Duke basketball extends remarkable streak, puts pressure on Kentucky

Duke basketball (USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (USA TODAY Sports) /

Nine decades have passed since a Duke basketball squad fell shy of 10 wins.

Pick a Duke basketball low point this season. The discouraging Jan. 19 loss at Pitt. The demoralizing Feb. 1 loss at Miami. The depressing Feb. 9 loss at home to Notre Dame.

At any of those junctures, from a fan’s perspective, a 10-win season by the young bunch sure seemed to be in serious jeopardy.

Fast forward to the present day.

Riding a three-game win streak, including the 66-65 home defeat of the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers (15-5, 11-3 ACC) on Saturday night, the Blue Devils (10-8, 8-6 ACC) have avoided going down in history as the group that snapped what is now the program’s 93-season streak of winning at least 10 games.

Duke basketball holding the active mark, sort of

The streak dates back to the 1928-29 Duke basketball team, which finished 12-8 under first-year Blue Devil head coach Eddie Cameron, who went on to become the namesake of Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Meanwhile, it is true that Kentucky’s stretch of 10-win campaigns began in 1927-28, and the Wildcats haven’t come up short of 10 wins in any season they have played since.

That said, Kentucky did not play at all in the 1952-53 season. Plus, the 2020-21 Wildcats currently sit 8-13 (7-7 SEC) with only three games remaining on their regular-season slate. In other words, without a strong finish from the bluebloods in Lexington, the streak from the bluebloods in Durham will be alone in the top spot no matter how you look at it.

The last time Duke’s impressive run of 10-win seasons saw a significant chance of coming to an end was back in the early 1980s; between the second and third seasons under Mike Krzyzewski (1981-82, 1982-83), his guys combined for only 21 wins.

The infamous 1994-95 Blue Devils, who wound up 13-18 overall, notched their 10th victory in late January. Some other truly close calls by the program over the years were its 10-16 clip in 1973-74 and 10-12 clip in 1938-39.

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