Krzyzewski K-O’d: North Carolina takes down Duke 81-77

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NEW ORLEANS ⁠— Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s remarkable career came to thrilling and sudden close Saturday night after Caleb Love made a key 3-pointer and three late free throws to lift archrival North Carolina to a thrill-a-minute 81-77 victory over the Blue Devils.

This was the 258th, most consequential and maybe, just maybe, the very best meeting between these teams, whose arenas are separated by a scant 11 miles down in Tobacco Road.

The Tar Heels (29-9), of all teams, pinned the 368th and final loss on the 75-year-old Coach K, exactly four weeks after they ruined the going-away party in his final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

That loss hurt. This one stopped the coach’s last-gasp, storybook run one win away from a title game and a chance at his sixth championship. When it was over, after playing through the nip-and-tuck stretch run without a timeout, Krzyzewski walked calmly to halfcourt and shook the hand of Carolina’s rookie coach, Hubert Davis.

On Monday, Carolina will play Kansas for the title. The Jayhawks beat Villanova 81-65 earlier in the undercard.