Halftime: Duke 44, N.C. State 38

After an emotional come-from-behind win Saturday, the Blue Devils have stayed hot through 20 minutes of action against N.C. State.

Behind a strong offensive showing, No. 17 Duke leads the Wolfpack 44-38 at halftime here at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Points have come in bunches as the Blue Devils shot 6-of-13 from beyond the arc after struggling from deep in their last few contests.

Interim head coach Jeff Capel opened the game with the five players that were responsible for turning around Saturday’s contest against Miami—opting to leave junior Grayson Allen and sophomore Luke Kennard on the bench to begin the game.

But the starting group was unable to find the same type of magic it had against the Hurricanes and both teams were evenly matched through the first 10 minutes. Read more »

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 11

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 11

Two top-10 teams fell to unranked opponents and Duke got back on track in a tumultuous week in the top-25.

Unlucky No. 7

West Virginia and Creighton shared the No. 7 spot in last week’s AP Poll, but both fell in the latest rankings after being upset by unranked teams.

The Mountaineers lost 89-87 in overtime at home against an 8-10 Oklahoma team Wednesday and fell to Kansas State 79-75 Saturday, tumbling to No. 18 in the rankings. The Wildcats improved to 15-4 with all five starters scoring at least 13 points but remain on the outside looking in at the rankings. Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

The Blue Devils face a quick turnaround with a Monday night contest against N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Stadium just two days after they beat Miami 70-58. The Wolfpack have had a disappointing season thus far, but still have the talent to challenge Duke. Here are three keys to Monday's game for the Blue Devils:

Contain Dennis Smith Jr.

N.C. State has been one of the ACC's weakest teams this year, but it has one player who will garner plenty of attention as interim head coach Jeff Capel makes his gameplan for Monday night—Dennis Smith Jr. The freshman—who leads his team in both points and assists this season—was the No. 4 recruit and top guard in the Class of 2016, and he has not disappointed for the Wolfpack. The Fayetteville, N.C., native is a complete player—he is one of only 17 players in the nation with a triple-double this season and is the only player in the top five in the conference in both points per game and assists.

In their most recent game against Miami, Duke’s guards stepped up down the stretch and halted the Hurricane backcourt's early offensive success, and they will need to do the same against Smith Jr. Do not be surprised if the Blue Devils rely on the duo of senior Matt Jones and freshman Frank Jackson—who combined for five steals against Miami—to lock down the versatile guard as he attempts to lead his team to a road upset.

Get 3-point shooting back on track

Jones sparked Duke Saturday night by going 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, but aside from the senior co-captain’s performance, the Blue Devils were a dismal 2-of-11 from long range, far from the team’s 36.5 percent clip this season. Duke—which has historically prided itself on efficient 3-point shooting—has really struggled this year and ranks just 12th in the conference from deep, a number that needs to improve if the team expects to keep up offensively with other powerhouse programs in the ACC.  Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. N.C. State

A big second-half surge propelled Duke past Miami Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak, but the Blue Devils do not have much time to rest before hosting N.C. State Monday night at 7. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game.

Duke: Center Marques Bolden

After piecing together his best game of the season against Miami, Bolden could be the difference for Duke defensively moving forward. With most of the Wolfpack offense likely to come from point guard Dennis Smith Jr. running the pick-and-roll, having Bolden play like he did against the Hurricanes would help the Blue Devils immensely.

By successfully hedging on screens and protecting the rim effectively, Bolden was one of the catalysts for Duke's comeback Saturday. Not only does the freshman from DeSoto, Texas, offer the Blue Devils interior protection, Bolden’s skills on the glass could result in additional possessions to keep the ball out of the hands of a high-powered Wolfpack offense. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball va. N.C. State

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball va. N.C. State

The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Sameer Pandhare broke down what Duke needs to do with a quick turnaround ahead of its game Monday night against N.C. State at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils used a 20-0 second-half run to rally past Miami Saturday.

0:34—Whether Duke's lineup change to start the second half against the Hurricanes could signal a more lasting rotation change moving forward

2:18—What the Blue Devils need to do to stop freshman phenom Dennis Smith Jr. and the Wolfpack's pick-and-roll

3:43—Which other weapons Duke needs to look out for defensively besides Smith Jr. Read more »

Around the ACC: Week 11

Around the ACC: Week 11

With a gritty second-half performance against Miami Saturday, Duke moved back to .500 in conference play. The Blue Zone takes a look at how the rest of the ACC fared this week.

No. 9 North Carolina (18-3, 6-1)

Following a statement win last weekend at home against Florida State, the Tar Heels stayed hot with an easy 85-68 victory against Syracuse. In head coach Roy Williams' 800th win, North Carolina pulled away late after the Orange got within three early in the second half, as Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson combined to score 54 points. Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Boston College gave North Carolina all it could handle for 38 minutes, but a Joel Berry II 3-pointer with 1:14 to play was the dagger in the Tar Heels' 90-82 triumph.

No. 15 Notre Dame (17-3, 6-1) Read more »

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

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

Duke scored 20 straight points early in the second half to rally from a double-digit deficit and beat Miami 70-58 Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Four Blue Devils scored in double figures to spark an offense that scored 46 points after the break following a dismal first half.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Interior Defense: Graduate student Amile Jefferson made his return tonight after missing the previous two games due to a right-foot bone bruise and provided a vital boost to Duke’s interior defense. The Blue Devils only allowed 28 points in the paint after being gashed inside recently. Freshman Marques Bolden, who had been largely relegated to the bench this season, had his best performance of the year with eight points and four rebounds and finally looked like the player Blue Devil fans expected after signing as the top-ranked center in the country.
  • Knock Shots Down from the Outside: After Duke went 0-for-7 from the 3-point line on its way to scoring just 25 points in an abysmal first half, the Blue Devils stepped things up after the break. Senior Matt Jones was the catalyst, knocking down three of Duke’s five triples in the second half, and Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum each made a 3-pointer to help the Blue Devils pull away.
  • Pass the Ball: Duke continued its struggles finding open teammates for baskets, only recording nine assists against the Hurricanes. In the first half, this hamstrung its offense, as the Blue Devils were repeatedly forced to toss up tough shots. The second half was a different story though, as the main reason for the lack of assists was that Duke was able to rack up so many transition baskets. This will continue to be a key area for the Blue Devils, though, as isolation basketball is unlikely to work consistently in the ACC.

Three key stats:

  • Duke scores 31 points off turnovers: Defense fueled the Blue Devils' offense in their 31-4 run to start the second half, as Duke forced 12 second-half giveaways and sped the game to get the Hurricanes out of a rhythm on offense. Jefferson, Jones, Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson each had more than two steals to set the tone for one of the Blue Devils' best defensive performances of the year.
  • Marques Bolden plays 23 minutes: Interim head coach Jeff Capel benched top recruit Harry Giles—who played just eight minutes—and elected to leave Bolden during the game-changing run in the second half with a defensive-minded lineup. Bolden hedged aggressively on screens all night to shut down Miami's pick-and-roll, which Duke struggled to defend against Florida State and Louisville last week.
  • The Hurricanes finish with zero bench points: Miami's bench was nonexistent, combining to shoot 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line in more than 36 minutes on the floor. When the Hurricanes needed to stop the bleeding in the second half, head coach Jim Larrañaga did not have any options to look to on his bench.

Three key plays: Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Drew Johnson broke down Duke's first victory in more than two weeks from Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the No. 18 Blue Devils used a 20-0 second-half run to rally past Miami 70-58.

0:20—How Matt Jones sparked Duke's decisive run

0:48—What Duke did on defense to help kickstart its offense after the break

1:33—The difference interim head coach Jeff Capel's lineup change made to start the second half Read more »

Halftime: Miami 36, Duke 25

Despite returning to the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium following back-to-back road losses last week, No. 18 Duke’s struggles have persisted early on against Miami. After 20 minutes of action, the Hurricanes are ahead of the Blue Devils 36-25 led by Davon Reed's 12 points on four made triples.

Duke was in disarray everywhere offensively against a Hurricane team that allows just 61.5 points per game. The team has averaged 36.7 percent from beyond the arc entering Saturday’s game, but was ice cold from three through 20 minutes, shooting 0-of-8 as Miami drained 5-of-9 treys on the other end of the floor. The Blue Devils' 25 points were their lowest first-half total this year.

When the team was able to work the ball inside to graduate student Amile Jefferson—back in the lineup after missing two games with a right-foot bone bruise—Miami shifted well and gave the forward plenty of defensive pressure, forcing Jefferson to 0-for-3 shooting from the floor.

The Hurricanes made their gameplan clear early on to attack the rim and challenge Duke’s forwards defensively, using high ball screens to give guards Reed and Ja’Quan Newton chances to finish in the paint. But it was eventually back-to-back three pointers by Reed and Bruce Brown that gave Miami a 18-11 lead midway through the half. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami

Following a week off for Duke, The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Drew Johnson broke down the Blue Devils' upcoming matchup Saturday against Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium as they try to snap a two-game losing streak.

0:24—Whether Duke can take care of the ball better than it did in its two losses last week

0:49—Amile Jefferson's uncertain status for Saturday and whether another big man can step up to fill his void

2:09—A look at Miami and its second-best scoring defense in the ACC Read more »