Coach K Leads Duke To Victory In Comeback From Back Surgery

By Nikko Villanueva, Posted: 02/05/17 11:53PM EST

Coach K is back and so is his winning touch as Duke bested Pittsburgh Saturday, 72-64. This is the first game for Coach Mike Krzyzewski in almost a month. He needed some time off after undergoing back surgery in January, with Jeff Capel filling his shoes during his absence. 

Krzyzewski received a warm welcome from the home crowd at the Cameroon Inside Stadium in his return. Following the Blue Devils' victory, the 69-year-old gave an emotional statement about his absence. He said according to the Associated Press, "You forget how lucky you are, until something is taken away from you. I'm going to be 70 years old in a week or so, and I still get this?"

The win over the Panthers extended Duke's winning streak to three games. The Blue Devils have now won four of their last five games to improve their record to 18-5, enough for the sixth spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Leading the way was controversial guard Grayson Allen who continues to wow the collegiate basketball scene despite the issues linked to him. 

Allen had 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists in 40 minutes of action. The 21-year-old was happy to see Krzyzewski back and stated, "His energy, his fight, his spark, seeing him in the huddle was big for us." He acknowledged the efforts of Capel, but said having their true head coach back is "nice."

Forward Amile Jefferson was a rebound away from a double-double for Duke. The senior tallied 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, with five blocks. Joining Allen and Jefferson in the double-digit scoring club were Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard who dropped 12 and 10 points respectively.

The Blue Devils continue their homestand this Thursday and on Saturday. On February 9, the Blue Devils face No. 12 North Carolina, this is before a February 11 game against Clemson. After this, Duke will hit the road on the 15th to play No. 9 Virginia. 

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