Third and Goal: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Third and Goal: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Heading into its regular season finale, Duke will look to snap a four-game losing streak Saturday when they face in-state rival Wake Forest at 12:30 p.m. The Blue Devils have already earned bowl eligibility, but will look to use the win to bolster their standing in the ACC Coastal division. Here are three keys to Duke's final game of the regular season: 

Manage Boehme and Sirk

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe announced earlier this week that he plans to utilize both of his quarterbacks—Thomas Sirk and Parker Boehme—Saturday against the Demon Deacons. Sirk enters the contest nursing an upper body injury that he suffered Nov. 7 against North Carolina, while Boehme has played well whenever he has seen the field. Whether or not the Blue Devils win their season finale could rest on Cutcliffe’s rotation between the true starter and the “hot hand.” 

Although the Demon Deacons show nothing special on the stat sheet, including in the win/loss column, poor quarterback play can doom any team. Cutcliffe will need to make sure he plays the best quarterback given each situation in this weekend's game. If the Blue Devils experience poor play from the game’s most important position, it is not unimaginable to think they could fall to their in-state foe and end the season 6-6. Read more »

XFactor: Duke football vs Wake Forest

XFactor: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Duke is looking to end the regular season on a high note Saturday when it travels to Winston-Salem, N.C. to face Wake Forest at 12:30 p.m. at BB&T Field. The Blue Devils are looking to snap a four game losing streak and end the regular season with a 7-5 record heading into the postseason. Every week throughout the football season, we will break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest:

Duke: wide receiver T.J. Rahming

Rahming stepped up for a thin Duke receiving group when the team needed him to last week against Virginia, hauling in 12 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown in the 42-34 loss. The Blue Devils will face a stout Demon Deacon pass defense that ranks 33rd in the FBS, giving up only 195.5 yards per game through the air. Despite this, Rahming’s short-space quickness could allow him to find holes in the defense, especially on deep routes that could result in big plays. Against Boston College back on Oct. 3, Rahming caught five passes for 75 yards against a secondary that remains one of the best in the nation. 

Rahming has proved he can go up against any defense, but his play also needs to remain mistake-free. Last week vs. the Cavaliers, the Powder Springs, Ga., native had a couple of early false start penalties and a drop on Duke’s final drive that came up just short. If Rahming can have another solid outing, minus the costly mistakes, he could help the Blue Devil offense march down the field against the Wake Forest defense. Read more »

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs Yale

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs Yale

After falling behind by as many as nine in the opening minutes of the game, No. 6 Duke slowly found its footing and fended off a pesky Yale squad in an 80-61 victory. Although the Blue Devils' performance was far from their best, the team made key plays when needed to emerge victorious in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the third time this season. With the win, Duke will head into Thanksgiving on a three-game win streak and with a 5-1 record overall. 

Revisiting the three keys to the game

  • Crash the boards: Duke and Yale finished with the same rebounding totals for the game. As has been the case for most of the season, senior Amile Jefferson was the team's leading rebounder with 12 rebounds and three coming on the offensive glass. The Philadelphia native’s presence on the boards was nicely complemented by Marshall Plumlee’s eight rebounds. Although Duke survived against the Bulldogs with no edge in the rebounding category, it will need to improve if it wishes to consistently defeat ACC opponents with much taller front lines later in the season. 
  • Take care of the ball: The Blue Devils had nine turnovers against Yale, which is pretty close to Duke's season average in the category. Since its disastrous 16-turnover outing against Kentucky, Duke has either reduced or kept its turnover count the same in every game. Point guard Derryck Thornton’s ability to control the ball has paid off for the Blue Devils, as they have not lost since he was inserted into the starting lineup. In closer games, when the result may in fact come down to who wins the turnover battle, a minus-four margin like the one Duke had against the Bulldogs, is certainly enough to get the job done. 
  • Grayson Allen plays like Grayson Allen: It wasn’t quite like the 30-point performances we saw against Georgetown and VCU in the 2K Classic, but Grayson Allen had a strong showing for the Blue Devils. Allen kept Duke even with Yale in the first half by recording 12 of the team’s 38 points and taking advantage at the free-throw line. Although he only finished with 14 points, Allen added five rebounds and five assists to his stats. It was a well-rounded game for the sophomore, who appears to be drawing extra attention from defenses after his fast start to the season. 

Three key plays

  • 0:25 remaining, first half: With the ball in Yale’s hands and only 25 seconds left in the half, it appeared as if the first period would end with either the score tied or a Bulldogs lead, both of which would be quite shocking. But junior Matt Jones made a key defensive play, breaking up a pass and taking it to the other end of the court for a quick two points to give Duke a two-point lead at halftime. 
  • 18:22 remaining, second half: With Yale within striking distance, Jones hits a three pointer on an assist from Allen to bring the Blue Devil lead up to 43-36. With the three, Duke had scored the first seven points of the half, and forced a Bulldogs timeout. The captain’s bucket made it clear that Duke was about to pull away with this game after the visitors stayed in the contest throughout the first half. 
  • 0:01 remaining, second half: After checking in for the last minute of the game, which the Blue Devils were clearly about to win, Nick Pagliuca stole the ball from Yale’s Anthony Daller. It was a true for-the-fans moment, as those Cameron Crazies still on campus for Thanksgiving break got to witness “Pags” get on the stat sheet with a solid play from the reserve, who consistently plays till the whistle blows in his limited action on the court.

Three Key Stats Read more »

Chronicle Postgame: Duke 80, Yale 61

The Chronicle's Ryan Hoerger and Hank Tucker break down a 19-point win for the Blue Devils Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but it wasn't quite as easy as the final score would indicate. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Brandon Ingram hit a 3-pointer and led for most of the first half. Ingram bounced back with 15 points, one of four Blue Devils in double-figures, and Duke's 1-3-1 zone defense paved the way for a much stronger second-half performance.

HALFTIME: Duke 38, Yale 36

After yet another sluggish start, the Blue Devils lead just 38-36 at halftime against Yale and trailed for much of the first half for the fourth straight game.

Duke allowed a layup by Jack Montague on the Bulldogs’ first possession, followed by an easy dunk by reigning Ivy League player of the year Justin Sears after a turnover by senior forward Amile Jefferson. The Bulldogs did not stop there, scoring the first nine points of the game to put the Blue Devils in an early hole.

Brandon Ingram was left out of Duke’s starting lineup for the second straight game, but first entered the contest with 17:36 remaining in the half with the Blue Devils trailing 9-0. He promptly knocked down a triple on his first possession on the floor and played with much more energy throughout the half than he showed last weekend in the 2K Classic. The Kinston, N.C., native scored nine points in the period.

Ingram’s 3-pointer stopped the bleeding, but Duke’s defense continued to be very porous. Another easy dunk—this time from senior Brandon Sherrod—extended Yale’s lead back to nine points, but a freshman again brought the Blue Devils back into the game with a triple. This time it was Luke Kennard, who knocked down a long-range shot from the wing. Read more »

Chronicle Pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Yale

The Chronicle's Ryan Hoerger and Brian Pollack preview Duke's final contest before Thanksgiving Wednesday against Yale at 7 p.m. The Blue Devils return home to Cameron Indoor Stadium after three tough games in six days looking to get Brandon Ingram and Luke Kennard on track. Sophomore Grayson Allen and freshman Derryck Thornton carried the offensive load at Madison Square Garden and will look to keep the hot hand against a Bulldog team bolstered by the return of Brandon Sherrod from his year of absence to sing with the Whiffenpoofs.

Key Three: Duke basketball vs Yale

Key Three: Duke basketball vs Yale

Fresh off wining the 2K Classic championship, Duke heads back home to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a five-game home stand. First up for the Blue Devils will be a matchup against Yale Wednesday at 7 p.m. Here are three keys to a victory against the Bulldogs:

Crash the boards: Four games into the season, Duke only has one player rebounding in double-digits—senior Amile Jefferson. The Philadelphia native is averaging 10.6 boards per contest and his 5.8 offensive rebounds per game is the sixth-best mark in the country. An advantage in the rebound category against Georgetown was key for the Blue Devils in their narrow 84-82 win Sunday, and it will only grow more important moving forward. Duke will look for additional rebounding help from center Marshall Plumlee, who is currently averaging 7.2 boards per game after showing considerable improvement during the off season.

Take care of the ball: Turnovers were an issue for the Blue Devils in their loss to Kentucky at the Champions Classic a week ago. Duke coughed up the ball 16 times—committing seven more giveaways than the Wildcats—in the eventual 74-63 defeat. But the Blue Devils have reduced turnovers in each game since then—a trend that has coincided with coach Mike Krzyzewski shifting freshman point guard Derryck Thornton into the starting lineup. The Chatsworth, Calif., native's ball-handling will be key for Duke moving forward and the team will look to Thornton to continue the trend of reducing turnovers against Yale, a team that averages 13.3 giveaways a game themselves.

Grayson Allen plays like Grayson Allen: After scoring 32 points against the Hoyas, Allen added MVP honors to his long list of accolades. But between his standout performance in the 2014 national championship game and his MVP-winning performance at the 2K Classic, Allen has hit a rough patch against teams with lengthy guards on the perimeter. The Jacksonville, Fla., native was held to just 2-of-11 shooting from the floor against Kentucky, finishing with one assist and four turnovers. In the games following, Allen has rebounded and put forth the two highest-scoring performances of his career, but that leaves one major question—what happened against the Wildcats? Time will tell whether the subpar performance was just a blip on the radar or a sign of underlying problems, but Wednesday provides Allen with another opportunity to showcase his ability to consistently play at an All-American level. Read more »

XFactor: Duke basketball vs Yale

XFactor: Duke basketball vs Yale

After taking home the 2K Classic trophy Sunday against Georgetown in an 86-84 victory, No. 6 Duke will look to extend its NCAA-best 118-game non-conference home win streak Wednesday against Yale. The Blue Devils (4-1) have won their last two games heading into the matchup with the Bulldogs (3-1), who will be looking to bounce-back from a heart-breaking loss to No. 25 Southern Methodist Sunday. The Blue Zone takes a look at one player from each team who could be the difference in the game:

Duke: guard Luke Kennard

Kennard has earned his playing time off the bench, but not for the obvious reasons. The freshman’s hustle and demeanor has kept him on the court, despite his poor shooting start. Last year’s Parade Player of the Year is more than capable of lighting up defenses from three-point range and Duke will need him to begin to provide offensively off the bench going forward. 

The matchup against Yale is the perfect time for Kennard to rediscover his shooting stroke, as he has made only 12-percent of his triples this season. With 7-foot center Marshall Plumlee and 6-foot-9 forward Amile Jefferson in the post, the Bulldogs will try to clog the paint and force the Blue Devils to make long-distance shots. This should give Kennard ample scoring opportunities against a smaller Yale squad, with the only question being whether the freshman can connect when he finds an open look.  Read more »

Week 12: Quick Hits from Lunch with Cut

Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe held his weekly press conference Tuesday, addressing the Blue Devils' recent 42-34 loss to Virginia and the upcoming matchup against Wake Forest. Duke (6-5, 3-4 in the ACC) faces the Demon Deacons, (3-8, 1-6) at BB&T Field Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Here are some of the more notable sound bytes from Cutcliffe’s press conference:

During its four-game losing streak, Duke has struggled to correct its mistakes and play consistently. Offensively, the Blue Devils have struggled to capitalize on opportunities and sustain drives. Against Virginia, offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery’s unit committed three turnovers and struggled to establish its rushing attack, netting just 100 yards on the ground. But the Blue Devils could gain confidence from their performance in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Parker Boehme found a rhythm and led the offense on back-to-back touchdown drives.

Defensively, Duke must try to limit explosive plays. In the last four games, the Blue Devils have surrendered many plays of 15 yards or more thanks to missed tackles, miscommunication and mistakes in coverage. It is important that Duke generates a greater pass rush with their defensive lineman this Saturday against a Demon Deacons squad that has struggled all year. The Blue Devils have only been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks when they blitz thus far this season.

What we haven’t done recently as a team is play the way you play when you win games. We’ve done things that lose game. Not throughout the entire 60 minutes. Not the same group. We’ve always been able to win as a team. Obviously we haven’t trained them to a point to where we can consistently get that.

Although Wake Forest has lost five straight games, the Demon Deacons have demonstrated that they can make big plays and have tested several opponents. Earlier this season, Wake Forest pushed then No. 11 Florida State to the final minutes of the fourth quarter until an interception secured the win for the Seminoles. Read more »