A scythe has stalked Coach K’s career since he announced his retirement plans last July. On Saturday night, the Duke’s Finals in the Mike Krzyzewski era came to a macabre end. UNC’s 81-77 victory over their arch-rival also featured a familiar assassin in Caleb Love.
This is easily the Duke’s worst loss of the Coach K era, and Love’s role in introducing the kibosh into his career has exponentially increased its potency. Worse Eric Maynor pulled up near the top of the key to beat Duke in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Worse than CJ McCollum Top 15 seed than Duke. Sent by nerds from Mercer is a hit in the gonads. UNC and Caleb Love arrive with more brutal intentions.
UNC and Duke spent the second half exchanging and leading for most of the second half. Leading by a slim point, Love paused near the middle of the game with 34 seconds remaining to dribble down the clock, sweep the floor, push his defender into hard screen from RJ Davis, get ahead from the top of the key. and sink the graceful coup. Love’s dagger emitted bloody screams from the Duke fandom, followed by a deafening silence. Every traumatized Duke fan will describe Love’s footage and the place they’ve been with their therapist over the next decade or so.
Channeling Mike Myers, Jason Vorhees, or that fisherman from I know what you did last summer, Love is a killer who has been holding onto that dagger ever since. He’s spent the past two years saving his most ruthless performances for Duke. There have been evil villains in Duke-UNC lore, but Love’s may be the most interesting.
Two years ago, Love’s relationship with Duke had deepened. His father told Benjamin Hochman of St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2020 that “Caleb’s Dream School Is Duke.” He added, “Coach K came here, we thought it was going to happen, and then it didn’t.”
The Heels sophomore point guard only committed to UNC during his senior year at Christian Brothers High School, where he was coached by Jayson Tatum’s father, after Duke secured a commitment from Jeremy Roach.
“Before Jeremy committed, they were just telling me that they wanted me to be the point guard for them, get my teammates involved and come in and compete to win for a national championship.” Love told Steve Clark of TheDevilsDen.com after Roach committed in May 2019.
According to Sportsbook 247, Love is the number 2 point guard in their 2020 division, followed by Jeremy Roach in 4th. The only point defender against Love was Cade Cunningham. ESPN’s hoops recruiting database considers Love the 18th best player and Roach is ranked 19th. When Roach was recommended by Duke two years before he could enter and commit one year later. , Love chose to wear Carolina blue.
Coach K is clearly the greatest college recruiter of the past 40 years. However, the point of defense he rejects is that the difference between Duke heading to the epilogue and UNC dominating as the historic No.8 seed, is an indelible dent in the lore of the story. Krzyzewski that won’t be able to raise, along with Roach’s eight points and Shooting 18 percent.
Peak love as a freshman won over Duke. Two of his top three matches were against Duke. On February 6, 2021, he scored 25 points in his first win over Duke. He was averaging 10 points per game and shooting 35% from the pitch up to that point. That night, he shot 56.3% from the field and 4/5 games behind the arc. He did it again a month later, scoring 18 points on a 50% shot and making seven assists in UNC’s 18-point win.
The only weak point in Love’s record against Duke was the eight points he scored in a February 5 loss, in which he drew only three of his five attempts and shot 1-5 from the depth.
He responded by crashing into the final celebration at Coach K. Love’s home, scoring 22 points, fueled by his perfect 12 to 12 shot at the free-throw line, but wasted Their utter destruction of Duke overshadowed him. Love’s 28 points on a penalty kick from off the field are even more remarkable when balanced against the burden Armando Bacot’s inner struggle places on him to excel.
No matter what Caleb Love does from this point on, he remains a folk hero to the UNC half of the Duke-UNC split and is etched in the memory of the Duke fandom as a horror. King.