Mike Krzyzewski earned his 1,000th career win Sunday, making him the first NCAA Division I men's coach to reach the milestone, when No. 5 Duke surged past St. John's in the second half for a 77-68 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Tyus Jones scored 22 points and the Blue Devils (17-2) went on an 18-2 run down the stretch to put Coach K in four figures on his first try.
"I'm not sure I've ever been a part of a game like that. That's kind of nuts, huh?" Krzyzewski said. "It just seemed like three different games."
Jahlil Okafor had 17 points and 10 rebounds, combining with Jones and Quinn Cook (17 points) to fuel the decisive spurt after Duke trailed by 10 with 8:15 remaining.
That's when the Blue Devils finally began to look like a Krzyzewski-coached team, picking up their defence and hustling to loose balls as he urged them on from one knee in front of the bench. Duke outworked the Red Storm on the glass and held them without a field goal for 6 pivotal minutes.
"It just, boom! It was great," Krzyzewski said. "It was beautiful, really, to see them fight today and win."
When the final horn sounded, Blue Devils players engulfed Krzyzewski and he received a bear hug from assistant Jeff Capel. Photographers swarmed the coach on the court, and players were given T-shirts that read "1,000 Wins And Kounting."
A public address announcement offered congratulations to Krzyzewski, and Duke fans at a packed Garden chanted his name and held aloft "K'' signs.
"I'm glad it's over," Krzyzewski said in the postgame interview room with family nearby — including two of his three daughters and seven of his nine grandchildren.
"There will be others that win more, but it is kind of neat to be the first one to 1,000," he added. "I am proud of that, too: It's not just the number of wins, but the quality of opponents we've had."
Sir'Dominic Pointer had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the feisty Red Storm (13-6), who were looking for a huge win to put on their NCAA tournament resume. They were in position to get it, but got worn down late by Duke and let this one slip away.
"I thought we just missed some easy looks," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said. "We came up short today, but I think you can also see the sneak preview of a team that could be very dangerous here if we continue to make progress."
No. 1,000 came about 500 miles from the cramped and cozy confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium, but Coach K was hardly on unfamiliar soil.
Madison Square Garden, after all, was where he notched victory No. 903 against Michigan State in November 2011, breaking the Division I record previously held by his college coach and mentor, Bob Knight.
"To win the 1,000th here, you need to be a lucky guy. I like my place, Cameron, but this is a magical place," Krzyzewski said.
The 67-year-old Krzyzewski improved to 1,000-308 in a 40-year coaching career that began in 1975 at his alma mater, Army. He is 927-249 in 35 seasons at Duke, guiding the Blue Devils to four NCAA titles and 11 trips to the Final Four.
"It's special. But it's for all the players who have played for him who got these wins. It's not just us," Cook said. "That's why we wanted to come out and get it done."
The lively crowd of 19,812, mixed with fans of both schools, included about 15-20 former Duke players as well as Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson from the New York Knicks; St. John's greats Chris Mullin, Lou Carnesecca and Felipe Lopez; and Nike boss Phil Knight.
Around 30 minutes before the opening tip, rising ticket prices ranged from $225 to $888 on stubhub.com — which also covered admission to the Iona-Niagara doubleheader finale at "The World's Most Famous Arena."
Midway through an entertaining first half, Krzyzewski was on his feet as St. John's erased an 11-point deficit.
Wearing a blue suit and white sneakers to support Coaches vs. Cancer, Krzyzewski stalked after the officials at the end of the half to argue that D'Angelo Harrison's buzzer-beating 3-pointer came after the shot clock expired.
Coach K didn't get the call, and the Red Storm went into the locker room leading 43-39.
"At halftime I sent a text out to destroy all the books on leadership, because it wasn't working," Krzyzewski joked.
Duke: The Blue Devils are 26-8 at Madison Square Garden under Krzyzewski, including 18 wins in their last 21 games. ... Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is second on the Division I men's list with 962 wins. Ex-Tennessee coach Pat Summitt holds the women's Division I record with 1,098 victories. ... Duke's decisive 18-2 spurt began with consecutive three-point plays by Cook, Jones and Okafor, who hit a layup following three offensive rebounds by the Blue Devils on one possession. "We were so gritty in the last 10 minutes," Krzyzewski said. "It was tough to get involved with 1,000. I was just trying to survive this game, which is how you get to 1,000."
St. John's: Rysheed Jordan scored 18 points, and Phil Greene IV added 13. Harrison, the team's leading scorer at 19.5 points per game, was held to 12 on 5-of-14 shooting — his third straight subpar performance as he plays through a strained calf. ... The Red Storm won the previous meeting at Madison Square Garden, 93-78 over No. 3 Duke on Jan. 30, 2011.
Duke: Two tough road tests in the ACC — at No. 8 Notre Dame on Wednesday night, followed by a trip to No. 2 Virginia on Saturday. Krzyzewski needs two ACC wins to pass old rival and North Carolina great Dean Smith for the most in league history.
St. John's: A visit to Big East foe Creighton on Wednesday night.