It got a little hairy Tuesday night in Cameron.
Actually, it got a lot hairy.
Duke was coasting to its 17th win of the season against Jeff Capel and his Pitt Panthers, leading 60-42, with 13:43 left when the Blue Devils went splat.
“We just got lazy on offense,” Tre Jones said. “We weren’t getting the shots we wanted to and they were getting easy leak-outs and we weren’t rotating like we should be and we weren’t talking like we should be.”
It went to 66-54 and then Duke got stuck on 66 for 2:18, as Pitt cut the lead to 66-61, then 68-65 before Duke righted the ship and pulled away for a 79-67 win.
“We let them drive into our paint way too much,” Jack White added “and after they got a few layups, we started collapsing and they got threes and they hit threes. To get out of it, we stopped letting them into the paint. They’re a driving team and they were able to get to the paint at will, in transition and the half court. Once we stopped that and buckled down and restricted them, we were able to pull away.”
Of course Duke had to play pretty good basketball to get that 18-point lead over a Pitt team with some big wins on their resume, Florida State and two over North Carolina among them.
Vernon Carey was a big part of that, figuratively and literally.
Capel said his team prioritized stopping Carey but didn’t come close.
“We wanted to prevent him from catching it deep. But we trying to gamble and trying to get steals. But he’s too big. It’s not going to happen. So, we gave up position right there. Our plan was to try to make him catch it deep and then go to double and not get to the right shoulder. We didn’t do a good job of that.”
Carey scored seven points in the first 3:15 and Duke was off to a 9-2 lead.
But Pitt wasn’t going to lay down and concede and they went on a 10-0 run. Duke caught up and took the lead for good at 18-16 on a Jordan Goldwire three-pointer.
Yes, Jordan Goldwire.
“We slumped off of him and he made three 3s in the first half . . . . We wanted to clog the lane and try to make some other guys to make some shots that hadn’t done it on a consistent level all season.”
Goldwire was 3-4 on threes in the first half, Jack White added a pair, Carey had 13 points and 8 rebounds and the Blue Devils went to the locker room up 45-34.
Then Duke outscored Pitt 15-8 to take that 18-point lead.
“When we started the second half we were scoring,” Capel said, “but we weren’t playing much defense and we were just exchanging baskets.”
The key to the Pitt comeback was a relative unknown, sophomore Au’Diese Toney, who came into the game averaging 7.3 points per game. But Toney scored 17 points in the first 13:43 of the second half, a couple of three-pointers and a bunch of layups.
“We looked like we were tired,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “We weren’t as aggressive, There was a lot of game pressure on our kids. But in the last four minutes of the game they were magnificent, which says a lot about the character of our guys. Vernon, we got him the ball and he responded. . . The leadership of Tre . . . . and Jack coming off the bench.”
Matthew Hurt was in foul trouble much of the game but he stepped up and made a couple of big foul shots to make it 70-65. Then Carey inside, then a Cassius Stanley 3-pointer and the lead was back to double digits. Toney got the last of his final 27 points to end an almost 4-minute drought and an 11-0 Duke run but that was it.
Carey ended the game with 26 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and a block in 36 minutes,
“Just attacking the boards. I feel like that starts my game personally, rebounds. Just finding my open teammates if they’re open. Just being aggressive.”
Those 36 minutes?
“I’ve been working on my conditioning lately and just being more efficient. If the coaches need me to that, I can do that. I feel like I did pretty well with that tonight.”
Tre Jones added 14 points and 8 assists, along with the leadership cited by Krzyzewski.
“In previous times, in the last half, we have crumbled a little bit. Just being able to fight through that adversity, when the ball isn’t bouncing our way and stuff like that to make the winning plays at the end of the game is huge for us and just shows that we’re learning from our mistakes.”
Goldwire (13) and Stanley (11) joined Carey and Jones in double figures.
Hurt and Stanley spent much of the game in foul trouble. Still, only six players saw double-digit minutes.
The win runs Duke’s record to 17-3, 7-2 in the ACC, while dropping Pitt to 13-8, 4-6.
There were some unusual sidebars, starting with Capel’s first visit to Duke as an opposing coach. Capel picked up a technical foul in the first half and says he was not told why.
Krzyzewski angrily stopped a Crazies chant asking Capel to “sit with us” late in the first half. Krzyzewski said he may not have correctly heard the chant and sort of apologized but added that the Crazies should be using more traditional cheers like “defense” or “let’s go.”
Capel said he didn’t hear anything.
Much of the post-game press conference was devoted to Krzyzewski’s thoughts on the late Kobe Bryant and how his death impacted his team, especially Stanley, a native of Southern California who discussed his college decision with Bryant. Krzyzewski recounted some emotional meetings with his team over the last few days.
Syracuse next, on the road, 8 P.M. Saturday.
- Duke men’s basketball outworks Pittsburgh, survives late comeback bid
- Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski scolds student section for heckling Jeff Capel
- Vernon Carey powers No. 9 Duke
- Furious Mike Krzyzewski screams at Cameron Crazies, then apologizes to Duke students
- Duke’s Coach K speaks about the death of Kobe Bryant
- Duke’s Coach K explains why he erupted at the Cameron Crazies
- Pitt puts up fight, but Au’Diese Toney’s career night not enough to beat Duke
- ’Your name means everything’: Jeff Capel returns to Duke and a state with deep family roots
- ’One of a kind’: How Pitt’s Jeff Capel, ACC coaches will remember Kobe Bryant
- No. 9 Duke defeats Pitt 79-67 behind 26 points by Carey 59 minutes ago
- Pitt men can’t close gap against Duke; Mike Krzyzewski yells at fans
- Capel, chaos and Cameron Crazies — on a night Duke won
Player Of The Game vs. Pitt
This poll is closed
Alex O’ Connell