Pitt coach Jeff Capel became just the second former Mike Krzyzewski assistant to beat his mentor as Pitt beat the Blue Devils, 79-73 on Tuesday. Coach K’s proteges are now 6-32 against him, all time, with the first five wins all recorded by Notre Dame’s Mike Brey.
In his second game back from a foot injury that cost him a month, Jalen Johnson had a huge game, playing 33 minutes and scoring 24 points with 15 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots.
“It’s been good getting back,” Johnson said. “Tonight was a tough loss, of course. I’m not worried about the production. My production is doing whatever it takes to help us win. Clearly, we’ve just got to do more as a team.”
Johnson was forced to watch from the sideline as Duke opened ACC play. “It was difficult, but at the end of the day I know the medical staff and my coaches are going to put me in the best position to not hopefully reinjure anything,” he said. “I wasn’t mad about it, but just focused on the next game and trying to get the win.” Johnson had four minutes in his return against Virginia Tech, but the Blue Devils then had a week between games to help him work on his conditioning and fitting back into Duke’s rotation. “That’s why Coach put me in, because he trusts me to be ready, bring energy and just play my game,” he said. Duke fell behind 8-0 early and spent the rest of the game trying to overcome the deficit. “It’s the game plan before the game,” Johnson said. “The main thing on the board was to be hungry and have toughness – we’ve got to box out. It wasn’t foreign to us. We knew the game plan and what we had to do to win. We just really didn’t execute it like we should’ve.”