DUKE HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI Opening Statement: “We beat a really good team tonight, and our guys, we were really good. We actually played even better than what we’ve actually practiced, and when you play a really good team, they take you to another level, because in order to win, you have to go to another level. I thought that we shared the ball extremely well and had 19 assists, held our own on the boards, Tre (Jones) was magnificent really tonight and Vernon (Carey), we should not start him. It’s the most bench points we’ve ever had I think, it’s a good way to be leading the league, leading the country in bench points but saying how hard our guys played, really a key is J-Rob (Justin Robinson). I mean Justin Robinson has been a godsend for us. He had his fingerprints on every aspect of the game tonight. His four blocks, but he helped change some shots, rebounds, and we were able to execute down the stretch with him making a few assists. You know, Vernon was, we have to play J-Rob too because he’s perfected the flange shot. I never see anybody, they hit the flange and it goes in, he’s done that twice, so he’s got to teach that, but his three at the end of the clock and then Cassius’s (Stanley) three, huge. You get six points in those two possessions, and then we didn’t turn it over and we hit free throws, and the crowd was amazing, just what a great night for our program and to finish off the regular season with 15 conference wins and 25 wins overall, it’s just tremendous.”
On how Duke shut down Carolina’s ability to get transition points:
“Thank you for the question, because that’s been the biggest point of emphasis in our practices is to get back, even at the expense of not going to the offensive boards, and not to get back with your man, but just to get back in lanes and if Vernon was trying to score the bucket and they got the rebound, Vernon would have to be the second big, things like that, then J-Rob or Jav (Javin DeLaurier) or Jack (White) or whatever would go back. Say Cassius was on Leaky Black, but Leaky was on that side of the court, you just come back in lanes and you take the person that you’re with, and same thing with Tre, if someone does go out, he has to take that guy and someone else has to take the ball and really worked a lot on it, that and rebounding, because they killed us in both areas. We were fortunate to win there. We weren’t fortunate to win here. We played a solid, really good basketball game, but we got better in those two areas.”
On how important Justin Robinson is going forward:
“He knows everything. He’s tough and it’s better than Rudy, you know. It’s almost like a movie, for crying out loud. He’s been outstanding and hopefully he can keep it going, because he’s made us better, there’s no question about it.”
On if he told Justin Robinson if he would have an important role in this game:
“Yes, I did, did you talk to him? We started the three seniors, or J-Rob, grad, and it really was our best start that we’ve had in a couple months, because they were tough. J-Rob knows that he’s a big part of what we’re doing going forward.”
On what changed in Justin Robinson to earn him the playing time:
“He’s really turned it up in practice, you know, not that he hasn’t been a good practice player but my staff just said, we have to give him a shot, not to have that, he’s a walk-on, no he’s a good player. We need him, we need him. He can not only play at the four, but he can play small at the five, because he can shoot, it stretches the defense. It’s a huge story, it’s just an amazing story, so well-deserving, he’s such a special kid.”
On the importance of having the ACC Tournament in Greensboro again:
“I love Greensboro. It’s where I grew up. A lot of amazing memories, wins, amazing wins, tough losses, great games. When I think of Greensboro, I think of the ACC and the magnificence of our conference, it’s a showcase. Other venues have been good, I’m not sure any venue showcases our basketball for the ACC as well as Greensboro, because everyone who’s there and the city themselves, they embrace it. It’s really like history, they get it, they get it. It’s not just current, there will be a lot of talking about remember in 1970, remember in ’86. I remember ’86, that’s where we won our first ACC championship and I can remember beating Bobby Cremins’ team, an amazing game, and hugging Johnny (Dawkins), and that was our first ACC tournament championship, and we’ve won a number of them since then.”
On what it meant to him to give Antonio Sellers the game ball:
“He’s angelic. You interviewed him, you know. There’s something very special about him. So Antonio has brain tumors last year, he’s a heck of a player and we’re hoping that there is a cure for him, but last night, he was able to meet the students and became part of the Brotherhood, but before going on the court, he and his dad and I were talking, and I said, ‘This has been a tough year for you,’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘Have you ever been afraid? Have you ever been really down?’ He said, ‘Yes, but no more. I cried sad tears. Coach, I don’t cry sad tears anymore. I only cry happy tears.’ And I said, ‘What makes you happy?’ He said, ‘Being here.’ But the fact that he’s eliminated sad tears, all of us should eliminate sad tears, because none of us have it as tough as that kid. He’s angelic. We’re fortunate to be with him. He’s so damn good, this was so good for us to be with him.”
• Mike Krzyzewski is in his 40th season as Duke’s head coach, and his record is now 1,084-291 at Duke, and 1,157-350 overall in this, his 45th season overall.
• The game marked the 253rd in the series versus North Carolina, with UNC now leading 139-114. In Durham, the all-time series favors Duke, 55-49, including 46-37 at Cameron Indoor Stadium).
• Duke has now won three straight in the series for the first time since winning four straight between 2014 and 2016.
• Duke completed its 17th regular-season sweep of North Carolina in the ACC era (since 1953-54), and its first since 2015.
• The Blue Devils have now connected on at least one three-pointer in 1,090 consecutive games, which is the second-longest active streak in the nation.
• Duke finished with four players in double-figure points for the 19th time this season. The Blue Devils are 17-2 in those games.
• Duke is now 15-1 this season when scoring 85+ points in a game.
• Duke recorded eight blocks, marking its 24th game this season, and seventh straight game with five or more blocks.
• The Blue Devils were 29-of-33 (.879) from the free throw line and are 116-for-140 (.829) from the line over their last five games.
• The game marked the 472nd consecutive sellout at Cameron Indoor Stadium – the longest active streak by time in either men’s college basketball or the NBA. Duke is now 430-42 in games during that sellout streak.
• Graduate student Justin Robinson earned his first career start on Senior Night and played a career high 25 minutes, matching his career high of 13 points and six rebounds, and setting career highs in assists (three), blocks (four) and made three-pointers (four).
• He becomes just the second Duke senior on a Senior Night to post the following stat line — 10+ points, 5+ rebounds, 3+ assists, 3+ blocks, joining Christian Laettner (3/8/92 vs. UNC) — 26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks.
• Robinson has scored 34 points over his last four games and is has shot 13-of-21 (.619) from the field and 7-of-10 (.700) from three-point range during that stretch with 14 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
• Sophomore Tre Jones scored 21 points while dishing out 11 assists for his third career double-double (all this season). It marks Jones’ fourth game this season with 10 or more assists.
• Jones went 10-of-10 from the free throw line to tie a career high. He also went 10-of-10 in a win at Syracuse on February 1.
• Freshman Vernon Carey Jr. recorded his 15th double-double of the season, scoring 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting and bringing down 10 rebounds. Ten of his double-doubles have been 20-10 performances.
• Duke plays in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET at the Greensboro Coliseum.