X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. South Carolina

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. South Carolina

After an 87-65 victory against Troy Friday, the Blue Devils will play for their third straight Sweet 16 appearance Sunday night at about 8:40 against No. 7 seed South Carolina in Greenville, S.C. 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

With Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard entrenched as the Blue Devils’ top two scorers, all eyes turn to Grayson Allen to see which iteration of the junior will appear Sunday night given his up-and-down season. 

If it is the fiery—yet composed—attacker and sharpshooter that has shown up in key games like Duke’s first round game Friday night, Mike Krzyzewski’s team should be in good hands. If it is the easily-agitated and passive Allen, though, it could bode poorly for the Blue Devils as they face a South Carolina team that is one of the nation’s best at forcing turnovers. The Jacksonville, Fla., native will need to be both a consistent scorer and an alert ball handler to help lead his team to the Sweet 16. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. South Carolina

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. South Carolina

The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Mitchell Gladstone reflected on Duke's 87-65 win against Troy in its NCAA tournament opener and looked ahead to Sunday's second-round matchup against No. 7 seed South Carolina, which beat Marquette 93-73 Friday night in Greenville, S.C.

0:34—Breaking down Jayson Tatum's double-double in his NCAA tournament debut

1:32—Whether Tatum and Luke Kennard can shoot more efficiently in the second round

2:09—Taking a closer look at SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell and Duke's Round of 32 opponent Read more »

Halftime: Duke 52, Troy 38

GREENVILLE, S.C.—After Duke needed to win four grueling games on consecutive days to bring an ACC title back to Durham, the Blue Devils' quest for a sixth NCAA tournament title started on a much simpler note.

But some defensive lapses and hot shooting from Troy mean Duke will still have to put in some work in the second half to survive and advance. 

At the half, No. 2 Duke holds a 52-38 advantage against 15th-seeded Troy in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. The Blue Devils have used a balanced offensive attack and are shooting 10-of-17 from long distance led by 11 points apiece from Matt Jones and Grayson Allen. 

Duke began the contest in a fullcourt 2-2-1 trap—rattling the Trojans into five turnovers before the under-16 minute media timeout as the Blue Devils quickly jumped out to a 16-4 lead. Five Duke players have already knocked down at least one 3-pointer and the Blue Devils have 16 points off turnovers so far. Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Troy

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Troy

The second-seeded Blue Devils' road to Phoenix for the Final Four begins Friday in Greenville, S.C., against No. 15 seed Troy. With Duke coming off a stunning ACC championship run last week, here are three keys for the Blue Devils to avoid what would be an equally shocking upset loss.

Defend the 3-point line

Most upsets stem at least in part from hot 3-point shooting, and the Trojans have the weapons from the perimeter to make things interesting Friday night. Junior guard Wesley Person shoots 40.0 percent from long range and exploded for 39 points with 10 made triples in a game against UT Arlington earlier this year.

Duke is sixth in the nation in 3-point defense, though, holding opponents to just 29.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc this year. Guards Frank Jackson and Matt Jones have both been excellent perimeter defenders capable of running opposing shooters off the 3-point line, and they will need to contribute more of the same against Person to keep Troy's offense in check.

Balanced scoring

The Blue Devils probably will not need all of their perimeter weapons to be clicking to get past the Trojans, but it would help to build on their momentum from last week's ACC tournament, when the team came together consistently for the first time all season. Jayson Tatum, Grayson Allen, Frank Jackson and Luke Kennard each made at least four shots from the field just twice in the regular season, but they replicated the feat in the last two games of the tournament against North Carolina and Notre Dame. Read more »

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Troy

Chronicle pregame: Duke men's basketball vs. Troy

With the Blue Devils set to open NCAA tournament play Friday night against Troy in Greenville, S.C., The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Mitchell Gladstone break down what they need to do to advance to the second round of the tournament for the third straight year.

0:26—What Duke needs to watch out for from a Troy team that can score the ball on offense

1:50—Why Jayson Tatum and Amile Jefferson could take advantage of their size advantages to have big games Friday Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Troy

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Troy

The second-seeded Blue Devils are heavily favored in their NCAA tournament opener against No. 15 seed Troy, but Duke has learned not to take any opponents lightly in March after falling victim to two shocking first-round upsets in the last five years. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game:

Duke: Guard Matt Jones

Jones made the biggest shot of Duke's season with a triple from the wing in the final minute of the ACC championship last Saturday against Notre Dame, but the senior co-captain has made much more of an impact on the defensive end throughout his career. Usually matched up against opponents' top scoring threats, Jones' next assignment will likely be Troy's Jordon Varnado, who averages 16.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. 

As a 6-foot-6 post player who does most of his scoring around the basket and crashes the glass effectively, Varnado could be just the type of player Jones matches up well with, like Michigan State's Miles Bridges or Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame earlier this year. If Jones can shut Varnado down, the Blue Devils will have size advantages at almost every other position on the court and should be able to contain the Trojans. A 3-pointer or two from Jones wouldn't hurt either, of course, as the senior has been cold all year but could be needed to space the floor offensively later in the tournament. Read more »

2018 4-star defensive lineman Tahj Rice commits to Duke with 'superhero' video

2018 4-star defensive lineman Tahj Rice commits to Duke with 'superhero' video

Duke is often thought of as the villain—particularly when it comes to basketball, with hated Blue Devil figures such as Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick and, most recently, Grayson Allen.

But for the second time in less than five months, Duke picked up another one of the "good guys."

After 2017 five-star basketball recruit Wendell Carter posted a James Bond-themed video to announce his commitment to the Blue Devils in November, Duke football recruit Tahj Rice announced that he would be joining head coach David Cutcliffe's program with his unique superhero-themed video announcement Tuesday. 

The four-star defensive tackle, according to Scout.com, is currently a junior at Waggener Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky., and will join the Blue Devils for the 2018 season. Rice, at 6-foot-3 and 302 pounds, will be a welcome presence after Duke dismissed sophomore defensive linemen Marquies Price and Brandon Boyce last month. Read more »

This week in Duke history: Duke breaks record for world's largest pillow fight prior to men's basketball game vs. North Carolina

This week in Duke history: Duke breaks record for world's largest pillow fight prior to men's basketball game vs. North Carolina

It was war. Adrenaline was surely released, there were elbows flying and of course, it was all in the name of competition.

As a prelude to its home game against North Carolina in 2004—which Donald Trump attended—and as response to the University of Warwick in England setting the record a week prior, Duke organized what was then the largest pillow fight ever according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Pillow Fight by thedukechronicle on Scribd

On the Main West Quadrangle at night, 1,076 students gathered and for a minute swatted pillows at one another. The organizers had to set up multiple cameras and witnesses to prove to the Guinness Book of World Records what the total was, and only bed pillows were counted, no "couch cushions." Read more »

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Notre Dame

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Notre Dame

The fifth-seeded Blue Devils rallied from an eight-point deficit to defeat the third-seeded Fighting Irish 75-69 at the Barclays Center in New York Saturday and win their first ACC championship since 2011. A clutch performance from Jayson Tatum and late 3-pointer by Matt Jones lifted Duke to another come-from-behind victory and its fourth win in four days.

Revisiting the three keys to the game: 

  • Body up Bonzie: As has been the case for much of the last few years, the Blue Devils struggled to shut down Colson. Playing in a unique tweener position as almost a small-ball center, Colson was a difficult matchup for Duke big men Harry Giles and Amile Jefferson, racking up 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting. The only thing that could slow the junior was a brief ankle injury and mishap with a contact lens late in the second half.
  • Shooters Shoot: The Blue Devils did not shoot particularly well from the 3-point line, finishing just 5-of-15 from deep. But Duke forced Notre Dame to take tough perimeter jumpers as well, and the Fighting Irish shot just 6-of-25 from distance. It was ultimately the midrange and drive-and-kick game that propelled the Blue Devils to victory, rather than the hot 3-point shooting that had carried the team through the earlier rounds of the tournament.
  • Making History: Although Duke showed some signs of fatigue early in the second half as Notre Dame nudged its way back into the game, the Blue Devils fought hard deep into the second half. Perhaps no better play epitomized Duke's ability to dig deep and make big plays when needed than a coast-to-coast finish by Tatum following a block on Steve Vasturia.

Three key stats: 

  • The Blue Devils shoot 60.8 percent from the field: Unlike its usual perimeter-oriented approach, Duke was able to take advantage of size mismatches on the interior to get easy buckets. The Blue Devils finished with a 44-32 advantage in points in the paint, and Duke refused to settle for perimeter jumpers and continued to attack the basket down the stretch of the game. 
  • The Fighting Irish hit only six triples: Despite coming into the game as one of the best shooting teams in the nation, Notre Dame had trouble penetrating against the Blue Devil defense with only Colson capable of scoring consistently. As a result, the Fighting Irish resorted to jacking up contested jumpers, which played into Duke's hands. Guards V.J. Beachem, Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia combined to shoot just 3-of-17 from beyond the arc and missed their fair share of open looks. 
  • Duke turns it over 12 times: Despite shooting much better than Notre Dame throughout the first half, the Blue Devils' carelessness with the ball kept the Fighting Irish in the game. Notre Dame scored 20 points off a dozen Duke turnovers, and a series of giveaways after halftime propelled the Fighting Irish to their first lead of the game. The Blue Devils will have to improve in this category if they hope to win a national title. 

Three key plays Read more »