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Coach K's Sweet 16: First national title against Kansas

After four previous trips to the Final Four, Coach K secured his first title in 1991.
After four previous trips to the Final Four, Coach K secured his first title in 1991.

This article is the fourth of 16 in our "Coach K's Sweet 16" series, where we will walk back through the legendary head coach's career and recap his most iconic moments. For the full list, click here.

After defeating No. 1 UNLV two nights prior, the No. 6 Blue Devils set foot in the RCA Dome Apr. 1, 1991, determined to bring home some hardware. 

The previous year, a similar Duke roster fell to the Runnin’ Rebels 103-73 in the final game of the tournament. Yet, in an opposite result, Duke forward Christian Laettner, competing against the undefeated powerhouse again, led the Blue Devils to victory in Indianapolis in the national semifinals.

On the same night, in the other Final Four match, a young Roy Williams would lead Kansas in defeating the program he would eventually coach and read icon status with, North Carolina, 79-73. 

Duke entered the final 31-7 to the No. 12 Jayhawks’ 27-7 record, with the Blue Devils favored to win.

And win they did. From the tip, Duke had its sights on the title. Early on, a strong-willed pass from sophomore Bobby Hurley resulted in a dunk by freshman Grant Hill, giving the Blue Devils a 6-1 lead within the first three minutes. Duke consistently maintained its lead despite some close calls between the two, ending the first half with a 42-34 edge thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Thomas Hill.

The second half was even more exceptional. The Blue Devils’ biggest lead was a 14-point advantage, but eventually, Kansas caught up to Duke to make the score 70-65 with less than 35 seconds remaining. Yet, the Jayhawks never inched further beyond that, with junior Brian Davis making the final dunk to close off the game 72-65.

Finally, after going empty-handed in four previous Final Fours, head coach Mike Krzyzewski had captured his first National Championship on the fifth try.


Ana Young | Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.

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