After outlasting Michigan State in a hard-fought battle in the Chicago, the Blue Devils will return home for one of the lighter weekends on their schedule, starting with a matchup against Southern Friday evening.

No. 1 Duke will host the Jaguars at 7 p.m. against Cameron Indoor Stadium and should not have much trouble against a team ranked No. 330 out of 351 teams in the nation, according to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency ratings. Southern’s lack of size has held it back to start the year, with three losses by an average margin of 28 points. 

The Jaguars have also struggled to rebound, which will only benefit the Blue Devil frontcourt that brought down 25 offensive rebounds against the Spartans. Freshman Wendell Carter Jr. took on a bigger post presence after freshman Marvin Bagley III left the game early due to an eye injury, and his work on the boards has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

“[Wendell] is a beast down low,” senior Grayson Allen said after the Utah Valley game last Saturday. “He does a great job of rebounding in his area, even outside of his area and going to get some, but he’s really patient on offense too, and I think one of the things that he’s showing is he can really pass the ball and find the open guy.”

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski should feel more comfortable trying new rotations and going deep into his bench Friday. Allen and freshman Trevon Duval have done most of the scoring in the backcourt so far, controlling the game late against Michigan State and combining for 35 points in the second half. But the Blue Devils (3-0) need to find more scoring on their bench, which has only scored 41 points in Duke’s three games. 

Freshmen Alex O’Connell and Jordan Goldwire have earned the most minutes so far off the bench in the backcourt. O’Connell hit both of his 3-point attempts in the opener against Elon, and Goldwire has played consistent defense in his minutes. Jordan Tucker has only played six minutes so far, but has the potential to become a scoring option for the Blue Devils and may get a chance to put his talents on display against Southern.

Freshman Gary Trent Jr. is another player who will look to find his shot consistently. The five-star starting guard shot 1-of-7 from beyond the arc Tuesday, though he did make one of the biggest shots of the night to put Duke in front for good.

Blue Devil fans hope to find relief in the return of 6-foot-11 superstar Bagley, who was sidelined after teammate Javin DeLaurier accidentally raked his eye in a rebounding battle, but was cleared to play Thursday, according to Krzyzewski’s radio show. Bagley, who has already notched two double-doubles, provides an efficient scoring option and a defensive stopper to an already loaded Duke squad.

“He is really an exceptional kid. You could have somebody, or somebodies, on a team feeling like, ‘Oh, he’s going to take my place,’ and then when they saw him play, they said, ‘Well, that’s not my place,’” Krzyzewski said after the Utah Valley game. “And then he is a good guy and he works his butt off. He is a dream really to coach.”

The Blue Devils have not shown much weakness thus far, but only shot 39.5 percent from the field against Michigan State and may not always be able to rely on their rebounding to save them. Friday’s game against Southern (0-3) is a chance to further develop their chemistry for a more efficient offense.

“We have to play together and keep continuing to play as one and not worry about any individual stuff,” Bagley said. “If we put everybody’s talents together as one, then we’ll be a great team, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Mitchell Gladstone and Hank Tucker contributed reporting.