against the titans of college basketball over the years, in any venue.
Saturday night was no different as the Blue Devils blew out their archrival North Carolina Tar Heels from the opening tip, cruising to an 87-67 win at the Dean E. Smith Center. The win gives Coach K 17 wins in 37 trips to the Dean Dome. It’s the second-best record for any coach at the legendary venue.
Largest margins of victory for Mike Krzyzewski-coached Duke teams at North Carolina:
29 — 87-58 in 2002
20 — 87-67 TONIGHT
20 — 81-61 in 1999
16 — twice#DukeMBBStats
— #DukeMBBStats (@DukeMBBStats) February 6, 2022
It also ensures Coach K finishing his career with a winning record against his Tobacco Road foe. His first seven seasons (1980-86) at Duke, the Heels played at Carmichael Arena, a place K went (0-4). With the win Duke now holds a 50-46 lead in the historic rivalry during Coach K’s tenure.
Coach K: "Mickie and I decided the journey is gonna be over in a year. And we're gonna go after it as hard as we possibly can." pic.twitter.com/iYKO0U2v1A
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) June 3, 2021
Following the win Coach K spoke to the media from a podium inside of the Dean Dome for the last time.
“Our guys really played well tonight. We beat a really good team and hot team. It was a great atmosphere. I thought we started out so well, and we really won the first twelve minutes of the half.”
The rivalry, considered the best in all of college basketball, will have at least one more chapter as the Tar Heels visit Cameron Indoor Stadium for Coach K’s final home game March 5th.
The two iconic basketball programs are separated by 10 miles. Coach K took over a middling Blue Devils program in 1980 and turned them into the premier program in men’s college basketball. That only added spice and vitriol to the Duke/UNC rivalry.
— Duke Men’s Basketball (@DukeMBB) February 6, 2022
His battles with Dean Smith and then Roy Williams from 2003 until last season are the stuff of college basketball lore. The two programs have produced some of the best players in basketball history (Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, James Worthy, Kyrie Irving, just to name a few) and been linked for decades. During K’s tenure each has won five national championships. Duke in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015. UNC in 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2017.
UNC Doesn’t Honor Coach K: That’d Be Like Auburn Honoring Nick Saban
The Tar Heels didn’t honor Coach K, and while many seemed shocked by it, it’s not all that surprising. In many ways, that would be like Auburn honoring Nick Saban, and that’s not happening. Ross Martin of Inside Carolina mentioned that there were no plans for anything to honor Coach K. And he was correct.
“No gifts, special ceremony, or anything of that nature.”
#UNC does not plan to do anything special (outside of a mention at the intro) for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski next Saturday, Feb. 5.
Krzyzewski will be coaching his final game in the Smith Center.
No gifts, special ceremony, or anything of that nature.
— Ross Martin (@RossMartin_IC) January 28, 2022
But they did give him an explicit sendoff …
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 5, 2022
It really is the ultimate sign of respect considering how bloodthirsty and contentious and competitive this rivalry has been. A final acknowledgment of a worthy rival.
Coach K was asked about the heckling.
“I’m used to that. Somebody just told me that this is my 96th game. So at least half — probably 42 of them have been in here in Chapel Hill. So, I’m accustomed to that. I expect that. So, I got what I expected, and I’m always ready for it.”
Coach K also talked about what he’ll remember most about the rivalry ….
“That’s what I’ll remember most. The level of talent from both teams on the court. We’ve had so many amazing games, you know, some that we’ve won and some that we’ve lost. But they’ve been really high-level games.”
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