Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has already received a major scare en
route to a major milestone this weekend, but he insists his team
will be better for it.
Krzyzewski can match mentor Bob Knight atop the Division I men’s
career victory list Saturday when his sixth-ranked Blue Devils host
The Basketball Hall of Famer began his 37th season as a head
coach by improving his record to 901-284, but it wasn’t easy in a
77-76 victory over Belmont on Friday. Krzyzewski matched the win
total of Knight – his college coach at Army.
“I’m really proud of our guys, especially once the game pressure
was on us,” Krzyzewski said. “We grew up a lot tonight. You can’t
practice situations like that.”
Duke extended the nation’s longest home win streak to 37 games
and its run at Cameron Indoor Stadium over non-conference foes to
87. The Blue Devils’ last loss to a non-ACC team at home came Feb.
26, 2000, an 83-82 defeat to St. John’s.
“I thought overall we played really well,” Krzyzewski insisted.
“I thought we played a little bit better than they did, to be quite
Austin Rivers – one of three Blue Devils making his college
debut – and Seth Curry both scored 16 points. Duke, with one senior
on the roster, led by as many as 16 points but showed its youth
with 19 turnovers as Belmont – which won 30 games a season ago –
nearly pulled the upset.
“Our fans should understand that we played a really outstanding
basketball team tonight, just in case they don’t understand that,”
Krzyzewski said. “These guys are very, very good.”
Junior forward Mason Plumlee had a strong all-around game with
16 points, 14 boards and six assists for the Blue Devils.
“It’s great to start the season with a win, no matter how you
get it,” he said.
Presbyterian also opened at home Friday with a 103-73 rout of
NAIA opponent Montreat. The 103 points were the most for the Blue
Hens since a 111-51 victory over Carver Bible College on Feb. 16,
Al’Lonzo Coleman had a team-high 21 points in 15 minutes. No
player for the Blue Hens logged more than 26 minutes as
Presbyterian stayed relatively fresh for the second half of its
Duke and Presbyterian have met once previously, an 80-49 home
victory for the Blue Devils to open the 2008-09 season. Coleman,
one of three current starters for the Blue Hens who also started
that contest, had a team-high 13 points.
As the Blue Devils’ lone senior, Miles Plumlee is the only Duke
player to participate in that contest.
That gives the Blue Hens an advantage in terms of experience
Saturday. The Blue Devils lost their top three scorers from last
season, and know they have room for improvement.
“It’s a big win for us, a big confidence boost,” guard Andre
Dawkins said after beating Belmont. “Now we have to turn around and
move to the next game against Presbyterian tomorrow afternoon.”