Blue Zone


ACC Watch: Could North Carolina come away with a win in Knoxville?



Every night of the college basketball season, the Blue Zone will bring you updates on all of the important ACC matchups. 

After a wild Saturday for ACC teams, there were no more upsets on Sunday, with North Carolina coming away from Knoxville with a win: 

No. 7 North Carolina 78, No. 20 Tennessee 73

The Tar Heels came away with a strong win against a defensive-minded Volunteers team, their first of the season against ranked competition. Luke May led the way with 15 points and 8 rebounds, while Joel Berry II scored 21 points even on a rough shooting day. North Carolina went on a 9-0 run to close the game—the first it played in all year that came down to the wire, or anything to close to it. 

Boston College 84, Central Connecticut 65

Thanks to a strong team scoring effort, with five Eagles scoring in double digits, Boston College was able to overwhelm Central Connecticut's Blue Devils. While the Eagles weren't as hot from beyond the arc as when they downed Duke's Blue Devils, they smothered Central Connecticut 41-30 on the boards, including 15-9 on the offensive glass. 

Georgia Tech 79, Florida A&M 54

After falling to Wofford and Grambling in a three-game losing streak, the Yellow Jackets bounced back to dispatch the Rattlers, who are just 1-13 on the season. Guard Josh Okogie returned from suspension and injury to make his season debut, and he wasted no time getting back to his scoring ways, dropping 19 on 6-of-13 shooting. 

Check back in Monday night to see if Wake Forest can up its win streak to six games. 



ACC Watch: Three ACC contenders upset on busy Saturday



Every night of the college basketball season, the Blue Zone will bring you updates on all of the important ACC matchups. 

After a long break for final exams, 10 ACC teams got back in action Saturday—and it wasn't all pretty. N.C. State was shockingly upset, and Notre Dame and Florida State also lost in a day full of surprises. 

UNC Greensboro 81, NC State 76

In 61 previous games against ACC competition, UNC Greensboro had won twice. The Spartans made it three wins Saturday with a stunning upset in Raleigh behind a 20-3 second-half run. With 17 points, Francis Alonso led the way for the Spartans, who shot a scorching 12-of-24 from beyond the arc. UNC Greensboro also won the rebounding battle 34-28. 

No. 8 Kentucky 93, Virginia Tech 86 

Despite holding a 47-41 halftime lead, the Hokies couldn't keep it up in a tight loss to one of the nation's best teams. After shooting 7-of-12 from long distance in the first half, Virginia Tech went cold in the second half and couldn't make up for its 19 turnovers despite shooting an astounding 58.2 percent from the field. 

Indiana 80, No. 18 Notre Dame 77 (OT)

Despite 29 points and 11 rebounds from Bonzie Colson, the pesky Hoosiers found a way to down the Fighting Irish in the Crossroads Classic. Juwan Morgan scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help Indiana beat its first ranked team of the season. After being shocked by Ball State Dec. 5, Notre Dame has now been upset by an unranked team in two of its last three games despite Colson's best efforts. 

Oklahoma State 71,  No. 19 Florida State 70

Florida State picked up its first loss of the season Saturday, turning the ball over 22 times in the Orange Bowl Classic. Mitchell Solomon tapped the ball into the basket in the waning seconds to give the Cowboys the win, their first this season against ranked competition. 

Clemson 71, No. 22 Florida 69

After looking like the best team in the country for much of its contest against No. 1 Duke, the reeling Gators picked up their fourth loss in five games Saturday—all but the loss to the Blue Devils came against unranked competition. Despite holding a near-double digit halftime lead, Florida couldn't hold on against the Tigers. 

The other scores: 

Syracuse 86, Georgetown 79 (OT)

Pittsburgh 72, McNeese State 51

No. 6 Miami 59, George Washington 50 

No. 16 Virginia 80, Davidson 60 

Louisville 81, Memphis 72 

Check back Sunday to see if No. 7 North Carolina can withstand a road trip to No. 20 Tennessee. 



Duke in the NBA: Okafor finds a home in Brooklyn, Ingram continues to break out for Lakers



The Blue Zone recaps how some former Blue Devils are doing in the NBA: 

Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers

Ingram continued his recent success Dec. 7 in Philadelphia, nailing a game-winning three to cap off a 21-point night—one that was close to a triple-double. Despite scoring 18 Saturday against Charlotte, he had one of the worst performances of his career Tuesday against the Knicks, shooting 2-of-12 from the field and totaling as many points (five) as turnovers. But he rebounded against Cleveland Thursday, dropping 26 points in a tight loss. On the season, Ingram has averaged 16.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game after a disappointing rookie campaign. 

Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers

In Wednesday’s win against the Magic, Rivers suffered a concussion from an inadvertent elbow from Johnathan Simmons in the second quarter. The Clippers have not been able to catch a break, and after this injury they will play in Washington with five injured players, four of them starters, as Rivers has been ruled out. The 2012 No. 10 overall pick had been enjoying the best season yet, with a career-high 14.5 points and 33.1 minutesper game. 

Jahlil Okafor, Brooklyn Nets

After not playing since Nov. 7 while being in trade limbo, Okafor finally got out of Philadelphia. The Brooklyn Nets acquired the third-year center and Nik Stauskas for forward Trevor Booker, giving Okafor a fresh start. Since the trade Dec. 8, Okafor has yet to play for the Nets in order to get him "acclimated" to the new system.

Justise Winslow, Miami Heat

After scoring a season-high 15 points Monday against Brooklyn, Winslow exited Wednesday’s loss against the Trailblazers with a left knee strain. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, Winslow will miss less than a week. Winslow has put together a lackluster year after his season-ending arm injury last year, averaging 6.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and shooting 42.6 percent from the field.

Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

Kyrie Irving has continued to dominate the Eastern Conference en route to leading Boston to the pole position. He dropped 36 Friday against San Antonio and 33 Wednesday against Denver, part of a season in which he has averaged 24.0 points per game and shot 49.7 percent from the field and has scored more than 30 points eight times. 

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

The No. 3 overall pick’s string of great shooting performances came to an end on Monday, shooting just 1-of-7 and 0-of-4 from deep in a 108-85 loss to Chicago. In his previous two games, Tatum had combined for 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting. But he rebounded Wednesday against Denver, scoring 15 points while shooting a smooth 6-of-9 from the field. The small forward is currently shooting an impressive 50.2 percent from the field, 50.0 percent from the three-point line, and 82.6 percent from the line. His great start along with Irving’s play have made the Celtics the team to beat in the East.



Duke in the NFL: McCaffrey inks deal with 49ers, Cockrell grades well



With the regular season heading into crunch time, Blue Zone takes a look at former Blue Devils in the NFL, including Max McCaffrey, who just found a new home in San Francisco. 

Max McCaffrey, WR, San Francisco 49ers

After bouncing around from practice squads and the occasional active roster across the league, McCaffrey has found a more stable home in San Francisco with the 49ers, inking a two-year deal to play on their active roster from Green Bay's practice squad. McCaffrey has not seen much time on the field in his career, but made his first NFL reception this year with the Jaguars, a four yard catch against the Steelers. McCaffrey emerged as a consistent target in his final three years at Duke from 2013 to 2015, catching a combined 115 passes for 1,310 yards.   

Vincent Rey, LB Cincinnati Bengals

After missing the last two games with a hamstring injury, Rey was back in the lineup Sunday against the Bears. Rey was back to his normal self, contributing six total tackles in the Bengals' loss. As a whole, Cincinnati’s defense put up a very poor performance, giving up 33 points at home to a below-average Bears' offense led by rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. 

Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington 

After a string of good performances, Crowder struggled in Washington’s 30-13 loss on Sunday against the Chargers. Crowder, who two weeks earlier had seven receptions for 141 yards against the Giants and seemed to be breaking out of an early season slump, caught just three balls for 34 yards. Crowder and Washington hope to bounce back next week when they face off with Arizona. 

Ross Cockrell, CB, New York Giants 

Although Dak Prescott and Dallas tore up the Giants' secondary Sunday for 332 yards and three touchdowns, Cockrell wasn't the reason. The corner received a strong 86.3 overall grade according to Pro Football Focus, the best on the team. He defended two passes and made four tackles on the day. New York will face the tough task of bouncing back Sunday at home against an 11-2 Eagles team, albeit one without Carson Wentz under center.  

Thomas Hennessy, LS, New York Jets

Hennessy had to exit Sunday's game against Denver early to undergo concussion protocol and was still limited in practice Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. New York's struggles continued Sunday, as quarterback Josh McCown broke his hand in a 23-0 loss to the Broncos. Bryce Petty will be under center next week when the Jets take on New Orleans Sunday. 



ACC Watch: Boston College avoids post-Duke victory hangover



Every night of the college basketball season, the Blue Zone will bring you updates on all of the important ACC matchups. In the last action involving ACC teams until Saturday, Boston College showed no signs of a hangover after shocking No. 1 Duke Saturday. 

Boston College 81, Columbia 66

Ky Bowman and the Eagles continued to shoot the three ball well after making a whopping 15-of-26 against Duke, finishing 44 percent from beyond the arc in an easy win against the Lions. Jerome Robinson led the way with 21 points while Bowman had his second straight double-double, finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds and shooting 3-of-7 from long range. Before Saturday's game against the Blue Devils, the Eagles were a woeful 282nd in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage. 


Check back in Saturday for the latest on a huge slate of ACC games, including Virginia Tech taking on No. 8 Kentucky and Clemson taking on No. 22 Florida. 



ACC Watch: Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State coast to easy wins



Every night of the college basketball season, the Blue Zone will bring you updates on all of the important ACC matchups. Although ACC play doesn't continue until late December, several teams cruised to easy wins Sunday and Monday, including Louisville in a rout of Bryant. 

Louisville 102, Bryant 59

Five players finished with double-digits, including guard Quentin Snider and forwards Deng Adel and Anas Mahoud all with 17 points, as the Cardinals romped the woeful Bulldogs at home in the Gotham Classic. The Cardinals have performed well despite losing head coach Rick Pitino, after the program became embroiled in scandal, sitting at 7-2 with a win against Indiana and tight losses to just now-No. 15 Seton Hall and now-No. 17 Purdue. 

The other scores (from Sunday): 

Florida State 73, Tulane 52

Virginia Tech 93, Maryland Eastern Shore 40


Check back in tomorrow to see if Boston College can avoid a hangover from its upset of Duke against lowly Columbia. 



The Devil's in the details: Bagley takes just one shot inside the arc in second half against Boston College



They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers. 

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key numbers from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside the Blue Devil men's basketball’s up and down week, women’s basketball’s dominance, and two impressive individual performances in other sports.

4

In Duke’s stunning 89-84 loss against unranked Boston College Saturday, Marvin Bagley III attempted just four shots in the second half after scoring 10 points in the first 12 minutes of the contest. Of those four shots, only one was inside the arc, and Bagley scored just five points the rest of the game. As a result, the Blue Devils’ most potent offensive weapon was neutralized, and Duke suffered its first loss of the season.

Find out the whole story—Marvin Bagley III silenced in second half of loss at Boston College 

8

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Joe Giles-Harris became Duke’s eighth player in the David Cutcliffe era to be named an All-American by the Walter Camp Foundation, earning second-team honors. Giles-Harris has racked up 117 tackles—15 of those for loss—4.5 sacks, and one interception heading into the Blue Devils’ bowl game against Northern Illinois.

Find out the whole story—Duke football linebacker Joe Giles-Harris named Walter Camp Foundation All-American

1997

Although the victory on Tuesday would come to be overshadowed by their loss to Boston College Saturday, the Blue Devils obliterated St. Francis 124-67, their highest point total since 1997. Duke came out hot and did not take its foot off the gas pedal, scoring 71 first half points, and finished with 52 points in the paint. Per usual,  Bagley led the charge, but freshman walk-on guard Mike Buckmire stole the show with an impressive and-one to cap off the night.

Find out the whole story—Duke men’s basketball scores most points since 1997 in rout of St. Francis 

30

Redshirt senior guard Lexie Brown scored as many points as Duke’s opponent—Winthrop—registered Sunday afternoon. In an easy 101-30 victory, Brown had little issue against the Eagles, also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out six assists. With fellow backcourt mate Rebecca Greenwell sidelined with knee pain, Brown and the rest of the Blue Devils stepped their game up, as all 10 players that entered the game scored.

Find out the whole story—Lexie Brown matches Winthrop’s offense by herself in Duke women’s basketball rout

1

Last weekend, redshirt senior Jacob Kasper became the first Blue Devil to ever finish in the top-three individually at the Cliff Keen Open. Kasper faced some tough competition with the second and fourth-ranked heavyweights in the nation, but he battled to finish 6-1 in Las Vegas. Overall, Duke improved on its performance from last year, finishing just outside the top half of the field on the strength of Kasper’s performance.

Find out the whole story—Jacob Kasper lands on podium for Duke wrestling with third-place finish in Las Vegas



Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke falls to No. 4, Arizona State jumps to No. 5 after beating Kansas



Duke wasn’t the only team to be upset this week. Half of the top-10 lost, including Kansas, Florida, Texas A&M and Notre Dame, leading to big shakeups in the AP poll:

Duke falls from number one

After receiving all 65 first place votes a week ago, the Blue Devils fell to No. 4 after losing to Boston College 89-84 in Chestnut Hill on Saturday. Villanova jumped past Michigan State to take the top spot in the poll. Duke went cold from beyond the arc, shooting 8-for-30 while Boston College shot a scorching 15-for-26 from deep behind Ky Bowman's 30 points. After scoring 10 points in the first 12 minutes, Marvin Bagley III disappeared from the offense, scoring only five points the rest of the game and taking just one shot inside the arc. One bright spot for Duke over the past two games has been Gary Trent Jr., who made six of Duke’s eight three pointers and scored 25 points against the Eagles. 

Florida loses to two unranked teams and tanks to No. 22

When hot from beyond the arc, Florida can play with anyone, as the Blue Devils learned in the PK80 Championship game. But when they get cold, they are vulnerable to upsets. Florida’s bad week started with a 83-66 loss to in-state rival Florida State in which it shot only 24 percent from three. The Gators couldn’t keep up with a Florida State team that caused 17 turnovers and outrebounded them by 17. Their next game, against Loyola-Chicago, was supposed to be a bounce-back game. But Florida was upset again, this time 65-59. No Gator scored more than 10 points and they shot an ugly 10.5 percent from beyond the arc. Despite, Florida did pick up one win this week against now-No. 25 Cincinnati—a win that likely kept them from falling out of the AP poll altogether. 

Kansas shocked at home by two Pac-12 teams, tumbles to No. 13

Allen Fieldhouse is one of toughest places to play in college basketball, but Kansas looked to have no home court advantage this week. The now-No. 13 Jayhawks’ bad week started with stunning 74-65 loss to unranked Washington, a game that wasn’t even that close down the stretch. The Huskies kept a 10-point lead into the final five minutes, and Kansas didn’t get closer than that. Before this week, as the No. 2 team in the country, Kansas looked to be one of the biggest threats to the Blue Devils, outscoring opponents by an NCCA-best 30.6 points per game. Their week ended with a loss to Arizona State, a dangerous team that pulled away from the Jayhawks midway through the through the second half to steal a 95-85 win on the road.  

Bobby Hurley and Arizona State into the top-five, still undefeated

Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State Sun Devils have been arguably the most surprising team in college basketball this season. The former Duke star’s team has exceed all expectations and beaten teams comfortably, including a 16-point win against then-No. 16 Xavier in which it dropped 102 points. Hurley collected another resume-building win against then-No. 2 Kansas on Sunday. Tre Holder played hero for Arizona State, scoring 29 points and registering 7 assists to spark a second half comeback. Going into conference play, Arizona State looks to be the favorite in the Pac-12 and a fixture in future AP polls.

———

COMPLETE RANKINGS: 

1. Villanova

2. Michigan State

3. Wichita State

4. Duke

5. Arizona State

6. Miami

7. North Carolina

8. Kentucky

9. Texas A&M

10. Xavier

11. West Virginia

12. Gonzaga

13. Kansas

14. TCU

15. Seton Hall

16. Virginia

17. Purdue

18. Notre Dame

19. Florida State

20. Tennessee

21.  Baylor

22. Florida

23. Arizona

24. Texas Tech

25.  Cincinnati 



ACC Watch: Boston College shocks Duke, Louisville tops Indiana



Every night of the college basketball season, the Blue Zone will bring you updates on all of the important ACC matchups. After a lull in the schedule, Boston College opened ACC play with a huge upset of No. 1 Duke at the Conte Forum, among a host of contests involving ACC teams: 

Boston College 89, No. 1 Duke 84

Despite only winning two conference games in the past two years, the Eagles were able to upset the top-ranked Blue Devils behind an unreal 15-of-26 outing from beyond the arc. Ky Bowman led the way with 30 points, while Jerome Robinson and Jordan Chatman combined to add 46. Despite a hot start early in the paint, Marvin Bagley III took just one 2-pointer and four total shots in the second half against the Eagles. 


Louisville 71, Indiana 62

The Cardinals needed to pull away late, but they did enough to down the Hoosiers, led by 10 points and 14 rebounds from junior forward Ray Spalding. Louisville limited the Hoosiers to shoot just 5-of-23 from beyond the arc. 

No. 9 Notre Dame 92, Delaware 69

Led by 19 points from Bonzie Colson and 24 on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc from Matt Farrell, Notre Dame moved to 8-2 with an easy win against the Blue Hens. 


The other scores: 

No. 18 West Virginia 69, Pittsburgh 60

North Carolina State 88, University of Missouri-Kansas City 69

Syracuse 72, Colgate 58

Clemson 81, Samford 59



Check back in tomorrow to see if Florida State can stay undefeated. 



Beyond the arc: Three takeaways from Duke's first loss of the year against Boston College



Duke got off to another slow start and this time they were not able to dig themselves out of the hole, falling 89-84 to Boston College. Freshman Gary Trent Jr. scored a career high 25 points, but it was not enough as the Eagles were red hot from the field, hitting 57.7% of their three point attempts. 

Three Key Takeaways

1.) No Comeback this Time 

After overcoming second-half deficits against Portland State, Texas, Florida and Indiana, it looked like Duke was up to their old tricks the game after a Gary Trent Jr. three put the Blue Devils up 79-75 with 3:33 to play. However, Duke ceded the lead after some questionable decision making from its freshman and sloppy play down the stretch. After seemingly possessing an uncanny ability to play as a cohesive team during crunch time in its previous games, the young squad broke down and left the coaching staff with many problems to solve. 

2.) Rookie Decision Making

Although Marvin Bagley III has been consistently brilliant throughout the season, his second half play against Boston College left much to be desired. After dominating the start of the contest with 10 points in 12 minutes, the freshman only took four shots from the field in the second half – three of which came from behind the arc. For a big man who has been unstoppable for most of the season and has typically gone to his “bread-and-butter” in the paint, such a shot distribution is puzzling. Trevon Duval's play when the Blue Devils are in a back-and-forth game has also been an issue. He has often reverted to his high school tendencies of flying up the court and trying to get to the rim by himself or trying to make a flashy play – a behind the back pass to Wendell Carter Jr when a simple dump off would have worked comes to mind. Although it may have worked in high school, college is a completely different ballgame and Duval has yet to display consistently smart decision making.

3.) Defense Needs Work

If this team has any hopes of winning the national title, Duke must improve on defense. The squad is now 71st in the country in defensive efficiency according to statistician Ken Pomeroy – allowing 98.1 points-per-100 possessions. Since 2010, every national champion has finished in the top-15 of Pomeroy’s end of the season defensive efficiency rankings. The Blue Devils had lapses in communication and were completely gutted on the perimeter against the Eagles as Boston College lit up the scoreboard from beyond the arc. More concerning is that neither man-to-man nor zone seem to be consistently working and the coaching staff has been often switching between the two trying to find an answer.

Three Key Stats

1.) 57.7%

While the snow fell outside the arena in Boston, it was raining threes inside Conte Forum. Boston College shot an astounding 57.7% from deep, knocking down both wide-open looks and contested shots. In the first half, the Eagles converted on an astounding 68.8% of their attempts, allowing them to race to a seven-point halftime lead. Jerome Robinson was perfect from downtown on five shots en route to 24 points while Jordan Chatman and Ky Bowman combined for seven triples and 52 points. This was a very out of character performance from Boston College, who are shooting only 34.8% from three point land on the season. 

2.) 35 Rebounds

For the first time this season, Duke was out-rebounded, with Boston College pulling down 35 boards compared to the Blue Devils 34. Bowman had 10 rebounds to lead the Eagles but it was a team effort on the glass with all five starters collecting four or more rebounds. The Blue Devils entered the game leading the country with 46.45 rebounds per game, but were held significantly beneath their season average, which certainly had an impact on the final score. 

3.) 11.1%

While Boston College seemingly could not miss from deep, the same could not be said for Grayson Allen, who only connected on one of his nine attempts. Although he had many open looks, including his classic pump-fake step back three, Allen could not seem to buy a bucket. The poor shooting performance could have been attributed to the shiner he received courtesy of a Javin DeLaurier knee, but hampered the Blue Devils who struggled to make shots from outside. 

Three Key Plays

1.) Jerome Robinson Back-to-Back Threes, 1:20 remaining in the second half

With the Blue Devils up four with 3:33 left to play, Robinson pulled down an ill-advised Duval three and converted from deep to cut the deficit to one with 2:45 left to play. Two possessions later, a Trent turnover gave the ball back to the Eagles, and Robinson made the freshman pay by hitting another three to give them the lead for good with 1:20 left.

2.) Trevon Duval’s Foul, 37 seconds remaining in the second half

With Duke down two and the shot clock down the six, Duval was called for a foul with 37 seconds remaining for grabbing an opponent’s jersey. Instead of being an ordinary foul and a one-and-one for Boston College, the foul was ruled a flagrant-one, giving the Eagles two-shots and the ball, ultimately putting the nail-in-the-coffin for the Blue Devils and their undefeated season. 

3.) Free Throws Down the Stretch

The only way Duke was going to get back into the game was if Boston College missed its free throws. Unfortunately, the Eagles made all six of their free throws in the last 17 seconds, sealing the deal.

Looking Forward

Winning usually masks problems and this was certainly the case thus far in the season. The Blue Devils always found a way to win so their defensive lapses and poor decision-making were overlooked by the W on the record books. However, the loss is certainly a slap-in-the-face for the young squad and they will have to use the game as a learning lesson. With 11 days before their next game, there are plenty of opportunities to improve and come out a more cohesive team.