Duke’s Coach K makes his final trip to UNC in Famed Rivalry | Sports News

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By AARON BEARD, AP Basketball Writer

The famous rivalry between No. 9 Duke and North Carolina is about to change.

A Hall of Fame coach has left, with Roy Williams of the Tar Heels retiring last spring and former UNC player and assistant Hubert Davis replacing him. On Saturday, outgoing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will make his final trip to Chapel Hill for the annual showdown.

Davis’ debut and Krzyzewski’s final leg on his farewell tour add another dynamic as rivals jostle for position atop the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure,” Duke big man Mark Williams said of Krzyzewski’s UNC final. “Obviously the stakes are a bit different, but we’re still playing the same game.”

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The Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 ACC) and Tar Heels (16-6, 8-3) each have four straight wins, with UNC joining Miami and Notre Dame just behind Duke.

But the focus will be on the sidelines.

In 42 seasons at Duke, Krzyzewski battled the late Hall of Famer Dean Smith, and he was a constant as UNC went from Smith to Bill Guthridge to Matt Doherty and 18 seasons under Williams. He coached Duke in the very first game at the Smith Center in January 1986.

Krzyzewski has also coached against Tar Heels greats like Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter and Tyler Hansbrough. This list includes Davis, who played for Smith from 1988 to 1992 and went 6-5 against Duke as a player before a 12-year NBA career.

And Krzyzewski won at Chapel Hill with Duke stars like Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Jay Williams and JJ Redick.

“Either here or there at the ball jump, and you look at the guys on the pitch, you say, ‘Whoa, there’s a lot of good players on the pitch,'” Krzyzewski said. “I saw so many great players play against us in Carolina uniforms, thank goodness we were able to get a few of those too, which made it amazing.

“That’s what I will remember the most, the level of talent of the two teams on the ground. We had so many amazing matches, some we won and some we lost. But these are very high level matches.

Krzyzewski, who turns 75 this month, is 49-46 against UNC, including road wins over field goals from Austin Rivers in 2012 and current Blue Devil Wendell Moore Jr. in 2020. Former Duke player and current associate head coach Jon Scheyer, 34, will succeed Krzyzewski this spring.

While UNC has a lot of respect for Duke, Tar Heels guard Caleb Love isn’t focused on Krzyzewski’s Chapel Hill final.

“I only think about what we have,” he said.

Davis, 51, has a similar feeling about his head coaching debut in the rivalry.

“I know it’s a special moment, but my goal is to do my job,” Davis said. “And my job is to prepare and train this team, and to prepare this team to play the best they can on Saturday.”

The most notable change for the Tar Heels has been a more perimeter-focused approach with an emphasis on floor spacing. This included adding big players who can open up the field with their shooting ability, including Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek and Marquette transfer Dawson Garcia.

But the Tar Heels have to do it without Garcia, who will miss his fifth straight game due to a family illness.

Beyond that, teams believe Saturday resembles the rest of the program battles with a total of 11 NCAA titles.

“Coach Roy Williams and what he means to the rivalry will obviously be missed,” Duke senior Joey Baker said. “And after his season when Coach left, he will be missed. At the end of the day, it’s still Duke and UNC. I think this rivalry will last forever.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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