Legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski falls to North Carolina in final home game

Basketball

North Carolina spoiled the emotional home finale of retiring Hall of Fame Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski at Cameron Indoor Stadium, beating the fourth-ranked Blue Devils 94-81 on Saturday night.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures to the crowd as it cheer prior to the Blue Devils' 94-81 loss to North Carolina on Saturday.(Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

North Carolina spoiled the emotional home finale of retiring Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski, beating fourth-ranked rival Duke 94-81 on Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The day that was all about the coach who has 1,196 career victories and five NCAA championships abruptly turned into a season-defining performance for the Tar Heels, who played fearlessly in an extra rowdy arena and shot 59 per cent after halftime.

By the final minutes, the Tar Heels (23-8, 15-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) were stretched the lead to double figures, hitting clinching free throws and leaving the "Cameron Crazies" in disbelief that Krzyzewski's final home game after 42 years at the helm of Duke would end this way.

The school held an on-court ceremony for Krzyzewski after the game, though the coach first grabbed the microphone with the loss on his mind.

"I'm sorry about this afternoon," he began, then waved off cheers from the fans. "Today was unacceptable, but the season has been very acceptable. And the season isn't over."

Coach K's Cameron. The greatest sports venue in the world.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CoachK?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CoachK</a> 🐐🏰 <a href="https://t.co/870icVOeUj">pic.twitter.com/870icVOeUj</a>

&mdash;@DukeMBB

Krzyzewski could only watch from his seat at the end, with UNC in firm control. And when the horn sounded, the Tar Heels mobbed each other to celebrate on the court, while Caleb Love — who overcame an 0-for-8 shooting start to score 15 of his 22 points after halftime — jawed at the Crazies.

Armando Bacot scored 23 points to lead UNC. Freshman Paolo Banchero scored 23 points for the Blue Devils (26-5, 16-4), who shot just 42 per cent.

Farewell tour

Krzyzewski's Cameron farewell was highly anticipated since he announced his plan last June: A final season that would become a farewell tour of sorts, a last championship run with another talented team featuring high-end NBA-calibre talent.

He has spent the better part of that time deflecting questions about his looming retirement — even eschewing the use of the word "last" — and trying to avoid being a distraction or creating additional pressure on his team. That began to change more in recent days as the moment drew near for a coach who has long taken a live-in-the-moment approach on everything.

Fans hold up a sign for Krzyzewski ahead of his final home game.(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Even then, he knew he would have to prepare for the emotional spectacle, saying he'd "have a meeting" to give himself the kind of chat he had given so many of his players before their final game.

More than 90 former players were in attendance, including some of the program's biggest names like Grant Hill, Shane Battier, J.J. Redick, Jay Williams, Danny Ferry and Christian Laettner.

They gathered to create two lines on the court — several motioning to the student section for more noise or capturing video with their cell phones — to make an aisle for Krzyzewski to walk to midcourt to join them for a group photo captured from the rafters.

After returning for the final pregame minutes, Krzyzewski appeared to be fighting back tears during the national anthem and dabbing his eyes with a tissue during the final huddle before tipoff.

Associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who is designated as Krzyzewski's successor next season, took a moment to pat his mentor on the right shin before the opening tip.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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