Tatum and Jefferson star against Florida after attending funerals for loved ones

Tatum and Jefferson star against Florida after attending funerals for loved ones

NEW YORK—Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been adamant following recent games that his team does not practice very much.

Whether it is sophomore Grayson Allen dealing with turf toe, Frank Jackson battling a sore foot of his own or Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden shaking off the rust, Duke has struggled finding enough bodies to hold practice.

But a pair of Duke’s best performers Tuesday were not at the team’s practice a day earlier for a different reason altogether.

“Yesterday, both Amile and Jayson were not with us. We had no practice yesterday with them because they were both at funerals for their loved ones,” Krzyzewski said. “Amile’s grandmother who helped raise him passed away and they had a funeral in Philadelphia. Jayson was in St. Louis for the funeral of his great-grandmother. For those kids to come back, we just haven’t practiced very much with injuries and all this.” Read more »

Duke AD Kevin White no longer enemies with son, Florida head coach Mike, after Jimmy V Classic

Duke AD Kevin White no longer enemies with son, Florida head coach Mike, after Jimmy V Classic

NEW YORK—Once the Gators wrapped up a 91-60 win against North Florida Thursday, Florida head coach Mike White knew that the next few days would bring a range of emotions to the table.

After 11 minutes of fielding the media’s questions following an 84-74 loss to No. 5 Duke Tuesday, White embraced his parents—Kevin and Jane White—with a giant hug, knowing that their time spent as opponents had ended.

“Heck, last night I would’ve loved to join them for dinner,” Mike White said. “I’m not sure dad would’ve invited me, as we’ve been enemies here for the last 48 hours. We haven’t spoken in the last couple days so I’ll be anxious to get 60 seconds with them before we all head back to the hotel.”

In the teams’ first matchup since 2000, the White family subplot was an intriguing link between programs that do not see each other on the court very often.  Read more »

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

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

Jayson Tatum recorded his best game in a Duke uniform, but the fifth-ranked Blue Devils were carried yet again by graduate student Amile Jefferson and sophomore Luke Kennard, who combined for 53 points in an 84-74 victory against No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden. At the end of a back-and-forth first half, Duke used a 15-3 run to pull away and head into halftime with a 41-31 lead. The win puts the Blue Devils at 9-1 on the season entering Saturday’s matchup at UNLV.   

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Protect the basketball: Tasked with protecting the ball against a stout defense that forces almost 17 turnovers a game, the Blue Devils performed moderately well, turning the ball over 13 times. No one individual was a consistent culprit for Duke, with seven different players registering at least one giveaway. The Blue Devils forced 13 Florida turnovers and finished the night with eight steals.
  • Hit 3-pointers: Looking to improve on its 3-point field-goal percentage—the Blue Devils ranked 146th in that category entering the game—Duke shot 7-for-17 from beyond the arc against the Gators. Kennard knocked down five of his seven attempts, backing up a 35-point performance against Maine with a 29-point effort Tuesday night. Florida almost surged back into the game by hitting multiple 3-pointers late in the game and went 6-for-11 from beyond the arc, but the Blue Devils’ lead proved to be too much.
  • Crash the glass: Without Marques Bolden and Harry Giles down low to start the season, the Blue Devils still found ways to outrebound opponents consistently, and the trend continued against the Gators. Duke outrebounded Florida 35-32 thanks to Jefferson, who matched a career high with 15 boards. The Blue Devils will look to include Bolden more moving forward in order to continue their success on the glass—the freshman center played just two minutes after racking up two early fouls.

Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Three Blue Devils scored at least 22 points in a game for the first time in more than 15 years to help No. 5 Duke beat No. 21 Florida 84-74 Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic. The Chronicle's Sameer Pandhare and Mitchell Gladstone broke down the big game for Luke Kennard, Amile Jefferson and Jayson Tatum from Madison Square Garden. The topics discussed can be viewed below.

0:23—How Tatum came off the bench to spark Duke's run to take control at the end of the first half

1:32—Why Kennard has surprised many as the Blue Devils' best player this season

3:16—Where Harry Giles will fit into the rotation when he returns from injury and why Marques Bolden sat on the bench for the entire second half Read more »

Halftime: Duke 41, Florida 31

NEW YORK—With Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson all active Tuesday, one wondered who would do the scoring damage for the Blue Devils.

But through 20 minutes, it has been the same duo that has carried Duke through much of the season. 

Led by sophomore Luke Kennard and graduate student Amile Jefferson, the No. 5 Blue Devils hold a 41-31 lead on No. 21 Florida at intermission in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The half was hotly-contested for almost the entire period, but Duke pulled away with a late 13-1 run to take control. 

After combining for 55 points Saturday against Maine, Kennard and Jefferson picked up where they left off. Jefferson has 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and eight rebounds against a strong Gator frontcourt, and Kennard added 13 points on 6-of-8 from the floor.  Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Duke will face a tough test Tuesday night against No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden in New York City as part of the Jimmy V Classic. The Blue Devils are riding high on a six-game winning streak and just welcomed back freshman five-star recruits Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden in their last game against Maine. Here are three keys to success for Duke to triumph against the Gators:

Protect the Basketball

Florida's tough defense has fueled its early-season success, forcing an average of 16.9 turnovers per game. The Blue Devils have been careful with the ball thus far, only averaging 11.6 per game, but this will be the best defense Duke has faced this season besides Kansas. Senior guard Matt Jones will be depended on for his poise in the backcourt, and the Blue Devils’ customary three- or four-guard lineup will also combat the pressure defense by putting more players comfortable with handling the ball on the floor.

Hit 3-pointers

In Florida’s only loss this season against No. 8 Gonzaga, the Gators had trouble defending the 3-point line, allowing the Bulldogs to knock down 43.8 percent of their attempts from behind the arc. Duke has plenty of sharpshooters including Luke Kennard, who has been on fire to start the season. The sophomore is averaging 19.4 points per game and poured in a career-high 35 Saturday against Maine. Adding Tatum to the fold will only increase the Blue Devils’ potency, as the 6-foot-8 freshman is very comfortable behind the arc.

Crash the Glass

It is no secret that rebounding is often the key to winning basketball games. Duke has done an excellent job on the glass so far this year, outrebounding opponents by an average of 8.2 boards per game. Graduate Amile Jefferson has led the effort, averaging almost 10 rebounds a game, and now that Bolden is healthy, the Blue Devils have another option in the post. If the outside shots are not falling, it will be imperative that Duke crashes the glass for offensive rebounds to spark its offense.  Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Duke’s home win against Maine last Saturday was marked by the debuts of star freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. But with junior Grayson Allen and freshmen Frank Jackson sidelined for Saturday's contest, Tuesday’s matchup against No. 21 Florida at Madison Square Garden will be a true test of the fifth-ranked Blue Devils’ chemistry. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game:

Duke: Guard Grayson Allen

After averaging 21.6 points per game last year and being named the 2016-17 ACC Preseason Player of the Year, Allen is not off to the start that Blue Devil fans envisioned. The junior guard is averaging 17.1 points per game so far but is shooting just 37.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range. Allen has also yet to play a regular-season game with five-star freshmen Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, who have all been dealing with early-season leg injuries.

While Tatum and Bolden saw action Saturday in a 94-55 win against Maine, Allen, who had been playing through a nagging toe injury, sat out to rest. If Allen is healthy enough to play Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if the time off and increased star power around him will elevate his game. Although the scoring trio of Allen, Tatum and sophomore guard Luke Kennard is formidable on paper, the Gators present a litmus test of how a healthier Duke team can mesh together. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Florida

Before the Blue Devils get their second chance at a win in Madison Square Garden this season Tuesday night against No. 21 Florida, The Chronicle's Sameer Pandhare and Mitchell Gladstone broke down what to expect against the Gators. 

Duke is currently riding a six-game winning streak and welcomed freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden back to the floor Tuesday night, but they will need to shake off the rust quickly for the last marquee game of the Blue Devils' nonconference slate. The topics discussed can be viewed below.

0:43—How Florida's defense has propelled it into the top 25

2:39—What Duke may do offensively with what could be as close to its full complement of players this season Read more »

Duke women's basketball returns to top 25 after upsetting South Carolina

The Blue Devils fell out of the top 25 for the first time since 1999 in February, ending a 312-week streak with an appearance in the AP Poll.

After 12 weeks on the outside looking in, Duke returned to the top 25 Monday.

The Blue Devils (9-1) moved up to No. 21 in this week's rankings after their 74-63 upset of then-No. 3 South Carolina Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks had previously earned top-15 wins against Louisville, Ohio State and Texas, but could not solve Duke's matchup zone or find an answer for Rebecca Greenwell, who had 29 points.

Duke's return to the AP Poll comes after one of the toughest stretches in program history—after falling out of the top 25, the Blue Devils missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994, lost star players Azurá  Stevens and Angela Salvadores and dealt with an internal investigation. Duke is hoping it can build on the momentum in the rest of its nonconference schedule.  Read more »

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 4

Four of the top seven teams lost this week, as Baylor, UCLA and Indiana all picked up big wins. The Blue Devils remained at No. 5 and saw freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden make their debuts Saturday against Maine.

Top-ranked Kentucky falls to UCLA for second consecutive year

No. 11 UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92 Saturday in Lexington, Ky., the 12th time UCLA has beaten a top-ranked opponent since the first ever AP poll in 1949. The Bruins’ leading scorer was senior shooting guard Isaac Hamilton with 19, and although freshman phenom Lonzo Ball only shot 5-for-12 from the field and 2-for-8 from three-point range, he contributed seven assists and six rebounds. UCLA now leads the country in field goal percentage at 55.1 percent as well as assists per game with 24.0. After getting off to a slow start, going down 14 at one point in the second half, Kentucky cut the lead to three with 8.3 seconds remaining, but ultimately could not come all the way back. The win for the Bruins marks the second time in as many years they have beaten a top-ranked Kentucky team. The Wildcats fell to No. 6 in this week's poll—Villanova took over the top spot—and UCLA leapfrogged them all the way to No. 2. Read more »