NEW YORK – In 35 seasons at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski has coached 49 players that would go on to be drafted in the NBA.
But on Sunday he credited two Blue Devils’ reserves with helping him become the first Division I coach to win 1,000 games after Duke’s 77-68 win over the St. John’s Red Storm at Madison Square Garden.
Junior center Marshall Plumlee and sophomore guard Matt Jones were key factors down the stretch for fifth-ranked Duke (17-2), which was forced to overcome three 10-point deficits in the second half, the last one coming with 8:35 to play.
Plumlee hauled in three of his five rebounds in the last 7:38 of the game, and Jones contributed two rebounds and a steal during the same period as part of a 15-1 Blue Devil run. The duo finished with a combined 11 rebounds and six points.
“The celebration should be about (Marshall) Plumlee and (Matt) Jones,” said Krzyzewski. “They gave us so many plays in the last 10 minutes. Plumlee’s defensive rebounding and one big offensive rebound to keep an exchange going and Matt just playing with amazing heart.
“It just seemed to bring even more heart out of the other guys.”
In addition to the milestone victory to add to his record number of wins, Krzyzewski led the Blue Devils to four national championships, 13 Atlantic Coast Conference titles and 11 Final Fours. He also coached the U.S. Olympic Team to two gold medals.
“That is an incredible feat in today’s society,” Ohio State coach Thad Motta said from miles away regarding Krzyzewski’s 1,000th win. “He’s obviously at the pinnacle of our profession with what he’s done and the length of time he’s done it.”
Krzyzewski was simply relieved.
“I’m glad it’s over,” admitted Krzyzewski, flanked by his family, about the chase for 1,000. “We had six days off before today and there were things written about me that I didn’t even remember about me. There will be others that win more, but it is kind of neat to be the first one to 1,000 wins and the quality of competition we’ve had.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m honored. I’m the lucky guy who’s been at two great institutions in West Point and Duke. I’ve had unbelievable support.
“But there is an end in sight. It will end sooner than later, but hopefully not that soon.”
Freshman guard Tyus Jones led the Blue Devils with 22 points and six assists. Center Jahlil Okafor, the nation’s top-scoring freshman, added 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Sir’Dominic Pointer topped St. John’s (13-6) with 21 points and guard Rysheed Jordan added 18 points.
Krzyzewski has more victories than 112 of the 351 men’s Division 1 basketball programs, but his 1,000th featured some late drama.
The Blue Devils trailed for most of the second half before senior guard Quinn Cook’s 3-pointer off a Plumlee rebound gave Duke a 63-62 lead with 5:43 to go. Duke never relinquished that lead.
Jones nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner and converted three free throws after getting fouled beyond the arc in the previous possession to provide the Blue Demons with a 72-65 edge with 1:15 left to play.
A jumper from Pointer had kept the St. John’s lead at 10 points, 61-51, with 8:31 remaining, but a Blue Devils 15-1 run gave Duke a 66-62 cushion with 4:07 to play. Okafor and Cook contributed six points each in the run.
“Even though there were stretches where it wasn’t a beauty in terms of either team being able to find their rhythm offensively, you had two teams that were competing at a very high level,” said St. John’s coach Steve Lavin. “So in a game of runs, they (Duke) had the one that was the most important.
“They (Duke) made the decisive final run or final blow that we were not able to answer.”
The Red Storm opened a 53-43 lead in the first 5:47 of the second half, their largest lead at that point.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from guards D’Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene provided the Red Storm with a 43-39 lead at the half.
St. John’s tied it at 28 with 5:22 left in the first half thanks
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