Kentucky Stomps All Over Kansas; Coach K Is Division I’s Winningest Man Ever

Coach K is a pretty cool dude. Always smooth. Always chill. But at about the 12.9 second mark of the second half last night – after he had seen Michigan State chip into Duke’s lead and Mason Plumlee get called for a five-second violation – he had to be feeling that sweat on his brow just a little bit. But after a Spartan miss, the biggest drama of the night was over, the Dukies had won 74-69 and Mike Krzyzewski had the record. He’s now the winningest coach in Division I men’s basketball history with 903 wins, passing one of the men calling the game, Bob Knight. Seriously though, this joint couldn’t have been scripted any better: in MSG, against another great coach in Tom Izzo, playing against a gritty and tough team, and with his mentor looking on, Coach K got what he came for. The two teams played to a virtual standstill for the first 31 minutes before Duke went off for a 20-1 run. That was the difference, as was the perimeter play from Duke’s two returning guards. Seth Curry (20 points, seven rebounds) and Andre Dawkins (26 points, six treys) were straight-up studs. They controlled the game, the offense, and without them, Michigan State would’ve won this thing easily behind Keith Appling (22 points). Jay Bilas was harping on this Blue Devils team’s lack of creators off the bounce all night. That isn’t their strength, but at least for last night, it didn’t matter at all for Dawkins and Curry. We love to hate on the Dukies – they’re a very easy target. But no one’s hating on Coach K today. Impressive stuff … In the nightcap, Kentucky not only strolled into the grandest stage in New York City, but they showed out and showed up one of the better teams in the country in Kansas. Cal‘s kids passed their first test, winning 75-65, and doing it in the fashion we’ve come to expect from Calipari’s teams: up and down for parts of the night, only to come together for one or two game-deciding runs. Last night, that run came at the start of the second half, turning a tied game into a big, double-digit lead. From there, it was a wrap. Every Kentucky starter had at least a dozen points, with Anthony Davis doing it defensively (seven blocks) and Doron Lamb smoking from deep (17 points, three treys). The ‘Cats only issues – outside shooting and turnovers – weren’t too big of factors last night. Still, Marquis Teague looked like he was playing in an AAU game. The Jayhawks better come up with a bench because there’s only so much Tyshawn Taylor (22 points, 15-17 from the line) can do … Did we mention that ‘Cuse was really deep? We’ll say it again. In their easy 98-74 win over Albany, the starters and the bench each scored exactly 49 points. That’s versatility. James Southerland, who was incredibly disappointing in his first two years in upstate New York, has been a revelation so far this season. He scored 19 last night, Kris Joseph had 19 of his own and Syracuse finished with another very easy win … Memphis might be the fastest team in the country, and they showed it in their 97-81 win over Belmont. Joe Jackson (20 points, seven assists) had trouble at times last year running the offense and doing the little things as a point guard, but he was great yesterday, controlling the game and deciding when to slow up and when to speed it up. Belmont – who should’ve beaten Duke – never really had a shot against the Tigers, and that’s saying something. Memphis forced 18 turnovers, and Will Barton and Wesley Witherspoon dropped 23 and 22 points respectively. Some people said they weren’t deserving of their No. 10 spot. They shut everyone up … We were ready to say Baylor has a ways to go. No Perry Jones yes, but their guards were really struggling yesterday. Quincy Miller (20 points) might be their best playmaker and that’s not a good thing. In the first 10 minutes of their 77-67 win over San Diego St., they were turning it over, taking bad shots… looking pretty erratic for a top-15 team. But then Quincy Acy dropped a crazy reverse dunk on the Aztecs’ heads and it was on from there … Do we have our first Cinderella candidate of the season? Looks like it. Kent State took West Virginia’s best shot and busted them up in the second half in their own house, 70-60. Their coach had a prophetic halftime speech, saying WVUs freshmen would crumble and they did … Florida couldn’t handle Ohio State, losing 81-74. But all of the other top 25 teams won with big cushions: Xavier, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and Cal … Check out this epic fail from Dwight Howard this weekend during his charity game … Are the Grizzlies planning an overseas reunion during the lockout? Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph are both saying they’re looking into it. Marc Gasol is already over there, and we know how Z-Bo and Pau’s lil’ bro are best friends and are trying to play anywhere they can together. Everyone might as well call up the rest of the fellas and have a mini training camp with some European club. Too bad many league’s rules basically prohibit that … And if you need another reason to hate the owners, get heated at the Blazers’ Paul Allen. During the lockout, Allen is busy getting a superyacht spot in the 2012 Olympics for his baby, “Octopus.” The yacht has two helicopters, two submarines, a 63-foot service ship, a pool, and its own Wikipedia page … We’re out like Knight’s record.

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