Because all those Duke guards put up some big numbers, their Hall of Fame coach is on the brink of an even bigger one.
Mike Krzyzewski moved one victory from 1,000 for his career in the fifth-ranked Blue Devils’ 79-65 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night.
“It means we’re 16-2,” Krzyzewski said, referring to his team’s overall record. “That’s exactly what that means. And hopefully we can be 17-2 the next game we play, and that’s the way we approach everything. We’ll continue to approach it that way.”
Coach K improved to 999-308 during his 40-year career. His first chance to become the first men’s coach in Division I history to reach four figures comes Sunday against St. John’s in Madison Square Garden.
That’s also where in 2011 he passed Bob Knight as the winningest men’s coach in college basketball’s top tier.
Nearly everyone in the backcourt played a big role in this one for the Blue Devils (16-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) — who shot 46 percent and made 11 3-pointers while holding Pitt to three of them.
“We saw the ball go in,” Krzyzewski said.
Freshman Tyus Jones matched a season high with 22 points and hit a season-best four 3-pointers. So did Rasheed Sulaimon, who finished with 13 points. Quinn Cook — who was just 3-of-10 from the field — finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
And for the second straight game, the Blue Devils mixed in a 2-3 zone defense — an out-of-character move for Krzyzewski, a noted man-to-man disciple.
Jamel Artis had a career-high 21 points for Pitt (13-6, 3-3), which shot 45 percent and had its two-game winning streak snapped.
“We had open shots, we had good looks,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “We got exactly what we wanted, and at times it seemed like we haven’t handled that well.”
Pitt trailed by 21 in the second half before making things interesting down the stretch by twice cutting Duke’s lead to 10, the last coming on Michael Young’s layup with just more than a minute left to make it 75-65.
Pitt missed its next four shots while Justise Winslow, Amile Jefferson and Jones combined to make four of six free throws in the final minute.
Jahlil Okafor finished with 14 points. His three rebounds were a season low, but his five assists led the team.
That helped Krzyzewski inch closer to another milestone: This marked his 420th career ACC victory — two shy of the record held by his former chief rival, North Carolina’s Dean Smith.
Those two most recent wins came against schools that haven’t been in the ACC all that long. The Blue Devils took care of Pitt two days after beating league newcomer Louisville, in a game in which they debuted that zone D.
Winslow arrived in a bit of a slump and left sore. He made just five of 22 shots during his previous three games, then missed his first three shots before swishing a 3 with just more than a minute left in the first half. He finished with seven points on 2-of-7 shooting while twice going down with injuries to his right shoulder and ribs. Krzyzewski says the injuries don’t appear serious but Winslow could use a couple of days off.
Duke’s 11-of-23 shooting from 3-point range included an off night from long range for the team’s lone scholarship senior. Cook was just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. His teammates combined to make 10 of 15.
Pitt: Chris Jones finished with 13 points, and Young had 11. … Dixon fell to 22-17 against top-10 opponents and 12-10 against top-five teams.
Duke: Tyus Jones entered just 8-for-32 in ACC play before shooting 7-for-11 in this one.
Pitt plays host to No. 10 Louisville on Sunday.
Duke visits St. John’s on Sunday.
SOURCE: The Associated Press