There have been plenty of high points for Duke basketball over the past decade. So finding the top 10 was particularly challenging.
We took at shot at it, however. To be sure, there are plenty of moments that got left out, including ACC Tournament titles in 2010 and 2011, an ACC regular season clinching win in 2010, Tyler Thornton’s game winning three against Kansas in Maui, the 20-point comeback against NC State in 2012 and any number of wins over North Carolina.
Over the next five days, we’ll relive the top 10 moments of the last decade for Duke basketball. Today, we start with an epic comeback and a storybook return.
10. Record-setting Bagley leads Duke past Texas:
It was one of the most exciting midseason tournaments in recent memory: Sixteen of the top Nike programs in the country gathered in Portland to pay homage to Phil Knight, the founder of the legendary shoe company, on his 80 birthday. No. 1 Duke was matched with Texas in the second round of the Motion Bracket of the PK80 invitational and was on the ropes. The Longhorns led by 12 at the half and stretched it to 16 with 11:09 remaining.
Wendell Carter Jr. scored nine points down the stretch, including a three possession run on each end where he had a dunk, block, rebound, layup, steal and layup. Duke tied the score at 73, and Marvin Bagley III scored Duke’s first 10 points in overtime, on his way to a freshman record-tying 34 points. Duke won the PK80 title the next day.
9. Ryan Kelly makes triumphant return:
Duke had a veteran roster in 2012-13, led by seniors Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. The team stormed out of the gate, winning its first 15, then injuries started to mount. The grey walking boot became as common as Krzyzewskiville tents around Cameron Indoor, as Curry and Kelly both nursed nagging problems.
Kelly’s ankle finally put him on the shelf on January 8. He would miss 13 games, during which Duke suffered its first four losses of the year.
Finally, on March 2, Kelly was ready to return to the floor, against Miami. With just a half a practice under his belt, Kelly was in the starting lineup, with instructions from coach Mike Krzyzewski to go as hard as he could and let him know when he got tired.
Just 25 seconds into the game, Kelly let fly with his first three-pointer. It missed. After hitting one a minute and a half later, Kelly missed again from three.
Then it was time to fasten your seat belt.
Kelly made his next six threes to finish 7-of-9 from long range and 10-of-14 from the field. He finished with 36 points on the night.
“We were all privileged to see one of the performances of the ages,” Krzyzewski said. “Probably as good of a performance as any Duke player has had in Cameron.”