Duke basketball comeback: A few of the best ever rallies
Duke’s monumental comeback win Tuesday at Louisville had social media ablaze and the game highlights quickly going viral.
The score was 59-36, Cardinals, with a little more than nine minutes left in the second half. No way the Blue Devils could climb out of that hole. Climb out the Blue Devils did, winning 71-69, and leading to questions about where the comeback ranks in college basketball history.
According to NCAA records, the biggest comeback win in Division I was Drexel’s huge rally past Delaware on Feb. 22, 2018. Drexel trailed by 34 points, 53-19, late in the first half but recovered for an 85-83 victory.
Drexel coach Zach Spiker, interviewed by ESPN, said he told his team there was no “30-point shot” and to turn up the tempo, make it a fullcourt game and see what happened. He called the comeback the “perfect storm” -- a good description of Duke’s rally against the Cardinals.
But there are others worth mentioning and Duke has a few others on the list, good and bad:
Duke 94, Maryland 84
March 31, 2001
It was the Duke-Maryland showdown in the Final Four and Gary Williams had the Terrapins ready to play. Maryland led 39-17 with less than seven minutes to play in the first half. The lead melted away as the Blue Devils roared back to win, Shane Battier scoring 25 points, and then claimed the national championship.
Earlier in the season, the Blue Devils rallied from 10 down in the last 54 seconds of regulation at Maryland and then took an overtime win. Duke fans called that the “Miracle Minute.”
Kentucky 99, LSU 95
Feb. 15, 1994
There have been some epic SEC battles through the years and this was one of them. The Wildcats were being throttled 68-37 with 15:34 left in the second half, after an 18-0 LSU run, before making their move and pulling it out.
Charlotte 79, Tennessee 76
Nov. 29, 1995
The Vols, playing at home, were cruising to an easy win in the second half -- or so it seemed. Charlotte, down 53-27 with 15 minutes remaining in regulation, made it a program victory to remember.
UNC 96, Duke 92
March 2, 1974
No one will ever forget this storied comeback by the Tar Heels at Carmichael Auditorium. Just say eight points in 17 seconds -- that’s enough. Duke had the lead with 17 seconds left but some turnovers and a missed free throw, a few UNC baskets and then Walter Davis’ 30-footer at the buzzer and the game went in to overtime, the Tar Heels prevailing.
Duke 85, UNC 84
Feb. 8, 2012
This was the flip side of the 1974 game. UNC led by 10 with two minutes left in regulation at the Smith Center, only to have the Blue Devils start making 3-pointers and then Austin Rivers nail the winning shot at the buzzer. The Devils were dancing after that one.
Duke 74, Tulane 72
Dec. 30, 1950
This was the game that was in the record books until Drexel’s win over Delaware last season. Tulane was rolling along with a 54-22 lead with two minutes left in the opening half before the Blue Devils bounced back in the Dixie Classic game at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.
The Blue Devils were behind 56-27 at halftime and later 72-52 with 11 minutes left in regulation before star guard Dick Groat led the Duke comeback. Groat had 32 points and Duke scored the last 22 points in the game.