Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is two wins shy of 1,000 at Duke and could reach the milestone at home Saturday against Utah Valley.
Among the Duke coach’s wins are five national championships and 14 ACC tournament titles and a bunch of regular-season thrillers.
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“The Shot,” March 28, 1992
A long throw from Grant Hill to Christian Laettner. One dribble and a turn by Laettner, then a buzzer-beater. It’s known simply as “The Shot,” and it came at the end of Duke’s overtime win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight of the 1992 NCAA tournament – and at the end of one of the greatest college basketball games ever played.
The game had been back and forth. With 2.1 seconds left, Duke was down by one. The Blue Devils would have to take the ball out of bounds under their own basket and go the length of the entire floor to score.
Hill, then a sophomore, took the ball out. He threw the ball with one hand 79 feet down the court, where it landed in the hands of then-senior forward Laettner.
Laettner, who jumped to catch the ball, came down with it, with his back facing the basket. He faked right, took one dribble, turned and shot the ball. The buzzer expired, the shot went in, and the Blue Devils won 104-103.
Duke advanced to the Final Four, and eventually won the national championship game against Michigan’s “Fab Five.” It was Duke’s second national championship.
“Miracle Minute,” Jan. 27, 2001
It was Jan. 27, 2001, and Duke, the No. 2 team in the country, was down by 10 points to Maryland with about one minute remaining.
Then-sophomore point guard Jason Williams, who had struggled for most of the game, and the Blue Devils were staging a comeback. Williams dribbled the ball up court, crossed over his defender and scored on a layup.
Now down by eight, Duke forced Maryland to turn the ball over with its full-court trap. The Blue Devils stole the ball, and Williams made a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to five points.
Duke would foul Maryland’s Drew Nicholas on the next possession sending him to the free-throw line. Nicholas, who was an 80 percent free-throw shooter that season, missed both of them. Duke’s Chris Duhon rebounded the basketball, passed it to Williams, who dribbled up court and scored on another 3.
Duke was now down by 2 with 40 seconds left.
“We just kept chipping away, kept believing, and we felt they would fold,” Duke assistant coach Nate James, who was then a fifth year senior, said Wednesday. “Looking back on it, I’m very proud of the way I played, and the way that team played for just always sticking together and making it happen.”
On the next possession, Duke forced another turnover. Mike Dunleavy Jr. missed a 3 that would have given Duke the lead, but James was fouled as he tried to tip the miss in.
James knocked down both free throws to tie the score with 22 seconds left.
“Maryland fans were going crazy, saying all types of ungodly things,” James recalled, “and that just made me focus even more. I just went through my routine, like you imagine when you’re a kid, and knocked them down.”
Maryland took the final shot but missed it at the buzzer.
Duke would go on to win 98-96 in overtime.
Oh. And this happened ...
The Baltimore Sun reported that Carlos Boozer’s mom, Renee Boozer, was struck in the head by a water bottle that was thrown behind Duke’s bench. She suffered a mild concussion and eventually reached a settlement with Maryland over her injuries.
James said his best friend and his uncle who traveled from Detroit to see the game were arrested for getting into an altercation with Maryland fans after the game. The charges were later dropped.
Austin Rivers’ buzzer beater in Chapel Hill, Feb. 9, 2012
It was Feb. 9, 2012 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
UNC led Duke the entire game and was up by 10 with just over two minutes remaining. But Duke started the comeback and eventually reduced the lead to 1.
Duke fouled UNC’s Tyler Zeller with 12.5 second left to put him at the free-throw line. Zeller made the first one but missed the second and UNC led 84-82.
Rivers dribbled the ball up court, and Mason Plumlee set a pick on UNC’s Reggie Bullock, who was guarding Rivers. As a result, Zeller, a 7-foot forward, switched onto Rivers. Duke’s Andre Dawkins started to come up to set another pick, but Rivers called him off, as he got the mismatch.
Rivers dribbled a few more times and pulled up from behind the 3-point line.
The shot went in as the buzzer sounded. Rivers ran down court, and his teammates jumped on him in celebration.
Duke beats Butler in 2010 national championship, April 5, 2010
It was a matchup made for the movies. Butler, a mid-major program coached by Brad Stevens, versus Duke, one of the nation’s most prominent basketball programs.
The game did not disappoint. Duke led by five points with about two minutes to play and seemed to be pulling away. Butler cut Duke’s lead to 3, 60-57, with 1:43 left in the game before cutting the lead down to 1.
Duke assistant coach Jon Scheyer, who was an All-American senior point guard for the Blue Devils at the time, remembers dribbling the ball up court with about 50 seconds left and seeing the 70,000 people in the crowd get on their feet and cheer.
“That was a pretty surreal moment, something you always dream of being in,” Scheyer said Tuesday.
He also remembers the half-court heave at the buzzer from Butler’s Gordon Hayward that nearly went in and would have won the game for the Bulldogs.
“I was right in front of him, and when he shot it, from the beginning it looked like it was on line,” Scheyer recalled. “The last second before it hit the backboard, I thought it was just off.
“It didn’t go in and the rest is history.”
Duke won the game 61-59 – the Blue Devils’ first national championship in nine years and fourth overall.
UNC at Duke, Jan. 29, 1997
More than three years after Jeff Capel first played against UNC, he and his fellow senior class had still never experienced a win over the Tar Heels.
UNC had beaten the Blue Devils seven straight times, dating back to Feb. 3, 1993.
“All those guys, especially the non-freshmen,” Capel said on Tuesday, “we had had our noses rubbed in you know what.”
But that was about to change on Jan. 29, 1997.
Capel recalls watching film earlier that week, and Krzyzewski telling the team, “We’re going to win. We’re not going to lose.”
Beating UNC before that senior class graduated was top priority. The Tar Heels had Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Shammond Williams and Ed Cota. It was also Hall-of-Fame coach Dean Smith’s final season at UNC.
Capel said Cameron Indoor Stadium that day was as loud as he could remember.
The game was close throughout, as both teams alternated leads.
But a series of big plays by Capel – a layup, a block that led to another layup, two assists and a steal – during the game’s final three minutes, gave Duke the lead for good.
After the win, the students stormed the court.
“It was typical of the Duke-Carolina rivalry,” Capel, now Duke’s associate head coach, said this week. “Doesn’t matter what the records were when those teams meet. That’s where the magic happens.”