Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

The Blue Devils blew a 12-point lead in a stunning 84-82 home loss to N.C. State, struggling to handle freshman phenom Dennis Smith Jr. Duke has now lost three of its last four games and has to play its next two games on the road, beginning with a matchup at Wake Forest Saturday.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Contain Dennis Smith Jr.: The Wolfpack's star point guard had a dominant game on one of the biggest stages of his career, pouring in 32 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He singlehandedly kept his team in the game in the first half and created all sorts of headaches for the Blue Devils in the pick-and-roll, dishing out six assists to help N.C. State get plenty of easy points down low.
  • Get 3-point shooting back on track: Duke shot just 8-of-28 from beyond the arc and 2-of-14 , missing several chances to kill the Wolfpack's momentum and put them away. Junior Grayson Allen shot just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc, Jayson Tatum shot 1-of-4 and Matt Jones was 3-of-8 on a cold day from the perimeter for the Blue Devils.
  • Play hard for 40 minutes: For the fifth contest in a row, Duke failed to put together 40 minutes of energy and effort on defense. Although the Blue Devils started out hot and still led by nine with less than seven minutes left, they could not keep their foot on the gas and finish the game.

Three key stats:

  • N.C. State throws down six dunks: Duke was slow to rotate against the pick-and-roll all game, as Abdul-Malik Abu feasted on the inside with four easy slams on his way to 18 points. Two of his dunks came in the last four minutes, with the last one giving the Wolfpack the lead for good at 74-73 with 2:37 to go.
  • Ted Kapita posts a double-double in 19 minutes: Kapita—a 6-foot-8 freshman forward—did not even play in N.C. State's previous two games leading up to Monday, but he helped key the Wolfpack's victory with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double before fouling out with 5:17 remaining.
  • Amile Jefferson finishes with just five points and five rebounds: N.C. State neutralized the Blue Devils' graduate student captain in the frontcourt, making Jefferson a non-factor after he hauled in 12 rebounds Saturday against Miami. The Philadelphia native did not top five rebounds for just the third time this season, though he is still clinging to a double-double average on the year.

Three key plays: Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

Duke lost to N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time since 1995 in an 84-82 stunner, with Wolfpack point guard Dennis Smith Jr. pouring in 32 points in a dominant performance. The Chronicle's Sameer Pandhare and Drew Johnson broke down what all went wrong for the Blue Devils.

0:34—How Dennis Smith Jr. kept his team in it in the first half before getting some help from his teammates for N.C. State's final push

1:26—A discussion of Duke's poor shooting and lack of ball movement down the stretch

2:18—What happened on the Blue Devils' last possession of the game with a chance to tie or win the game Read more »

Halftime: Duke 44, N.C. State 38

After an emotional come-from-behind win Saturday, the Blue Devils have stayed hot through 20 minutes of action against N.C. State.

Behind a strong offensive showing, No. 17 Duke leads the Wolfpack 44-38 at halftime here at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Points have come in bunches as the Blue Devils shot 6-of-13 from beyond the arc after struggling from deep in their last few contests.

Interim head coach Jeff Capel opened the game with the five players that were responsible for turning around Saturday’s contest against Miami—opting to leave junior Grayson Allen and sophomore Luke Kennard on the bench to begin the game.

But the starting group was unable to find the same type of magic it had against the Hurricanes and both teams were evenly matched through the first 10 minutes. Read more »

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 11

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 11

Two top-10 teams fell to unranked opponents and Duke got back on track in a tumultuous week in the top-25.

Unlucky No. 7

West Virginia and Creighton shared the No. 7 spot in last week’s AP Poll, but both fell in the latest rankings after being upset by unranked teams.

The Mountaineers lost 89-87 in overtime at home against an 8-10 Oklahoma team Wednesday and fell to Kansas State 79-75 Saturday, tumbling to No. 18 in the rankings. The Wildcats improved to 15-4 with all five starters scoring at least 13 points but remain on the outside looking in at the rankings. Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

The Blue Devils face a quick turnaround with a Monday night contest against N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Stadium just two days after they beat Miami 70-58. The Wolfpack have had a disappointing season thus far, but still have the talent to challenge Duke. Here are three keys to Monday's game for the Blue Devils:

Contain Dennis Smith Jr.

N.C. State has been one of the ACC's weakest teams this year, but it has one player who will garner plenty of attention as interim head coach Jeff Capel makes his gameplan for Monday night—Dennis Smith Jr. The freshman—who leads his team in both points and assists this season—was the No. 4 recruit and top guard in the Class of 2016, and he has not disappointed for the Wolfpack. The Fayetteville, N.C., native is a complete player—he is one of only 17 players in the nation with a triple-double this season and is the only player in the top five in the conference in both points per game and assists.

In their most recent game against Miami, Duke’s guards stepped up down the stretch and halted the Hurricane backcourt's early offensive success, and they will need to do the same against Smith Jr. Do not be surprised if the Blue Devils rely on the duo of senior Matt Jones and freshman Frank Jackson—who combined for five steals against Miami—to lock down the versatile guard as he attempts to lead his team to a road upset.

Get 3-point shooting back on track

Jones sparked Duke Saturday night by going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, but aside from the senior co-captain’s performance, the Blue Devils were a dismal 2-of-11 from long range, far from the team’s 36.5 percent clip this season. Duke—which has historically prided itself on efficient 3-point shooting—has really struggled this year and ranks just 12th in the conference from deep, a number that needs to improve if the team expects to keep up offensively with other powerhouse programs in the ACC.  Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

A big second-half surge propelled Duke past Miami Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak, but the Blue Devils do not have much time to rest before hosting N.C. State Monday night at 7. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game.

Duke: Center Marques Bolden

After piecing together his best game of the season against Miami, Bolden could be the difference for Duke defensively moving forward. With most of the Wolfpack offense likely to come from point guard Dennis Smith Jr. running the pick-and-roll, having Bolden play like he did against the Hurricanes would help the Blue Devils immensely.

By successfully hedging on screens and protecting the rim effectively, Bolden was one of the catalysts for Duke's comeback Saturday. Not only does the freshman from DeSoto, Texas, offer the Blue Devils interior protection, Bolden’s skills on the glass could result in additional possessions to keep the ball out of the hands of a high-powered Wolfpack offense. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Sameer Pandhare broke down what Duke needs to do with a quick turnaround ahead of its game Monday night against N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils used a 20-0 second-half run to rally past Miami Saturday.

0:34—Whether Duke's lineup change to start the second half against the Hurricanes could signal a more lasting rotation change moving forward

2:18—What the Blue Devils need to do to stop freshman phenom Dennis Smith Jr. and the Wolfpack's pick-and-roll

3:43—Which other weapons Duke needs to look out for defensively besides Smith Jr. Read more »

Around the ACC: Week 11

Around the ACC: Week 11

With a gritty second-half performance against Miami Saturday, Duke moved back to .500 in conference play. The Blue Zone takes a look at how the rest of the ACC fared this week.

No. 9 North Carolina (18-3, 6-1)

Following a statement win last weekend at home against Florida State, the Tar Heels stayed hot with an easy 85-68 victory against Syracuse. In head coach Roy Williams' 800th win, North Carolina pulled away late after the Orange got within three early in the second half, as Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson combined to score 54 points. Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Boston College gave North Carolina all it could handle for 38 minutes, but a Joel Berry II 3-pointer with 1:14 to play was the dagger in the Tar Heels' 90-82 triumph.

No. 15 Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1) Read more »

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Duke scored 20 straight points early in the second half to rally from a double-digit deficit and beat Miami 70-58 Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Four Blue Devils scored in double figures to spark an offense that scored 46 points after the break following a dismal first half.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Interior Defense: Graduate student Amile Jefferson made his return tonight after missing the previous two games due to a right-foot bone bruise and provided a vital boost to Duke’s interior defense. The Blue Devils only allowed 28 points in the paint after being gashed inside recently. Freshman Marques Bolden, who had been largely relegated to the bench this season, had his best performance of the year with eight points and four rebounds and finally looked like the player Blue Devil fans expected after signing as the top-ranked center in the country.
  • Knock Shots Down from the Outside: After Duke went 0-for-7 from the 3-point line on its way to scoring just 25 points in an abysmal first half, the Blue Devils stepped things up after the break. Senior Matt Jones was the catalyst, knocking down three of Duke’s five triples in the second half, and Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum each made a 3-pointer to help the Blue Devils pull away.
  • Pass the Ball: Duke continued its struggles finding open teammates for baskets, only recording nine assists against the Hurricanes. In the first half, this hamstrung its offense, as the Blue Devils were repeatedly forced to toss up tough shots. The second half was a different story though, as the main reason for the lack of assists was that Duke was able to rack up so many transition baskets. This will continue to be a key area for the Blue Devils, though, as isolation basketball is unlikely to work consistently in the ACC.

Three key stats:

  • Duke scores 31 points off turnovers: Defense fueled the Blue Devils' offense in their 31-4 run to start the second half, as Duke forced 12 second-half giveaways and sped the game to get the Hurricanes out of a rhythm on offense. Jefferson, Jones, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson each had more than two steals to set the tone for one of the Blue Devils' best defensive performances of the year.
  • Marques Bolden plays 23 minutes: Interim head coach Jeff Capel benched top recruit Harry Giles—who played just eight minutes—and elected to leave Bolden during the game-changing run in the second half with a defensive-minded lineup. Bolden hedged aggressively on screens all night to shut down Miami's pick-and-roll, which Duke struggled to defend against Florida State and Louisville last week.
  • The Hurricanes finish with zero bench points: Miami's bench was nonexistent, combining to shoot 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line in more than 36 minutes on the floor. When the Hurricanes needed to stop the bleeding in the second half, head coach Jim Larrañaga did not have any options to look to on his bench.

Three key plays: Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Drew Johnson broke down Duke's first victory in more than two weeks from Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the No. 18 Blue Devils used a 20-0 second-half run to rally past Miami 70-58.

0:20—How Matt Jones sparked Duke's decisive run

0:48—What Duke did on defense to help kickstart its offense after the break

1:33—The difference interim head coach Jeff Capel's lineup change made to start the second half Read more »