Coach K ditches jacket, earns 900th win with Duke basketball
Removing a suit jacket may not be uncommon for head coaches, but is a rarity for Krzyzewski. After slogging through the opening 10 minutes of the game, the Blue Devils responded to Krzyzewski's fashion statement—reeling off a 12-2 run to create some breathing room between themselves and the Seminoles.
"He's always like that," point guard Quinn Cook, a junior, said of Krzyzewski's sideline intensity. "He wants the best for his team, and he was coaching his butt off. I think the guys will respond to it."
Respond they did. Duke closed the half on a 20-9 run in the final 7:30 to head into the locker room with a comfortable 43-25 advantage. The energy and aggressiveness that fueled Duke's first-half spurt never wavered in the second half, as the Blue Devils used a dominant rebounding performance and consistent free-throw shooting to dispatch Florida State 78-56, earning Krzyzewski his 900th career win at Duke.
It was fitting that the milestone victory for men's college basketball's all-time winningest coach came the way so many others had before. The Blue Devils won not on the backs of a freshman phenom or a terrific transfer, but due to the play of its role players. Although Krzyzewski abandoned the hockey-style line changes that he had featured during the past three games, the head coach still substituted liberally. Eight Blue Devils played at least 11 minutes.
"I'm proud of my guys. We beat a really good team," Krzyzewski said. "Our bench really came through.... I thought Marshall [Plumlee] played an outstanding game. Tyler [Thornton], we didn't know if he was going to play today. He's had the flu but he said he would give it a try and he played well. Rasheed [Sulaimon], obviously, can really penetrate and got us to the line. He handles the ball so well in those situations."
It was a convincing win for the No. 18 Blue Devils, who have now won four straight ACC games, but it wasn't always pretty. After Andre Dawkins knocked down two straight 3-pointers in a spot-start for Rodney Hood to open the game, Duke struggled mightily from the floor, posting its worst shooting performance of the season by going just 18-for-59.
A product of all the misses, though, was the ample opportunity for offensive rebounds. The Blue Devils had a field day, racking up 27 offensive boards en route to a 47-24 dismantling of the larger Seminoles on the glass, coming up with 29 second-chance points in the process.
"They're one of the biggest, if not the biggest team in the ACC, so as a team we knew we had to come ready and play with a lot of discipline," Plumlee said.
Jabari Parker posted his second straight double-double for the Blue Devils, hauling in 14 rebounds—10 of them offensive—to go with his 14 points. Duke also got a major shot in the arm from Plumlee, who set career highs with seven points and seven offensive rebounds of his own in just 12 minutes.
Rounding back into prime basketball shape after offseason surgery, the redshirt sophomore got his afternoon started with a thunderous putback dunk late in the first half, which ignited the Blue Devils' most dominant stretch of the game. On Duke's next possession, Plumlee grabbed an offensive rebound, leading to a 3-pointer by Cook. A Seminole turnover led to a dunk by Parker, and then Sulaimon fed Plumlee for a fast-break layup, turning a 34-21 lead into a 41-21 advantage in less than 90 seconds.
"It's so exciting to be out there when your teammates are excited and when Cameron is excited," Plumlee said. "It's easy to come off the bench when you're seeing Jabari, Rodney, Amile [Jefferson] and Josh [Hairston] set a good example of how to play hard and how to play together. I'm just following their lead."
Plumlee also did something he'd never done before in a Duke uniform—make a free throw. He entered the game 0-for-15 during his two-year career, but looked comfortable at the line Saturday, sinking three of his four attempts. The game got a bit chippy in the second half as Florida State was called for three flagrant fouls. Afterwards, Plumlee was asked whether he should be taking those free throws from now on.
"I'm a long ways to go from that, but just one step at a time," Plumlee said. "Free-throw shooting is frustrating because I know I'm a capable free throw shooter, but it was nice to see them go in."
Plumlee wasn't the only Blue Devil to have success at the charity stripe Saturday. As a team, Duke made 34 of its 43 attempts, both season-highs. Parker went 8-of-9 from the line, Hood went 9-of-11, and Sulaimon was a perfect 8-of-8. Krzyzewski credited his team's aggressiveness for getting Florida State in foul trouble.
"They protect the basket well, but with our driving we got them into foul trouble, got some second-chance points," Krzyzewski said. "Once we got them into that double bonus, we really wanted to drive the ball. The offensive rebounds led to our opportunities to shoot free throws, and that was really the story of the game."