Around the ACC: Week 13

The ACC Championship is just around the corner next weekend in Charlotte, N.C., and the conference had a strong showing in the final week of the regular season. With nine games on the schedule, every ranked team came away with a win, and just one team—Georgia Tech—dropped a contest to an non-conference opponent this week.

Duke 27, Wake Forest 21

After dropping four consecutive games in conference play, the Blue Devils were finally able to right the ship on the road against the Demon Deacons. With a win, Duke guaranteed itself a winning season for the third straight campaign, but it was not always a sure victory. Despite holding a 24-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils surrendered two touchdowns in the waning minutes of the game that kept Wake Forest in the game. But the Demon Deacons failed to recover an onside kick with 1:46 remaining, sealing the victory for Duke. Quarterback Thomas Sirk finished with 275 yards and two touchdowns—both to senior Max McCaffrey—in his first multiple-touchdown passing performance since the Blue Devils’ four overtime victory against Virginia Tech.

No. 1 Clemson 37, South Carolina 32 Read more »

Duke women's basketball Player of the Week: Week 3

Duke women's basketball Player of the Week: Week 3

Azurá Stevens

Statline: Thursday vs. Idaho: 22 points on 11-of-17 shooting, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks; Friday vs. Iowa State: 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks; Saturday vs. Texas State: 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block.

The good: Stevens led the Blue Devils in scoring in two of the three games played in Cancún, Mexico and was named MVP of the round-robin tournament. The star forward scored early and often in blowout victories against Iowa State and Texas State, and was crucial in preserving a six-point victory against Idaho.

Stevens was able to utilize her 6-foot-6 frame to her advantage in the post, often making easy shots over smaller defenders. The Cary, N.C., native’s post presence also allowed her teammates to find themselves in prime scoring spots, as Stevens cleared the way for Rebecca Greenwell, Oderah Chidom, Crystal Primm and Angela Salvadores to have strong performances in the tournament. Read more »

SPORTSWRAP: Demons Exorcised

This week's edition of Sportswrap features Blue Devil quarterback Thomas Sirk, who helped Duke snap its four-game losing streak on the gridiron with a three-touchdown performance in the team's 27-21 victory at Wake Forest Saturday. With the win, the Blue Devils finished the regular season with a 7-5 record and will await their bowl fate next Sunday. Sportswrap is your one-stop shop for the weekend that was in Duke athletics.

Proctor's big saves help Duke women's soccer advance to Final Four on penalty kicks: Third-seeded Duke topped top-seeded Stanford 3-2 in penalty kicks Friday, sending the Blue Devils to the Final Four in nearby Cary, N.C., for the second time in the last five years.

Duke men's basketball survives slow start, beats Yale: The Blue Devils wound up with a lopsided victory Wednesday night, but they were forced to wake up in a hurry after a sluggish start. Read more »

Making the Grade: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Making the Grade: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Duke ended its four-game skid on Saturday with a 27-21 victory against Wake Forest in Winston Salem, N.C. Thomas Sirk threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score and senior Max McCaffrey caught two long touchdown passes for the Blue Devils. Sirk was able to play well in his return to the Duke offense after the team struggled on that side of the ball in the last few weeks.

Offense: B+

Pass: Sirk was able to march the offense up and down the field against the Demon Deacons after struggling against Virginia. The Glen Saint Mary, Fla., native was 26-of-39 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Sirk was able to consistently place the ball where his receivers could go up and get it and the offense finished two long drives of more than 70 yards with touchdowns. Max McCaffrey caught five balls for 93 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter that put the Blue Devils up by three scores.

Rush: Sirk rushed 16 times for 57 yards and a touchdown on the ground, as the running game threatened the Wake Forest defense and was able to help open up things through the air. Senior Shaquille Powell rushed 15 times for 46 yards and junior Jela Duncan chipped in 40 yards as well. The ground game's ability to pick up solid yardage on early downs allowed Duke to get into manageable third-down situations and find open receivers downfield. Read more »

Thoughts on the AP Poll: Week 13

With the college football regular season coming to a close, Saturday's action cleared up the college football playoff picture heading into the final week of action. 

Duke downs Wake Forest to finish with winning-record 

The Blue Devils snapped a four-game losing streak with a 27-21 victory against the Demon Deacons in the teams' regular-season finale. Quarterback Thomas Sirk threw a pair of touchdown passes to wide receiver Max McCaffrey and helped Duke jump out to a 24-7 lead. Although Wake Forest rallied in the fourth quarter to make the game close, the Blue Devil special teams made a stop on the final play of the game to secure the victory. Sirk finished 26-of-39 for 275 yards and led the team to its third consecutive winning season. 

Michigan State awaits Iowa in Big Ten Championship game  Read more »

HALFTIME: Duke 38, Utah State 27

Luke Kennard's shooting woes appear to be a thing of the past.

The freshman poured in 12 points on an efficient 4-of-5 shooting to lead Duke to a 38-27 lead at halftime against Utah State Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After struggling with his shot in his first few games, Kennard drilled his first two attempts from downtown against the Aggies, which appeared to give him a boost of confidence for the rest of the half.

Amile Jefferson was aggressive early on for the Blue Devils. The senior picked up Duke's first points of the afternoon by following up a missed Grayson Allen spin move and converted two nice spinning post moves for six fast points heading into the first media timeout and went to the break with 10 points and five rebounds.

Utah State has done a decent job fighting over the top of Duke's screens near the top of the key and preventing the Blue Devil guards from turning the corner. As a result, Duke has often had to work deep into the shot clock to get an open look. Read more »

XFactor: Duke basketball vs Utah State

XFactor: Duke basketball vs Utah State

After dismantling Yale in an 80-61 victory, No. 6 Duke will try to extend its NCAA-best 119-game nonconference winning streak Sunday against Utah State. The Blue Devils (5-1) are riding a three-game winning streak, while Utah State (4-0) has not lost this season, and is looking to build on an 81-55 victory against Utah Valley Tuesday. The Blue Zone takes a look at one player from each team who could be the difference in the game:

Duke: center Marshall Plumlee

Plumlee is a captain and has been an emotional leader of this team. He brings leadership and experience, and his hustle has made him one of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s favorite players. Averaging 2.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game, Plumlee makes a living on the defensive end and will look to do so again against the Aggies—a team that does not have a player listed taller than 6-foot-9. Read more »

Extra Point: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Extra Point: Duke football vs Wake Forest

Duke was the better team on both sides of the ball and snapped its four-game losing streak with a 27-21 victory at Wake Forest in its regular season finale Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils never trailed in the game and held off a late rally by the Demon Deacons after taking a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils improved to 7-5 with the win and clinched their third straight winning season.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Manage Boehme and Sirk: Thomas Sirk started the game and engineered a solid drive on his first possession before Ross Martin barely missed a 39-yard field goal. On the Blue Devils’ second drive, Boehme took the field and could not lead the offense to a first down on Duke’s only three-and-out until its last possession of the game. Sirk reentered the contest and led a touchdown drive the next time down the field, and Duke head coach David Cutcliffe rode the hot hand and kept his starting quarterback in for the rest of the game.
  • Do not take Wake Forest lightly: The Demon Deacons have challenged several strong opponents despite their 3-9 record, and they did not go down quietly as they tried to mount a fourth-quarter comeback. The Blue Devils knew they needed a win to improve their bowl placement prospects, and they came ready to play from the start and made enough plays down the stretch to finish off a gritty Wake Forest squad.
  • No slow starts: Duke was very disciplined from the opening kickoff, marching down the field on its first possession and rebounding from the missed field goal to get a couple stops in a row and strike first with a touchdown late in the first quarter. The Blue Devils gradually built up a 10-point halftime cushion, gaining 18 first downs in the first half while allowing the Demon Deacons to move the chains just four times.

Three key plays:

  • 6:19 remaining, first quarter: With the game still scoreless, Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford scrambled up the middle on third-and-five and fumbled as he dove for the first-down marker, with Duke linebacker Dwayne Norman knocking the ball loose. Junior safety Deondre Singleton recovered the fumble—which was upheld after review—and the Blue Devils took advantage of the short field for their first touchdown drive.
  • 0:04 remaining, second quarter: Senior kicker Ross Martin has had a shaky last few weeks and missed his first attempt against the Demon Deacons, but he calmly split the uprights on a long 51-yard attempt on the last play of the half to give Duke its first two-possession lead of the afternoon.
  • 7:20 remaining, fourth quarter: Wake Forest was down 24-14 and driving into Blue Devil territory with plenty of time to mount a comeback. But Wolford’s pass down the right sideline intended for K.J. Brent was intercepted by cornerback Breon Borders. The junior dove in front of Brent for his third pick of the season and the Demon Deacons’ third turnover of the game.

Three key stats: Read more »

Key Three: Duke basketball vs Utah State

Key Three: Duke basketball vs Utah State

After pulling away in the second half in an 80-61 victory against Yale Wednesday, the Blue Devils will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they host Utah State Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The Aggies are undefeated through four games, with their best win coming in their season opener at Weber State. Here are three keys to a Duke victory against Utah State:

Get off to a strong start

The Blue Devils have come out flat and trailed for most of the first half in each of their last four games. The Bulldogs scored the first nine points of Wednesday night’s contest, and Duke spent the rest of the period playing catch-up to stumble into the locker room with just a two-point lead. Against Utah State, the Blue Devils need to seize an early lead and keep building on it for the entire game. After all, the longer an underdog stays in the game, the more confidence brews that an upset may be in the making. 

Like every opponent that comes into Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Aggies will certainly come out with a lot of energy and expect to compete. Duke needs to match their intensity from the opening tip and get the crowd in the game early. The Blue Devils could probably recover from another bad start Sunday and win the game—just as they did against VCU, Georgetown and Yale—but they need to show that they can sustain a high level of energy for 40 minutes. Read more »

Chronicle Postgame: Duke 27, Wake Forest 21

The Chronicle's Ryan Hoerger breaks down a 27-21 Blue Devil victory in Duke's regular season finale. Led by Thomas Sirk and Max McCaffrey, the Blue Devils snapped a four-game losing streak against Wake Forest, creating three turnovers while committing zero giveaways to pick up their seventh win of the season. Duke now awaits its bowl fate and is assured a winning season for the third straight year.