Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski couldn’t make it back to the bench for the second half of Tuesday night’s game against Wake Forest, but he still had a message for his team after it nearly blew a 19-point lead.

“He said we needed to play smarter,” forward Wendell Moore Jr. said.

Duke hung on for a 76-74 win thanks to a follow-up dunk by Mark Williams and a long heave from Wake’s Damari Monsanto that barely rimmed out at the buzzer, but the biggest story remained the absence of the 75-year-old coach, who received medical treatment throughout the second half for what the school called an illness.

Krzyzewski was in his usual spot near the end of Duke’s bench for the first half, as the Blue Devils built a 42-33 lead, but Moore said it was obvious the coach “wasn’t himself.” Moore checked in on Krzyzewski’s status several times but was assured there were no issues.

In the locker room at halftime, however, Moore said Krzyzewski experienced dizziness and that the team was informed assistant Jon Scheyer would coach the rest of the way.


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Scheyer, who is set to take over the program upon Krzyzewski’s retirement at season’s end, said he was initially concerned about Krzyzewski’s well-being but quickly turned his attention to getting the team focused on finishing out a win.

“Clearly Coach wasn’t himself, wasn’t right,” Scheyer said. “I told the team he needs to focus on taking care of himself, and they needed to step up and take care of the second half and do what we need to do. It became all about our game plan. Our guys were focused on getting the win for Coach and for our team.”

Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes said he noticed early in the second half that Krzyzewski hadn’t returned to bench and was concerned about his well-being. During the under-16 timeout, he waved down Duke assistant Chris Carraway to inquire about Krzyzewski’s health and was given a thumbs-up.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for that man,” Forbes said. “He’s been really, really good to me and I just hope he’s feeling OK.”

For Scheyer, it was a sneak peek at what life might be like next season. While he has filled in for Krzyzewski before, he noted Tuesday’s game was his first coaching the team at home with fans in the stands.

“This was much better,” he said.

Scheyer said he spoke with Krzyzewski after the game and the coach was feeling better. Duke’s next game comes Saturday against Florida State.

“He needs some rest,” Scheyer said. “But he’s in a much better place, especially since we got that win.”

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