For a January game against an opponent still seeking its first win in ACC play, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was unusually emotional Thursday night.
Krzyzewski actually ran onto the floor, jumped into Mason Plumlee's arms and wrapped him in an awkward bear hug during a second-half timeout after the senior forward backed down his defender and spun around him for a two-handed slam to put Duke up 10. It was a moment straight out of a cheesy romantic comedy, and it drew some chuckles from everyone from fans, to TV announcers to even the Blue Devils players.
"I'm running at him, and he runs right by me and goes and gives Mason a big hug," a chuckling Amile Jefferson told the Raleigh News & Observer. "I'm going crazy, it's unbelievable to see coach still have that passion. If you can't get up when he does that or when he's hollering and screaming, I don't know what kind of player you are."
Why was Krzyzewski do enthusiastic about a fairly innocuous bucket? Perhaps because it came in the midst of Duke's best stretch of basketball of the night to that point.
A Blue Devils team still without starting forward Ryan Kelly actually trailed Georgia Tech at home by a point entering halftime. Fueled by a double-double from Plumlee and torrid shooting from Seth Curry and previously slumping Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke unleashed a 19-3 run to start the second half to turn a tight game into a rout.
Plumlee, who finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, admitted the bear hug from his coach energized him for the rest of the second half.
"That got me going there, for sure" Plumlee told the News & Observer. "It's pretty cool when you have a coach that will do that for you, especially at 65."