Thoughts on the AP Poll: Week 14

With the NFL season complete, the attention of the sports world shifts to the hardwood where upsets have become the norm:  

Blue Devils record a pair of victories but remain out of poll

Although Duke defeated Georgia Tech by nine on the road and quelled a second-half N.C. State comeback attempt to take care of the Wolfpack 88-80, the Blue Devils did not crack this week's poll. In each matchup, guard Grayson Allen showed off his ability to score with 27 points on 7-of-10 shooting from three against the Yellow Jackets and 28 points—including a perfect 12-of-12 from the charity stripe—Saturday against the Wolfpack.

But Duke will certainly have its chance to make noise on the national stage in the coming weeks as the Blue Devils host No. 13 Louisville and No. 7 Virginia this week before hitting the road to take on No. 9 North Carolina and face the Cardinals once again.  Read more »

Chronicle Pregame: Duke basketball vs. Louisville

Chronicle Pregame: Duke basketball vs. Louisville

The Chronicle's Ryan Hoerger and Jack Dolgin preview Monday's tilt between the Blue Devils and Cardinals—the 1,000th game in the history of Cameron Indoor Stadium and Louisville's first visit as a member of the ACC. The Blue Devils are riding a two-game winning streak into their toughest four-game stretch of the year; the Cardinals just beat No. 2 North Carolina but self-imposed a postseason ban for potential recruiting violations.

SPORTSWRAP: The Force Awakens

This week's edition of Sportswrap features freshman guard Luke Kennard, who scored 26 points off the bench Saturday against N.C. State as the Blue Devils picked up a second straight win with an 88-80 victory. Sportswrap is your one-stop-shop for the weekend that was in Duke athletics.

Hot shooting from Kennard and Allen helps Duke men's basketball hold off N.C. State: Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen combined for 54 points as the Blue Devils picked up an 88-80 win against N.C. State Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Reliance on the long ball propels Blue Devils Saturday: Live by the 3, die by the 3 has been a mantra for Duke in ACC play: The Blue Devils’ up-and-down ledger in ACC play is the result of a team that relies on the streakiest aspect of the game—shooting—and, in particular, shooting from behind the arc. Read more »

Key Three: Duke basketball vs Louisville

Key Three: Duke basketball vs Louisville

Fresh off a win against N.C. State Saturday, Duke (17-6, 6-4 in the ACC) welcomes conference leader Louisville to Cameron Indoor Stadium for its first visit since joining the ACC. The Cardinals may have just shortened their season with a self-imposed postseason ban, but it did not deter them from cruising to a 79-47 defeat a day later against Boston College. Here are the keys to the game:

Clean the glass

Louisville ranks third in conference with its 40.6 rebounds per game—a little more than two-and-a-half better than Duke, on average. The Blue Devils were outrebounded 38-29 in their win against the Wolfpack and gave up 13 offensive rebound to their opponent, a mistake that could prove fatal Monday night. Duke’s Marshall Plumlee—averaging 8.3 boards per game—will have his hands full against big man Chinanu Onuako, who edges out Plumlee averaging 8.8 rebounds per contest and is a physical presence down low.

If the Blue Devils can avoid handing their opponent second-chance points on offense, they will have a better chance closing in on Louisville’s 9.9 average rebounding margin in games this season. The Cardinals’ 48.3 percent shooting from the field puts them at third in the conference, meaning Duke will need to limit any chances at scoring as often as it can. Read more »

XFactor: Duke basketball vs Louisville

XFactor: Duke basketball vs Louisville

Winners of two straight, the Blue Devils begin the toughest stretch of their regular season Monday night against Louisville. The Cardinals have won six of their last seven—including an upset last Monday against then-No. 2 North Carolina—but the program announced Thursday it was imposing a ban on postseason play amid an alleged recruiting scandal. Before each game, the Chronicle takes a look at one player from each team who could be the difference maker in Duke’s upcoming contest.

Duke: guard Derryck Thornton

The Chatsworth, Calif., native returned to the starting lineup against Georgia Tech Tuesday night and stepped up in a big way. The point guard hit 7-of-11 field goals for 15 points—the freshman's highest total in conference play. Saturday against N.C. State Thornton shot efficiently and played strong defense against Anthony "Cat" Barber—the conference's leading scorer—during the game's first 15 minutes.

When Thornton drives, the guard is capable of penetrating opposing defenses with his slick crossover and smooth handle. Thornton needs to continue to attack the basket rather than stay on the perimeter, which will allow the team to space its sharpshooters much better.  Read more »

Road to Indy: Week 13

It was a tumultuous week for Duke, which held a five-point fourth quarter lead Monday night against No. 3 Notre Dame before going scoreless for a span of 6:29 and giving up 13 straight points in the 68-61 loss. To make matters worse, star forward Azurá Stevens tore her plantar fascia early in the contest and had to miss Thursday night’s game against Virginia, but Rebecca Greenwell and Angela Salvadores stepped up to lead the Blue Devils to a 67-52 win. But the duo could not help Duke on the road against No. 16 Miami and the Blue Devils fell 61-53.

The rest of the week was lacking in any major upsets, but the stage is set for a big week in the women’s basketball world. No. 2 South Carolina staved off tough tests from No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 18 Kentucky to remain unbeaten, but they host No. 1 Connecticut Monday night in the biggest game of the regular season. The Huskies crushed Tulane and East Carolina to extend their win streak to 59 games, but Monday’s showdown on the road may be their toughest test of the whole streak. Elsewhere in the SEC, No. 22 Florida upset the Aggies to hand them their second straight loss, but if Texas A&M can rebound to beat No. 23 Tennessee at home Sunday afternoon, the Lady Vols could be in danger of dropping out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1985.

Syracuse took down the Hurricanes 57-51 Monday in the biggest surprise of the week in ACC play, outscoring Miami 19-12 in the fourth quarter to pull away down the stretch. The Fighting Irish trounced N.C. State after their hard-fought win against the Blue Devils, and No. 13 Louisville extended its win streak to 15 games with convincing victories against Wake Forest and North Carolina. But the Cardinals roll came to an end Sunday when they were defeated by Notre Dame 66-61 in a battle for the top spot in the conference standings. 

In the Pac-12, No. 9 Oregon State held No. 8 Arizona State to 15 points in the second half to pull away from the Sun Devils in a 67-44 win and then beat No. 24 Washington on the road Friday night to finish off a strong week, but Arizona State bounced back Friday at home to hold off No. 14 UCLA and remain tied with the Beavers atop the conference standings. Read more »

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs N.C. State

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs N.C. State

The Blue Devils protected their home court for the first time in their last three attempts with an 88-80 win against N.C. State Saturday afternoon. Duke led for much of the way, held Anthony "Cat" Barber somewhat in check and relied on Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard to get the win:

Revisiting Three Keys to the Game

  • Win the rebounding battle: The Blue Devils struggled against the bigger Wolfpack team on the boards, but it certainly could have been worse. On one hand, N.C. State outrebounded Duke 38-29 overall and 13-6 on the offensive end. Forward Abdul-Malik Abu was especially destructive, gathering a game-high 17 rebounds and eight offensive boards. Still, the Wolfpack recycled those second-chance opportunities into just 10 points and failed to capitalize on their extra possessions. Duke managed 23 defensive rebounds to N.C. State's 25 and collected five offensive boards in the second half.
  • Strong defense: Credit must go to Derryck Thornton, who stabilized Cat Barber in the first half with aggressive defense. The ACC's leading scorer needed more than 14 minutes to get on the scoreboard, though when he did, he refused to be contained. The Duke defense overall was not great, as the Wolfpack canned seven of their 14 triples and scored 38 points in paint. But it was enough to put the hot-shooting Blue Devil offense in a position to win, which is exactly what happened.
  • Limit turnovers: The immediate reaction from this game would be that turnovers cost Duke dearly. With the Blue Devils leading by nine a minute into the second half, N.C. State scored four straight points, and then Thornton coughed up the ball twice facing a press defense. Both times, Cody Martin finished, with the latter basket pulling the road team within one. That being said, the Blue Devils turned the ball over just nine times overall, which was two less than N.C. State and one less than Duke's season average.

Three Key Plays

  • 10:12 remaining, first half: Allen drives to the hoop and comes down hard in pain, grabbing his right ankle. He stayed down for a few moments and went to the locker room, reflecting the delicacy of his reckless-abandon style of play. But Allen would return and finished with 20 points during the rest of the game to pace the Blue Devils. 
  • 6:07 remaining, first half: With Duke up five, Luke Kennard first hit a three to rile up the crowd. Barber responded for his first points with a triple of his own, but on the following possession, Kennard hit another 3-pointer, foreshadowing the four he would sink later in the game. Following a miss by Barber, the Blue Devils pushed in transition for a punishing, one-handed dunk for Allen that brought the house down and gave Duke a 10-point advantage. 
  • 16:10 remaining, second half: Just when N.C. State had its first lead in over 20 minutes, Kennard sinks a 3-pointer to take the advantage right back. Kennard then hit two triples over the next three possessions and scored off his own miss to key a decisive 15-4 run. 

Three Key Stats Read more »

Krzyzewski talks hospital stay after N.C. State game

Krzyzewski talks hospital stay after N.C. State game

After missing Tuesday's win at Georgia Tech due to health concerns, all was back to normal Saturday for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Krzyzewski felt ill after Duke's team meal Monday and did not travel with the team to Atlanta, instead watching the game from Duke University Hospital. Tuesday's contest was the first game since 1995 for which Krzyzewski was absent from the sidelines, but the physical distance didn't stop him from watching the game with his normal passion and fervor.

“I was on the seventh floor of the hospital, watching the game, so now I’m yelling and the nurses come in," Krzyzewski said after Saturday's 88-80 win against N.C. State. "I’m okay, but I was under the heart section because a lot of the stuff I was doing was in that. People were wondering when I yelled 'Marshall!' and 'Derryck, no...'"

Without Krzyzewski, associate head coach Jeff Capel took the reins against the Yellow Jackets, and Krzyzewski heaped praise upon Capel and the rest of his staff for how they handled the situtation. The 68-year-old head coach—who indicated he didn't anticipate any lingering health effects the rest of the season—was released from the hospital Wednesday morning and went back to working with the team that afternoon in good spirits. Read more »