February 12, 2019 will be a date that ACC fans around the country will remember forever. Louisville was beating Duke 59-36 with under 10 minutes remaining in the game. The game looked to be over as Mike Krzyzewski’s young bunch were not able to hit shots.
The Blue Devils caught fire late down the stretch as they outscored the Cardinals 35-10 to stun the KFC Yum! Center crowd, 71-69. Star freshman Zion Williamson had 27 points and 12 rebounds and told reporters what Coach K told them to spark the comeback.
“He said he doesn’t coach losers, he only coaches winners,” Williamson said. “He said go out there and play hard, and he can coach us to victory.”
The victory over Louisville brings R.J. Barrett’s comments about Duke wearing black on the road more validity. The Blue Devils should have been blown out by Louisville, but instead, the Cardinals are mourning a loss they should not have. A 23-point comeback with less than 10 minutes on the clock is remarkable, but big comebacks are nothing new for Duke.
According to the NCAA record books, Duke has three comeback victories of over 22 points in its history. Up until last year, the Blue Devils had the largest comeback in NCAA history when they beat Tulane on December 30, 1950, after trailing by 32 points. Duke also used to have the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history when it knocked off Maryland in the 2001 Final Four after trailing by 22 points.
Duke’s 23-point comeback is the second largest with under 10 minutes to play in NCAA history. VCU knocked off South Florida in January 1993 after trailing by 26 points with 9:26 remaining. The win keeps the Blue Devils atop the ACC with a record of 10-1, but more importantly, puts them in the driver’s seat to win the conference.
Duke still has to play North Carolina twice this season, but the Blue Devils have already created some separation from the back. The historic comeback could be the reason that Duke wins the ACC, instead of either Virginia or North Carolina.