NEW YORK — Mike Krzyzewski is about to become No. 1 at winning at No. 1.
He has to share that milestone for at least one more game with the Wizard of Westwood.
Krzyzewski coached a No. 1-ranked Duke team to victory for the 217th time, matching John Wooden for that career record in the Blue Devils’ 87-52 romp over California on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
Krzyzewski is 217-34 when the Blue Devils hold the top spot, a mark they hit this week in The Associated Press poll. Wooden went 217-11 with UCLA as the top-ranked team.
“I would think most games he (coached) he was No. 1,” Krzyzewski said. “Any time you’re mentioned along anything he did is a pretty big compliment.”
Krzyzewski can set the record Friday night at MSG if the Blue Devils (5-0) knock off Georgetown in the final of the 2K Empire Classic. The Hoyas defeated No. 22 Texas 82-66 in the opener.
The Blue Devils climbed a spot after unranked Evansville pulled off the season’s biggest surprise so far by stunning previous No. 1 Kentucky.
Duke is ranked No. 1 for the 143rd week, extending its own record, and has the top spot in the AP poll for the 20th season under Krzyzewski, also a record.
Vernon Carey led Duke with 31 points and 12 rebounds. Carey scored 21 points in the first half, one point better than the best in his brief career, set a game earlier against Georgia State.
“He’s the focal point of our offense right now,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s making passes, he can put the ball on the floor. He’s playing through contact, has a good touch.”
Jack White and Tre Jones hit consecutive 3s in the first half to help stretch a nine-point lead to 19 at halftime, and the Blue Devils never looked back. Duke fans filled the Garden, the program’s home in the Northeast. The Blue Devils opened the season here with a win over Kansas and they beat Cal for their 37th career win at MSG.
This game could have been played anywhere and the outcome would surely be the same.
The play of the game for Duke came on Alex O’Connell’s driving, one-handed dunk down the lane in the second half that woke up the sleepy crowd. That made it 57-32 and the cheers continued as the dunk was replayed heading into a timeout.
The loudest ovation came for former Duke star and Knicks rookie RJ Barrett, who flashed a gaudy championship ring — the type of jewelry the Knicks haven’t seen around the city in decades.
The Blue Devils are heavy on freshmen again after replacing one batch of one-and-done players with another. Carey, a five-star recruit who inherited Zion Williamson’s No. 1 jersey, made 11 of 18 shots and checked out with Duke holding a 27-point lead.
“We started struggling in the beginning with it and then the coaches told us to get the ball in the middle, and then it will open everything up, so just getting the ball in the middle spaced out a lot of things,” Carey said.
The Golden Bears (4-1) shot only 37% from the floor and failed to have a player score in double digits.
Cal: Coach Mark Fox lost for the first time in his first season at Cal. Fox was hired after a search that lasted less than a week to replace Wyking Jones. During 14 seasons with Nevada and Georgia, Fox went 286-176 with five NCAA Tournament appearances. The Golden Bears were off to their best start since 2015-16 and are already halfway toward last season’s win total.
“This is a great test for us to learn what the best looks like,” Fox said. “They have a great team and a very complete team.”
Duke: The Blue Devils play for another in-season tournament title.
Cal: Plays No. 22 Texas in the consolation game then hosts UC Davis on Tuesday.
Duke: After facing Georgetown Friday in New York, the Blue Devils return home to play Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday.
App State wins in-state matchup with Charlotte
BOONE — O’Showen Williams registered 19 points as Appalachian State beat Charlotte 64-55 on Thursday night.
Adrian Delph had 15 points for Appalachian State (4-3).
Jordan Shepherd scored a career-high 20 points for the 49ers (2-2).
Appalachian State matches up against East Tennessee State on the road on Tuesday. Charlotte takes on Georgia State on the road on Wednesday.
Blount leads NC Central past Bluefield State 68-44
DURHAM — Jibri Blount had 28 points as NC Central easily beat Bluefield State 68-44 on Thursday night.
Randy Miller, Jr. had 18 points for NC Central (2-4). Jordan Perkins added 10 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Kobby Ayetey had nine rebounds and four blocks for the home team.
Marquez Cooper had 13 points for the Big Blues. Taj-Maal Toney added 11 rebounds. Teyon Henry had 10 rebounds.
NC Central plays Southern Illinois on the road on Tuesday.
UNC Asheville makes school-record 19 3s in 105-69 win
ASHEVILLE — DeVon Baker scored 23 points to lead five UNC Asheville starters in double figures, and the Bulldogs made a school-record 19 3s in beating NAIA opponent St. Andrews 105-69 on Thursday night.
Tajion Jones added 16 points, Coty Jude had 14, LJ Thorpe 13 and Lavar Batts Jr. 12 for UNC Asheville (3-2). The Bulldogs were 19 of 50 from distance (38%), with a career-high five makes from Baker and four by Jude.
The Bulldogs were coming off a 79-49 victory in their home opener last Saturday, forcing Brevard into 31 turnovers — the second-highest single-game total in more than a decade for the program.
Myron Williams had 17 points and 11 rebounds for St. Andrews.
The teams met for the first time in more than 50 years last season, a game the Bulldogs won 87-47 for coach Mike Morrell’s first career victory.