A scythe has stalked Coach Ok’s profession since he introduced his plan to retire final July. On Saturday night time, Duke’s remaining Closing 4 of the Mike Krzyzewski period got here to a grisly finish. UNC’s 81-77 victory over their arch-rival additionally featured a well-known slayer in Caleb Love.
This was simply the worst Duke lack of the Coach Ok period and Love’s function in placing the kibosh on his profession elevated its efficiency exponentially. Worse than Eric Maynor pulling up close to the highest of the important thing to defeat Duke within the first spherical of the 2007 NCAA Match. Worse than C.J. McCollum main a No. 15 seed over Duke. Being dispatched by the nerds from Mercer was a kick within the gonads. UNC and Caleb Love got here in with extra sadistic intentions.
UNC and Duke spent the second half exchanging buckets and leads for many of the second half. Gripping a slim one-point lead, Love paused close to midcourt with 34 seconds remaining to dribble down the clock, scanned the ground, drove his defender into a tough display screen from RJ Davis, rose up from the highest of the important thing and sank the coup de grâce. Love’s dagger unleashed blood-curdling screams from Duke fandom, adopted by a deafening silence. Each traumatized Duke fan might be describing Love’s shot and the place they had been at to their therapists for the following decade-plus.
Channeling Mike Myers, Jason Vorhees, or that fisherman from I Know What You Did Final Summer season, Love is a slasher who has been holding onto that dagger for some time now. He’s spent the final two years saving his most ruthless performances for Duke. There have been diabolical villains in Duke-UNC lore, however Love’s would be the most attention-grabbing.
Two years in the past, Love’s affinity for Duke ran deep. His dad instructed Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Put up-Dispatch in 2020 that “Caleb’s dream faculty was Duke.” He added, “Coach Ok got here right here, we thought it was going to occur, after which, it didn’t occur.”
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 TheDevilsDen.com’s Steve Clark after Roach dedicated in Might 2019.
Love was the No. 2 level guard of their 2020 class in response to 247 Sports activities, which ranked Jeremy Roach fourth. The one level guard forward of Love was Cade Cunningham. ESPN’s hoops recruiting database thought-about Love its 18th finest recruit, and Roach was slotted at nineteenth. When Roach was supplied by Duke two years earlier than he might enroll and dedicated one 12 months later, Love opted to don the Carolina blue.
Coach Ok has unequivocally been the best faculty hoops recruiter of the previous 40 years. Nevertheless, the purpose guard he spurned being the distinction between Duke advancing to a storybook ending and UNC prevailing as a historic 8-seed, is an indelible dent within the lore of Krzyzewski which might be unattainable to buff out, together with Roach’s eight factors and 18 p.c capturing.
Love’s season-high as a freshman got here in a win over Duke. Two out of his three highest-scoring video games have now come in opposition to Duke. On Feb. 6, 2021, he erupted for 25 factors in his first win in opposition to Duke. He’d been hovering round averages of 10 factors per sport and capturing 35 p.c from the sector as much as that time. That night time he shot 56.3 p.c from the sector and 4-of-5 behind the arc. He did it once more a month later, scoring 18 on 50 p.c capturing and dished seven assists in UNC’s 18-point victory.
The one blemish on Love’s file in opposition to Duke was the measly eight factors he scored throughout a Feb. 5 loss during which he drained solely 3 out of 5 makes an attempt and shot 1-for-5 from deep.
He responded by crashing Coach Ok’s house finale celebration. Love scored 22, propelled by his excellent 12-for-12 capturing on the free-throw line, however their whole obliteration of Duke overshadowed him. Love’s 28 factors on 11-of-20 capturing from the sector had been much more outstanding when weighed in opposition to the burden Armando Bacot’s struggles inside positioned on him to excel.
It doesn’t matter what Caleb Love does from this level ahead, he’s a folks hero for UNC’s half of the Duke-UNC divide and etched within the recollections of Duke fandom as a terror.