Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 15

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 15

With just two more weeks remaining in the regular season, many of the nation's best are still jostling for postseason seeding. What's changed in the top 25 after a less tumultuous week in the college basketball world?

Knock, knock, Hoos there?

No. 14 Virginia entered the week with the best defense in the country, but faced a gauntlet down the stretch after suffering a road defeat last weekend at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers failed to respond, dropping a pair of primetime matchups—first at home to No. 12 Duke and then in Chapel Hill against No. 10 North Carolina. Tony Bennett's team sputtered to a 48.0 point per game average in the two contests, falling four spots to No. 18. 

The Blue Devils jumped back into the top 10 at No. 10 and the Tar Heels also shifted up to No. 8, and the two Tobacco Road rivals will face off for the second time March 4 in Chapel Hill to close out the regular season. Read more »

Around the ACC: Week 15

Around the ACC: Week 15

After two more wins, the Blue Devils are now in good position for a double-bye in the ACC tournament with two weeks to go in the regular season.

No. 10 North Carolina (23-5, 11-3)

The Tar Heels had an impressive week with 24-point victories against N.C. State and Virginia to remain alone atop the conference standings. North Carolina shot 56.0 percent from the field with five players in double figures and won the battle of the boards 41-25 against the Wolfpack, then rode 20 points from junior Justin Jackson and an exceptional defensive effort to a 65-41 victory against the Cavaliers, the fewest points the Tar Heels have allowed to any opponent in head coach Roy Williams' 14-year tenure. 

With three games against ranked opponents left on the schedule, the Tar Heels still have their work cut out for them to hold onto to the top seed by the time the ACC tournament rolls around. Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Wake Forest

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Wake Forest

Following Duke 99-94 victory against Wake Forest in a high-powered shootout, The Chronicle's Mitchell Gladstone and Sid Bhaskara broke down what made the difference in the Blue Devils' seventh straight win.

0:38—How the Demon Deacons fed John Collins repeatedly and got whatever they wanted on offense

1:27—What made Duke's shooters locked in on the perimeter to the tune of 13 3-pointers

2:06—How the Blue Devils managed their frontcourt rotation of Amile Jefferson, Marques Bolden and Harry Giles Read more »

Jeff Capel Jr. joins Blue Devils for Duke-Wake Forest amid ongoing battle with ALS

Jeff Capel Jr. joins Blue Devils for Duke-Wake Forest amid ongoing battle with ALS

A number of familiar faces were sitting behind the Duke bench Saturday—2015 national champions Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones as well as former forward Mason Plumlee.

But it was a more unexpected guest appearance on the Duke sideline that might have been the most meaningful to the Blue Devil program.

Jeff Capel Jr., father of Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel III, joined the Blue Devils for their game against Wake Forest as he fights his battle against ALS. The younger Capel penned a piece for the Players' Tribune in late January, discussing the impact that his father's diagnosis has had on him and his family during the past 10 months.

ALS is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and eventually leads to the inability to initiate and control muscle movement. There is currently no cure for ALS and the condition often leads to death within two to five years of diagnosis.  Read more »

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Wake Forest

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Wake Forest

After pulling out a gritty road win at Virginia Wednesday, the Blue Devils prevailed in a high-scoring affair against Wake Forest Saturday. Duke came away with a 99-94 victory to extend its winning streak to seven and move to 10-4 in conference play to keep pace close to the top of the ACC standings.

Revisiting the three keys to the game

  • Get Grayson going again: Junior Grayson Allen took on more of a facilitator role once again and finished with 11 points and six assists. Although the guard’s statline seemed pedestrian, Allen’s penetration set up multiple open looks down low and on the perimeter in the second half. The Jacksonville, Fla., native also appeared to have more rhythm with his jump shot and finished 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
  • Establish the inside game: The Blue Devils’ ability to connect from beyond the arc limited their need to look for points down low. Graduate student Amile Jefferson had one of his best games since returning from his right-foot bone bruise to finish with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Freshman Marques Bolden provided a nice lift off the bench with six points—his highest scoring output since Jan. 21 against Miami.
  • Maintain the defensive intensity: Neither team showed much of an inclination to defend Saturday afternoon. After giving up 83 points to the Demon Deacons in the first matchup, the Blue Devils struggled to contain Wake Forest once again. Despite connecting on just five 3-pointers, the Demon Deacons kept pace with Duke by attacking the hoop at will and taking care of the basketball with just four turnovers. Wake Forest shot 50.7 percent from the field, and its 94 points were the most the Blue Devils have allowed in more than a year.

Three key stats

  • 7: The Demon Deacons were aggressive attacking the hoop from the get-go and finished with seven more free-throw attempts than Duke. The Blue Devils have done a better job of defending without fouling during their seven-game winning streak, but reverted to some of their old bad habits Saturday.
  • 0: The bench duo of Bolden and freshman Harry Giles did not see the floor in the second half, as Duke relied on graduate student Amile Jefferson to close the game. Giles picked up three first-half fouls and finished with just four minutes on the floor after playing much of the second half against Virginia.
  • 59.0: One positive from the afternoon was the Blue Devil offense, which finished with a 59.0 percent mark from the floor. Duke assisted on 19 of its 36 baskets and moved the ball well to generate open looks across the court, leading to 13 made 3-pointers.

Three key plays Read more »

Halftime: Duke 47, Wake Forest 47

In their last game, the Blue Devils struggled to reach 20 points in the first half against the nation's best scoring defense.

They easily more than doubled that output Saturday afternoon in the opening period, but still find themselves in another dogfight.

No. 12 Duke is tied with Wake Forest 47-47 at the break at Cameron Indoor Stadium, with both teams starting the game hot from the field and never relenting thanks to subpar defense on both ends of the court. So far the Blue Devils have struggled to contain Wake Forest on the interior, as Demon Deacon star forward John Collins leads all scorers with 16 points through the first half of play. 

Duke got a balanced scoring effort highlighted by rookie Jayson Tatum's 10 points in a back-and-forth half featuring 14 lead changes and seven ties. The Blue Devils are shooting 62.1 percent from the field and 7-of-14 from long range but still are tied because of their inability to stop Wake Forest.  Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Wake Forest

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Wake Forest

Before the Blue Devils aim for a seventh straight win Saturday afternoon against Wake Forest, The Chronicle's Mitchell Gladstone and Sid Bhaskara get you ready for the matchup by discussing where Duke is improving with the postseason just around the corner. 

0:30—How the Blue Devil defense has improved drastically since Duke and Wake Forest met Jan. 28

1:30—Why the Blue Devils will need to lock in defensively against forward John Collins and the Demon Deacon shooters Read more »

Key three: Duke vs. Wake Forest

Key three: Duke vs. Wake Forest

The Blue Devils will look to stay hot Saturday at 1 at Cameron Indoor Stadium against a Wake Forest team that still lacks a signature win. After Jayson Tatum carried Duke to a win Wednesday and Luke Kennard willed the Blue Devils past Clemson last Saturday, Duke will be looking for a more well-rounded offensive performance against the Demon Deacons. Here are three keys to the game for the Blue Devils:

Get Grayson going again

Grayson Allen seemed to get back in his shooting rhythm against North Carolina, when he shot 7-for-12 from beyond the arc, but Allen’s midseason struggles have returned in his last two contests. After scoring 20 or more points in three straight games, Allen has scored a combined 13 points on 20.0 percent shooting from the field during that span. With Tatum heating up and the ACC tournament approaching, if Allen can get back to last season’s form, Duke will be a force to be reckoned with come March.

Establish the inside game

After a dominant start to the season as a double-double machine, Amile Jefferson has been much quieter since he returned from a foot injury in January. During that span. Jefferson has scored more than six points just once in eight games and has pretty much been eliminated as a factor inside. For a team that is reliant on the three-ball, spacing is crucial and drawing defenders into the post will create openings on the perimeter. The Blue Devils will be helped if Jefferson and freshman Harry Giles can establish themselves as offensive threats and convert inside on a consistent basis moving forward.

Maintain the defensive intensity

Read more »