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Coach K’s farewell tour: Mike Krzyzewski leads Duke over Gonzaga for his seventh win vs. a No. 1 team

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Mike Krzyzewski’s 42nd and final season as Duke’s basketball coach is off to a perfect start on the court after the No. 5 Blue Devils improved to 7-0 with an 84-81 win over No. 1 Gonzaga on Friday night. The win positions Duke to potentially move up to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on Monday before the Blue Devils travel to play Ohio State on Tuesday in their final major nonconference test.

It was Duke’s first game against a No. 1 ranked team since they knocked off then-No. 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 past 10 against a No. 1 team and is 7-11 all-time vs. No. 1s. He is also 4-1 all-time against Gonzaga now. With wins over 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’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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How to watch Duke vs. Ohio State live

Date: Tuesday, Nov. 30 | Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Value City Arena  — Columbus, Ohio
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Knocking off the Zags

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. But after knocking off the Zags, Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils have won six of their past 10 against top-ranked foes. 

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.”

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“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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