Arizona Basketball

Recalling Arizona Wildcats history with Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski



Mike Krzyzewski in the waning seconds of Duke's win over Arizona in the 2001 NCAA title game (YouTube screen shot, click on photo to access video)

Mike Krzyzewski in the waning seconds of Duke’s win over Arizona in the 2001 NCAA title game (YouTube screen shot, click on photo to access video)

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Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski coached at the Durham, N.C., school three years before Lute Olson arrived at Arizona for the 1983-84 season.

At that point, Krzyzewski was 38-47 at Duke and his team finished no better than fifth in the ACC in those three years. Arizona was coming off its worst season, 4-24 overall, under Ben Lindsey, fired after his only dismal season in Tucson.

In 1983-84, the Blue Devils advanced to their first NCAA tournament under Krzyzewski, and Olson’s first Arizona team finished 11-17.

Nobody could foresee a rivalry of national proportions brewing between the two programs, now storied in the annals of college basketball. Arizona and Duke have developed into the top programs from the West and East, respectively, over the last 30 years. The Wildcats are more consistent winners than UCLA and Krzyzewski has built the most successful program in college hoops today.

Krzyzewski won his 1,000th game yesterday as a college head coach, combining his five years at Army with the 34 at Duke. Of those victories, three were against Arizona. One of the wins was one of the most significant in Krzyzewski’s career, the 82-72 victory over the Wildcats in the 2000-01 national title game in Minneapolis.

Arizona, however, has achieved something against Coach K which few programs have — a winning record against the 67-year-old coach.

The Wildcats are one of only six teams who have won more than they lost against Coach K, who is 3-5 against Arizona. He has a losing record against two other Pac-12 teams — California (1-2) and Stanford (1-2).

Krzyzewski also has losing marks against Arkansas (1-2), Louisville (2-4) and Wagner (0-1).

Arizona and Duke do not play as often in the regular season as they did in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. In a four-year stretch — from the 1987-88 season to 1990-91 — Olson and Krzyzewski coached against each other four times in the regular season. Olson had a 3-1 edge, with the only loss a close one (78-76) at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 25, 1990.

The last regular-season home-and-home regular-season game was in 1991, when the Wildcats beat Duke at McKale Center 103-96 in double-overtime.

Chris Mills hit a 10-footer to tie the game at the end of the first overtime period, and Arizona went on to beat Duke in the second overtime to extend the then-longest home-court winning streak in the nation to 61 games. In the first overtime, Duke guard Greg Koubek made what looked like a three-point shot with both feet behind the line, but 57 seconds later, the Pac-10 referees ruled that it was a two-pointer.


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

1-Steel Bowl Tournament; 2-Maui Invitational; 3-NCAA title game; 4-NCAA West Regional semifinal; 5-Preseason NIT championship
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Duke and Krzyzewski did not like the officiating in the 1987 and 1991 losses to Arizona at McKale Center. The series was not renewed thereafter.

The programs have played four games over the last 17 years at neutral sites with each winning two. Arizona has won the last two meetings against Krzyzewski, both under Sean Miller, in the Sweet 16 in 2011 and the Preseason NIT title game last year.

With both teams ranked in the top 10 again this season, another potential matchup looms in the NCAA tournament.


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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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