Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 16

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 16

Duke's return to the top 10 lasted just one week, as the Blue Devils dropped two straight games on the road to go tumbling back down the rankings.

Roy Williams Stays the King

It was a great week to be a Tar Heel. No. 8 North Carolina clinched the top seed in the ACC tournament and at least a share of the ACC regular-season championship for the eighth time in 14 years by beating No. 7 Louisville 74-63 and blowing out Pittsburgh on the road 85-67. UNC was helped by Duke dropping two straight games on the road to Syracuse and Miami. The game against the Orange was a heartbreaker for the Blue Devils, as John Gillion banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a 78-75 win. Duke's offense fell silent against the Hurricanes as well with Grayson Allen sidelined with a left ankle injury, only mustering 50 points in a five-point loss.

The rough week sent Duke down to No. 17 in the new poll, but North Carolina rose to No. 5 and looks well positioned to seize a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament if it keeps winning. Read more »

Around the ACC: Week 16

Around the ACC: Week 16

Two rough outings for Duke knocked the Blue Devils out of position for an ACC tournament double bye heading into the final week of the regular season.

No. 8 North Carolina (25-5, 13-3)

The Tar Heels clinched the top seed in the ACC tournament with key wins against No. 7 Louisville and Pittsburgh this week. Justin Jackson once again led North Carolina in scoring, dropping 21 against the Cardinals in a 74-63 win and 23 in an 85-67 win against Panthers. Jackson leads the team in scoring this season at 18.8 points per game and has hit at least two 3-pointers in 15 straight contests.

The Tar Heels are now in full control of the ACC standings with marquee matchups against Virginia and Duke looming this week to wrap up their regular season. Read more »

Duke women's basketball player of the week: Week 16

Duke women's basketball player of the week: Week 16

Rebecca Greenwell

The statline:

Sunday vs. North Carolina: 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 6-of-10 3-point shooting, four rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers

The good: With Lexie Brown on the bench for most of the second quarter in foul trouble, someone had to step up for the Blue Devils. Greenwell did just that, carrying Duke’s offense and scoring one point shy of her career high with 30 in a 95-71 victory against North Carolina. The Owensboro, Ky., native started scoring early and often Sunday, racking up 15 first-half points while Brown’s ability to impact the game was limited. Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Duke stumbled to its second straight road loss at Miami 55-50 Saturday evening with Grayson Allen sidelined due to a left ankle injury, falling out of position for a top-four seed and a double-bye in the ACC tournament. The Chronicle's Sameer Pandhare and Sam Turken broke down what caused the Blue Devils' worst offensive performance of the season.

0:31—Why Miami's 2-3 zone created a lot of problems for Duke's offense in the first half

1:25—What head coach Mike Krzyewski said after the game about Amile Jefferson's nagging foot injury and whether he could sit Tuesday against Florida State

2:11—A subpar performance from Tatum, who was not as reliable from the perimeter as he has been for much of the last month Read more »

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

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

For the second time in a week, the home crowd stormed the court after beating Duke—this time in Miami as the Hurricanes knocked off the Blue Devils 55-50 Saturday afternoon. It was Duke's lowest scoring output in eight years, and the Blue Devils are now just 3-5 on the road this season.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Grayson Allen finds his form: The junior guard has been plagued by an ankle injury and has not practiced the past few weeks, and after he struggled to find a rhythm Wednesday at Syracuse, head coach Mike Krzyzewski rested Allen against Miami. Harry Giles started in place of the Jacksonville, Fla., native, but it was fellow freshman Frank Jackson who took the lion's share of the minutes as Duke's primary point guard with Allen on the bench.
  • Win the battle of the boards: Although a lot went wrong for the Blue Devils in South Florida, they were able to control the glass against a long Hurricane side. Miami utilized a 2-3 zone—similar to the one Duke faced against the Orange earlier in the week—and the Blue Devils took advantage on the offensive boards yet again. Duke collected 21 offensive rebounds to just 13 for the Hurricanes and won the overall battle 46-42, led by eight boards from Giles.
  • Better switching on screens to avoid foul trouble: Facing a Miami offense with a number of talented guards, the Blue Devils needed to avoid getting saddled by fouls like they were Wednesday. In a well-officiated game, neither team had a player whistled for more than three fouls, and Duke big men Giles, Amile Jefferson and Marques Bolden repeatedly forced the Hurricanes into tough entry passes. They did struggle to protect the paint, though, as the hosts scored 40 of their 55 points down low.

Three key stats:

  • Luke Kennard shoots 6-of-20 from the field: Despite putting up 16 points to lead the Blue Devil offense along with Jackson, the sophomore guard could not get comfortable, with Miami's length giving him fits. Kennard played all 40 minutes, but did not make a 3-pointer until the 11:35 mark of the second half and hit on just 2-of-6 long-range attempts. The Franklin, Ohio, native was also one of four Duke players to register three turnovers, and the Blue Devil offense struggled without the usual stellar performance of its leading scorer.
  • Duke struggles to just 3-of-9 shooting at the charity stripe: The Blue Devils left six points out on the floor and were not able to earn easy points from the free-throw line. Both Jefferson and Giles went 0-for-2, with Giles' two misses coming in the final minute when Duke had a chance to trim the deficit to one possession. The Blue Devils could not draw contact on a number of chances deep in the paint, and their nine free-throw attempts were a season low.
  • Miami tallies 18 points off turnovers: Although Duke's 13 turnovers were not necessarily a season high, they came on a number of costly occasions in live-ball situations and allowed the Hurricanes to score several easy buckets. Miami's Ja'Quan Newton laid one in right before halftime after Bruce Brown picked Jackson's pocket and gave the home team plenty of momentum headed into the break.

Three key plays: Read more »

Halftime: Miami 22, Duke 21

CORAL GABLES, Fla.— With Grayson Allen on the sidelines in street clothes due to an ankle injury, Duke has been inconsistent on offense and finds itself trailing in a defensive struggle after 20 minutes of play. 

The Hurricanes lead the Blue Devils 22-21 at the Watsco Center thanks to 13 points from freshman guard Bruce Brown and a buzzer-beating layup from Ja'Quan Newton. Although Duke sophomore Luke Kennard has eight points, he is just 4-of-11 from the field as the Blue Devils matched a season-low in first-half points by shooting 34.5 percent and committing seven turnovers. 

Freshman Frank Jackson was Duke's main spark in the opening 20 minutes with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting. 

The Hurricanes jumped out to a quick start as Brown registered scoop layups on Miami's first two possessions. He then added a top-of-the key 3-pointer to stake the Hurricanes to a 7-2 lead. Although the Blue Devils responded to cut the lead to one, Duke's offense started out 2-of-7 and looked a bit out of rhythm with Kennard forcing up shots early while in the lane.  Read more »

Duke in the NBA: Irving says Earth is flat, Cook signs NBA contract

Duke in the NBA: Irving says Earth is flat, Cook signs NBA contract

A few former Blue Devils were busy during All-Star Weekend and are now ready for the stretch run of the regular season.

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

Irving made headlines this past week not for his play on the court during the NBA All-Star Weekend, but rather for his confident assertion that the Earth, contrary to popular belief, is flat. The former lottery pick guard first spoke up about the issue during an interview on the podcast "Road Trippin' with RJ & Channing," and then repeated his claim on ESPN later in the week. 

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Hank Tucker look ahead to the Blue Devils' rematch with Miami on the road Saturday afternoon, with Duke looking to bounce back from a loss at Syracuse that snapped its seven-game winning streak.

0:40—How the Hurricanes have won three games in a row even without star guard Ja'Quan Newton, who will return from suspension Saturday

1:54—Whether the Blue Devils might go back to the defensive-minded lineup that helped them rally from an 11-point halftime deficit against Miami a month ago

2:23—What Marques Bolden's role could be Saturday after the freshman big man did not get off the bench Wednesday Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

After a loss at the buzzer to Syracuse Wednesday, Duke will look to get back on track with a win at Miami Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Watsco Center. The last time these two teams met Jan. 21, Duke overcame a daunting 11-point deficit at the half to win by 12, led by a clutch performance by Matt Jones. However, Miami enters the matchup hot, riding a three-game winning streak and coming off a thrilling overtime victory at No. 18 Virginia Monday. Here are three keys to the game for the Blue Devils to get back to their winning ways:

Grayson Allen Finds His Form

Following a gutty performance against North Carolina, scoring 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead Duke to victory, Grayson Allen has gone cold of late. The junior guard is averaging only 8.0 points per contest during the last four games, shooting a dismal a 22.5 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from behind the arc during that span. 

Although Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum have done a tremendous job shouldering the load, the Blue Devils are at their best when all three primary scorers are firing on all cylinders. If Allen can return to hitting shots, Duke will be very difficult to defend and there will be a plethora of exploitable mismatches for all three players. Allen needs to get into a groove before March, or else Duke may be looking at an early exit in the Big Dance.

Win the Battle of the Boards

Duke has been up and down lately with its rebounding. During their last eight games, the Blue Devils held the advantage in four of them, and if their shooting continues to be inconsistent, rebounding and second-chance points will be the key to staying in the game. Despite shooting only 39.1 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from downtown, Duke led for most of the game against Syracuse thanks to superb offensive rebounding, pulling down 16 offensive boards and scoring 17 second-chance points. Read more »