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 »

Duke in the NBA: Okafor dominates showdown with Towns; Winslow continues strong start

With the NBA season under way, a handful of former Blue Devils are off to strong starts in the association. The Blue Zone takes a look at how some of Duke's finest have faired in the early going. 

Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia 76ers

The NBA’s leading rookie of the year has continued on his torrid early season pace, despite his team’s 0-14 record. Okafor has recorded double-digit points in every contest except one and he has tallied a double-double in three out of his last five games. Although he has come back to Earth in terms of rebounding and field goal percentage, his 17.9 points per game still leads all rookies by nearly a full two points.

Of interest for Duke fans should be Okafor’s mini reunion tour. After falling to former teammate Justise Winslow’s Miami Heat Saturday night, Okafor traveled to Minnesota—home to former teammate Tyus Jones—for a showdown with No. 1 overall pick Karl Anthony-Towns. The former Blue Devil showed teams why he may have been deserving of the top selection in the draft as he dominated Towns in the stat-sheet and finished with 25 points on 5-of-10 shooting along with 12 rebounds.  Read more »

Stock Watch: Duke women's soccer rolls into Elite Eight

The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has just rung again, meaning it's time to take another look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week the Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.

Trending Up

Duke women’s soccer: The third-seeded Blue Devils took down No. 2 seed Florida 2-1 on the road Sunday to advance to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight. Junior Rebecca Quinn and freshman Taylor Racioppi both scored to help Duke rally from an early one-goal deficit. After missing the tournament with a down year last year, the Blue Devils have rebounded well with their sixth Elite Eight appearance in the last 10 years. They will now look to pull off another upset at Stanford Friday night before they would have an opportunity to play close to home at the Final Four in Cary, N.C.

Grayson Allen’s All-American odds: The sophomore guard looked unprepared to serve as the Blue Devils' leader last Tuesday against Kentucky, but he played like one of the best guards in the nation on his way to being named MVP of the 2K Classic during the weekend. Allen posted the first two 30-point games of his career in close victories against VCU and Georgetown at Madison Square Garden, keeping Duke in both contests during slow first-half starts for the rest of the team. The Jacksonville, Fla., native showed off the vast array of weapons in his offensive repertoire, hitting 9-of-14 shots from long distance in the two games, knocking down a few pull-up midrange jumpers and finishing in the paint with several floaters and tough layups. Allen was also 17-of-18 on free throws to improve to 89.7 percent from the line this season. Read more »

SPORTSWRAP: Feeling 32

This week's edition of Sportswrap features Duke sophomores Grayson Allen and Azurá Stevens, who posted matching career-highs of 32 points Sunday in a pair of Blue Devil victories. Sportswrap is your one-stop-shop for the weekend that was in Duke athletics.

Duke men's basketball holds off Georgetown to capture 2K Classic title: Behind another monster performance from tournament MVP Grayson Allen, Duke defeated Georgetown 86-84 in the title game of the 2K Classic Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Duke has its star, and it's Grayson Allen: The sophomore's 62-point weekend and the emergence of Derryck Thornton as another scoring option in the backcourt gives Duke reason for optimism moving forward.

Read more »

Cutcliffe laments repeated mistakes in loss to Cavaliers

Cutcliffe laments repeated mistakes in loss to Cavaliers

A day after Duke suffered its fourth straight defeat—a 42-34 loss to Virginia—head coach David Cutcliffe acknowledged that his squad is confronting the same problems week to week and must correct its mistakes.

The Blue Devils once again struggled out of the gates against the Cavaliers, going down 21-0 in the first quarter. A late fourth-quarter comeback came up short when Duke turned the ball over on downs in the red zone with eight seconds remaining.

“It didn’t take film to see our breakdowns. Giving them two short fields, putting ourselves down 21-0 nothing in a hurry…we’re just doing too many things that winning teams don’t do,” Cutcliffe told reporters on a Sunday conference call. “Combinations of those things have cost us and given us headaches in trying to win the last few ballgames we’ve played. We just have some real things that have to be corrected. If you correct a few things even, the outcome of a game can different.”

The defense again failed to prevent explosive plays. The Cavaliers capitalized on Duke’s lack of a pass rush, poor tackling and coverage miscues with six plays of 20 yards or more. Virginia quarterback Matt Johns threw for a career-high 344 yards and two touchdowns, and Taquan "Smoke" Mizzell led a rushing attack that contributed 143 yards. Read more »

Beyond the Arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Georgetown

Beyond the Arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Georgetown

Duke rounded out its trip to the Big Apple with an 86-84 win against Georgetown in the title game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. After trailing for most of the first half, veterans Matt Jones and Grayson Allen took control of the game early in the second period, with Allen scoring a career-high 32 points. Freshman Derryck Thornton followed up his breakout performance against Virginia Commonwealth with 14 points of his own.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

Defend the 3-point line: After struggling to contain the Hoyas' shooting in the first half, the Blue Devils switched to a 1-3-1 zone at times after intermission, with Amile Jefferson manning the top of the key. The wrinkle was effective in limiting Georgetown's long-range attempts, as sharp-shooter Isaac Copeland went scoreless in the second half until two late 3-pointers during desperation time. Freshman Kaleb Johnson hit a couple of late treys as well as the Hoyas mounted a comeback in the game's waning moments of the game.

Avoid foul trouble: The final minutes of the game could have been disastrous for the Blue Devils, as veteran big men Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson both fouled out with a minute to play. This allowed the pesky Hoyas to hang around at the end of the game. The veterans have to be smarter moving forward as Luke Kennard and Brandon Ingram were left on the court as the Hoyas made foul shots and almost won the game in the final minute. Read more »