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November 16, 2011NEW YORK - The man known simply as "Coach K" became Division I's winningest coach when No. 6 Duke beat Michigan State 74-69 on Tuesday night in the State Farm Champions Classic.
The Blue Devils gave Mike Krzyzewski his 903rd win, breaking the tie with Bob Knight, Krzyzewski's college coach at Army and his mentor throughout his professional career.
With Knight sitting across the court at the ESPN broadcast table, and with several former players in the stands, Krzyzewski moved to the top of the list in front of a sellout crowd of 19,979 at Madison Square Garden.
Krzyzewski went right across the court to hug Knight when the game ended. Krzyzewski, tears in his eyes, broke away, and Knight pulled him back, hands on his shoulders, then there was one final slap of the shoulder.
"I just told Coach I love him," Krzyzewski said. "I wouldn't be in this position without him. It's a moment shared. I know he's very proud, and I'm very proud to have been somebody who's worked under him and studied him and tried to be like him.
"I'm not sure how many people tell him they love him but I love him for what he's done for me and I thanked him. He said 'Boy, you've done pretty good for a kid who couldn't shoot.' I think that means he loves me too. At least that's how I'm taking that."
Junior guard Andre Dawkins had 26 points for Duke (3-0), which took control with a 20-1 run that gave the Blue Devils a 61-41 lead with 9:17 to play. Then it was just a matter of counting down the minutes - except for a late run by Michigan State that made it a five-point game in the final minute - until the celebration could get under way.
Dawkins, who had six 3-pointers, and Ryan Kelly hits 3s to start Duke's big run. As Michigan State (0-2) kept missing shots down low, Seth Curry hit another 3 for Duke and then the Blue Devils closed the run by making 6-of-6 attempts at the free throw line.
"We gave ourselves a chance, we played a hell of a first half and then we didn't do the job the second half," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "We had our opportunities to do things in the second half but we kept missing lay-ups and they hit some big 3s."
The Spartans kept Krzyzewski coaching to the final minute. They finally started hitting shots and forcing turnovers to close to 74-69 with 12.9 seconds left.
Curry had 20 points while Kelly added 14 for the Blue Devils, who were 10 of 21 from 3-point range.
"It's a special moment," Krzyzewski said of his family and former players being there. "At halftime I wasn't sure we were going to have this moment. We beat a really good team, and I'm glad now we can just move on and just develop our team."
Keith Appling had 22 points for Michigan State, and Brandon Wood added 15. The Spartans finished with 21 turnovers. It was Wood's best game at Michigan State since transferring this season from Valparaiso for his senior year.
"He looked more like an offensive player and played pretty good defense, too," Izzo said. "I was pleased with him. I thought a lot of guys did a good job in that respect.
"I was in a no-win situation," Izzo said. "I was either going to be the guy who threw the ball to Henry Aaron for the record breaker of the guy who shot Bambi."
Krzyzewski's latest win had a very similar plot to the previous 902 as the Blue Devils were patient in a spread offense that got them open 3s and they moved the ball around against a tired bunch of Spartans and finally found a way to the free throw line.
"Dawkins did a heck of a job, hit some tough shots," Izzo said. "They deserved to win, I just thought we played awfully well for about 30 minutes."
The Blue Devils finished 30-of-41 from the line.
Duke led 34-33 at the end of a sloppy first half. The Blue Devils were 6-of-11 from 3-point range while the Spartans were just 2-of-6. Michigan State was able to offset 11 turnovers by dominating inside, outscoring the Blue Devils 16-4 in the paint, including a 6-1 advantage in second-chance points.
"We did more good things than bad," Izzo said. "The problem is we are having those droughts, and then times when we miss opportunities and then don't check as well.
"I think these two games are good for us," Izzo said of MSU's season-opening losses to No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Duke. "I hate to say it, but I really do. I think it is going to help us in the long run. I think we have shown progress."
Krzyzewski moved to the top of the list in his 37th season, all but five at Duke. He also coached at West Point, his alma mater where Knight molded a point guard into a coach for the ages.
Knight won his 902 games in 42 seasons, six at Army, 29 at Indiana and seven at Texas Tech. Krzyzewski has four national championships while Knight has three.
Krzyzewski and Knight both led the United States to an Olympic gold medal, Knight in 1984 and Krzyzewski in 2008. Coach K will have a chance at a second gold when he leads the team of NBA players again in London next summer.
Another number they both had in common was high graduation rates throughout their careers.