Coach K’s farewell tour: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke take first loss of season as Ohio State rallies late


Just four days after knocking off then-No. 1 Gonzaga 84-81 and only one day after rising to No. 1 itself, Duke found itself on the wrong side of a thriller against Ohio State on Nov. 30. The Buckeyes roared back from a 15-point second half deficit and outlasted the Blue Devils 71-66 to hand Duke its first loss of the season. The defeat sends the Blue Devils into a two-week break between games during legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final season with some things to work on.

One thing that is coming into focus as an issue for Duke is its lack of outside shooting. The Blue Devils made just 4 of 14 attempts from 3-point range against Ohio State and were only 1 of 8 from deep in the second half. Against the three quality opponents the Blue Devils have faced (Kentucky, Gonzaga, Ohio State), they are just 14 of 50 from 3-point range, which is merely a 28% clip. 

If the Blue Devils are going to reclaim the No. 1 spot at some point this season, they will need to develop more consistent outside shooting. Ultimately, though, the loss to Ohio State was no reason for panic. Duke has shown its potential in wins over Gonzaga and Kentucky and was clearly the better team in the first half on the road against a quality Buckeyes’ squad.

Krzyzewski is retiring after this season, which will be his 42nd as Duke’s coach, and handing the program over to his assistant and former Duke star Jon Scheyer. As Krzyzewski’s final season continues, we will update this piece with the latest tributes — and tribulations — from the farewell tour of a coaching legend. 

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Short stay at No. 1

Just one day after rising to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on the heels of a thrilling win over Gonzaga, Duke dropped a 71-66 decision at Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Buckeyes outscored Duke 41-23 in the second half and roared back from a 15-point deficit behind a 20-point night from sophomore big man Zed Key. Wendell Moore Jr. led the Blue Devils with 17, and Paolo Banchero added 14. But Banchero struggled in the second half, going 0-for-7 from the field in the second half.

Knocking off the Zags, rising to No. 1

Duke improved to 7-0 with an 84-81 win over No. 1 Gonzaga on Nov. 26 in front of a crowd of 20,389 at T-Mobile Arena. It was the largest 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 dealing with cramps in the second half and going quiet. Wendell Moore Jr. picked up the slack by scoring 16 of his 20 points in the second half.

The victory improved Krzyzewski to 7-11 all-time against No. 1 ranked teams, and it catapulted the Blue Devils to No. 1 in the new set of rankings released three days later.

Getting ready for Gonzaga

Duke easily won games against Lafayette and The Citadel on Nov. 19 and Nov. 22 as it prepared to face No. 1 Gonzaga on Nov. 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 combined 50 points from Moore and Paolo Banchero. There was a scary moment in the Citadel game, when Bulldogs’ coach Duggar Baucom collapsed on the court in the first half. He stayed overnight at Duke University Hospital and was released the afternoon after the game.

DWI charge for grandson

An otherwise sterling start to Krzyzewski’s final season hit a speed bump in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, when Duke walk-on Michael Savarino, who is Krzyzewski’s grandson, was arrested for suspicion of DWI. Complicating matters, Duke star freshman Paolo Banchero was a passenger in the vehicle and was cited for aiding and abetting DWI. But while Savarino was suspended, Banchero was not held out of any game action, as Krzyzewski explained “it’s two different situations.”

“Headlines might make it look like it’s the same,” he said. “It’s not. I think the decisions we made are in conjunction with our authorities, my superiors.”

West Point flashback

Duke played host to Army West Point on Nov. 12 in its home opener as part of the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase. The Blue Devils won 82-56, but the game carried special significance because Army is where Krzyzewski both played and first served as a head coach. Between his four years as a student at Army and five as the coach, Krzyzewski spent nearly a decade of his young adult life in West Point. Army explored his history with the program in a special tribute video released before the game.

Garden party

Krzyzewski’s final season began on a big stage, with the Blue Devils beating Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9 in the Champions Classic. The venue is one of Krzyzewski’s favorites, and it offered a parting gift to the legendary coach. 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 be nothing short of a disaster.

More on Coach K’s final season



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