Durham, NC – The first time Duke played Belmont, the Blue point decision. On Friday night, Belmont challenged the No. 6 team in the nation yet again, but like before, Mike Krzyzewski's squad gutted out another tight victory.
Andre Dawkins hit a big three-pointer in the final minute, lifting Duke to a 77-76 triumph, the 901st in the career of Krzyzewski. That places him one victory shy of matching Bob Knight as the winningest coach in NCAA Division I history.
Mason Plumlee had 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists for the Blue Devils (1-0), who nearly wasted a 16-point lead in the second half, but held on for their 87th straight non-conference home win, the longest current streak in the NCAA.
Belmont (0-1) suffered a 71-70 loss in the only other meeting between these teams, but the Bruins seemed prime to pull off the shocker after Ian Clark somehow got the ball to go through the hoop with 51 seconds left. He lost the ball while being fouled, but it caromed off the backboard and he canned the free throw for a 72-71 margin.
Duke called a timeout with 27.8 seconds left. Then, with the shot clock about to expire, Dawkins launched a successful long three from the top of the arc with 16.7 seconds left.
Kerron Johnson's layup had Belmont within two with 9.5 seconds showing, but Ryan Kelly sank two big free throws with 7.1 ticks remaining. Clark made a three as time expired in this contest, which was part of the Maui Invitational.
As always, the atmosphere should be electric again at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday when the Blue Devils take on Presbyterian. That's when Coach K can match Knight's mark of 902 victories. Although nothing can be taken for granted, assuming the Blue Devils win, Krzyzewski could pass Knight on Tuesday when the Blue Devils battle Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.