DURHAM — Duke got its Hall of Fame coach back and won his penultimate home game, 88-70 over Florida State on Saturday.
Mike Krzyzewski, who is retiring at the end of the season after 42 years as Duke head coach, returned to the Blue Devils bench. Krzyzewski felt ill in the first half of Wednesday’s game against Wake Forest and didn’t come out of the locker room for the second half.
“I just want to say I’m glad I made it to the end of the game,” Krzyzewski joked after Saturday’s game. “It’s about time. They pay me to do the whole game, not portions of it.”
In addition to getting back its legendary coach, Duke rediscovered its senior outside shooter. Joey Baker, who had played 10 minutes or fewer in each of the last five games and scored zero or two points in each of the last seven, had his best shooting game in more than a year.
Baker hadn’t made a 3-point shot since Jan. 25, missing his last eight over seven games, but knocked down four treys in the first half, his most in a game since Feb. 17 of last year. The shooting display helped Duke pull away from a game Florida State team.
“Joey saved us in the first half,” Krzyzewski said. “Joey was spectacular.”
Florida State entered the game missing five starters. The Seminoles have had a rash of injuries that led to a six-game losing streak FSU snapped earlier this week. In the last week, the Noles saw leading scorer Caleb Mills go down against UNC last Saturday and RayQuan Evans get injured in Tuesday’s win over Clemson.
Despite being short-handed, Florida State played Duke even through the first 15 minutes. The Blue Devils closed the half on a 12-2 run to go up 11 at the break then pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 24.
Baker finished with 12 points off the bench, joining all five starters in double figures. Paolo Banchero shook off a slow start to finish with a team-high 17.
The Blue Devils also shared the ball well, dishing out 25 assists on 32 made field goals. Trevor Keels led the way with eight, while Wendell Moore Jr. added seven and Jeremy Roach five. Moore also had six steals in the game.
Duke also avoided letting Florida State back into the game — a problem that has cropped up in each of the Blue Devils’ ACC losses and also against Wake Forest in a narrow win earlier this week.
“It was really important [to keep the lead tonight],” Keels said. “In timeouts, Coach told us, ‘Don’t let this happen again.’ He even told us at halftime when we were up 11. We talked to each other. We can’t have another 17-3 run like we did against Wake Forest. It was definitely great to put them away. We took care of business.”
The win gave Duke a one-game lead in the ACC, thanks to Notre Dame’s loss to Wake Forest earlier in the day. The Blue Devils now go on the road for three straight before closing the regular season against archrival North Carolina in Coach K’s final home game.
“I know it will be emotional the last game here,” Krzyzewski said. “Some of these games have been a little bit emotional for me in one way and another. Even today with all the crowd, you want to savor that feeling because you’re only going to be able to walk out on that court one more time and have that feeling, but it makes me understand how lucky I’ve been to do it hundreds of times. Not a dozen … like 600 times.”