Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

In the midst of a seven-game conference winning streak, the Blue Devils will look to tally their fourth ACC road win Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. All of Duke’s seven straight wins have been decided by 10 points or less, and four of the Blue Devils' five matchups against the Orange in the last three years have been decided by single digits. Syracuse enters Wednesday’s contest on a three-game losing streak, hoping to return to the form that fueled to a four-game conference win streak earlier in the year. Here are three keys to the game for the Blue Devils:

Find the open 3

The Orange and head coach Jim Boeheim boast a notorious 2-3 zone defense, an uncommon staple in the ACC. In order to break down Syracuse’s defense, the Blue Devils will have to be diligent about being patient and utilizing the shot clock, something they have struggled to do at times throughout the season. With Jayson Tatum evolving into a more reliable 3-point shooter recently, Duke's plethora of perimeter weapons could give the Blue Devils a significant advantage.

After a standout performance against North Carolina Feb. 9, junior Grayson Allen has turned in three consecutive quiet performances. He and sophomore Luke Kennard rely heavily on 3-pointers, and there is potential for either to have a strong game while Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles tangle with the Orange frontcourt.

Control the tempo from the start

Despite the seven-game winning streak, the Blue Devils struggle to dominate early and often and have sometimes played down to their competition. Duke entered halftime with a sizable lead in only two of those seven victories, relying on second-half spurts to ultimately decide close games. Fourteen of Syracuse’s 16 wins have come at home, so it will be necessary for the Blue Devils to establish a consistent rhythm early to take the crowd out of the game. Duke handed Notre Dame its second home loss of the season Jan. 30 by spreading the ball and attacking the rim, two essential tasks against any Syracuse team. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

With the Blue Devils riding a seven-game winning streak, The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Mitchell Gladstone get you ready for another tough road contest at Syracuse Wednesday night at 7.

0:36—What makes the Orange's experienced offense dangerous in the backcourt

1:22—Why Syracuse's zone has not been very effective this year

2:03—How the Orange's shot-happy tendencies could play right into Duke's hands Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Syracuse

Duke heads to Syracuse, N.Y., Wednesday looking to continue its current seven-game winning streak and pick up a game in the ACC standings against Louisville or North Carolina, who will also meet Wednesday in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils are aiming to defeat Syracuse for the fourth time in six matchups since the Orange joined the ACC in 2013. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game:

Duke: Guard Frank Jackson

Although classmate Jayson Tatum has drawn the most attention for his series of performances during Duke’s winning streak, the Blue Devils will need another freshman to step up and deliver against Syracuse. The Orange feature Hall-of-Fame head coach Jim Boeheim’s famed 2-3 zone, which Syracuse has turned into a deadly weapon during Boeheim’s tenure since he first became head coach in 1976, four years before Coach K arrived in Durham. 

In order for Duke to dismantle this signature defense, point guard play will be key. When the point guard is able to shoot over the zone in addition to attacking the gaps with dribble penetration and dishing out to shooters, he can overwork the front two guards and set up opportunities for his teammates. Read more »

This week in Duke history: Krzyzewski starts walk-ons against Chris Paul, Wake Forest

This week in Duke history: Krzyzewski starts walk-ons against Chris Paul, Wake Forest

Not every game is a big one for a walk-on, especially at Duke.

But imagine being a walk-on and having to go against one of the best players in the ACC in recent memory, a future star in the NBA.

That was the task for sophomore Patrick Davidson Feb. 20, 2005. Fed up with two straight losses, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski swapped out three starters for former walk-on Reggie Love and walk-ons Davidson and Patrick Johnson against Chris Paul and then-No. 5 Wake Forest.

And what happened? Read more »

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 »