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X factor: Duke basketball vs. Utah

Senior Quinn Cooks looks to display more emotion and hot-shooting as Duke takes on Utah in the Sweet 16 Friday night.
Emma Loewe / The Chronicle

Senior Quinn Cooks looks to display more emotion and hot-shooting as Duke takes on Utah in the Sweet 16 Friday night.

The Blue Devils will continue to dance Friday night, when they confront fifth-seeded Utah in the squad’s 22nd Sweet 16 appearance during head coach Mike Krzyzewski's tenure. The contest will commence Friday at 9:45 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston, with the victor advancing to the Elite Eight for a matchup against the winner of the game between 11th-seeded UCLA and second-seeded Gonzaga. Prior to each game this season, the Blue Zone will break down a player from each team who could be the key to success.

Duke: guard Quinn Cook

In his final season with the Blue Devils, senior captain Quinn Cook has put together his best year yet—recording a career-high 15.8 points per game, accompanied by career-highs in minutes, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, 3-point field goals made and free throw percentage. Cook’s 3-point prowess will be crucial as the team encounters Utah’s solid defense. The Utes boast one of the best defenses in the country, allowing just ... Read more

Football Recruiting Roundup: Blue Devils add 2 3-star prospects, eye talented in-state quarterback

Although spring practice has come to a close for Duke, the Blue Devils are working hard on building a 2016 recruiting class that is currently one of the top recruiting classes in the country. This week, we take a look at two of the program's newest commits and see who else has Duke on their radar.

Blue Devils pick up a pair of 2016 verbal commitments

After a quiet two months to start 2015, Duke's coaching staff picked up a pair of huge commitments that have strengthened the class and cemented it as one of the country's top 2016 classes this spring. The first commitment was three-star linebacker Brandon Hill, who verbally committed to the Blue Devils and turned down offers from Clemson, Georgia and Notre Dame, among others. His commitment came after he took an unofficlal visit to Durham, which clearly impacted his decision to swiftly announce his intentions to attend Duke. Here is what the Columbia, S.C., native, Read more

Recruiting Roundup: Jeter and Kennard earn Gatorade POY honors in respective states

It was a quiet week on the recruiting trail, with most of the basketball world focusing on March Madness and high school seasons coming to an end.

Luke Kennard made his final game for Franklin count, as he scored 41 points and finished second all-time on the Ohio Basketball scoring list. Kennard was also named the AP Division II state Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year in Ohio.

Duke women’s basketball Player of the Week: NCAA tournament Week 1

Azura Stevens had another big weekend to push her team into the Sweet 16.
Jesús Hidalgo / The Chronicle

Azura Stevens had another big weekend to push her team into the Sweet 16.

Azura Stevens

Statline: Friday vs. Albany: 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal in 30 minutes; Sunday vs. Mississippi State: 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, 10 rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in 40 minutes.

The good: Azura Stevens, selected to the All-ACC second team and the conference’s All-Freshman squad, had an standout performance in Duke’s win against Mississippi State 64-56 Sunday as the 6-foot-5 forward delivered a double-double playing all 40 minutes. The Raleigh, N.C., native, averaging 14.2 points per game, showed her versatility in Duke’s offense as she made one 3-pointer, three free-throws, and three layups. Also, with her 10 rebounds against Mississippi State, Stevens totaled 268 this season, setting a freshman record in the program.

Two days before, Stevens had a decent performance in Duke’s victory against Albany 54-52, as she registered 11 points... Read more

NCAA tournament recap: Week 1

With the first weekend of March Madness in the books, the Sweet 16 is now set. There was plenty of excitement through the first two rounds, including an NCAA tournament-record five games decided by a single point Thursday. The Chronicle recaps the action from the weekend, highlighting the biggest moments in each region:

South Region

Although the Blue Devils rolled to two easy victories against Robert Morris and San Diego State in the top half of the region, there were upsets aplenty in the bottom half. UCLA—despite receiving heavy criticism for the selection committee’s decision to include the Bruins in the tournament field—proved that it belonged in the frenzy of March Madness, becoming the only double-digit seed this year to make it past the Round of 32. UCLA squeaked by Larry Brown and sixth-seeded Southern Methodist 60-59 Thursday thanks to a bizarre goaltending call that gave Bruin guard Bryce Alford credit for a 3-pointer in the closing seconds, then knocked off UAB to make it to the Sweet 16... Read more

Duke basketball Player of the Week: NCAA tournament Week 1

Freshman center Jahlil Okafor earns Player of the Week honors again after a dominant first week of the NCAA tournament.
Emma Loewe / The Chronicle

Freshman center Jahlil Okafor earns Player of the Week honors again after a dominant first week of the NCAA tournament.

Jahlil Okafor

Statline: Friday vs. Robert Morris: 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, three rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in 21 minutes; Sunday vs. San Diego State: 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting, six rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one steal in 33 minutes.

The good: Jahlil Okafor, averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest, scored in double figures in all but one of the 32 games he played before March Madness. The ACC Player of the Year stretched his scoring streak this weekend, totaling 47 points in his two first NCAA tournament games. Okafor became the seventh freshman in the history of the NCAA tournament to score at least 20 points in each of his first two contests.

His 21 points in Duke’s 85-56 victory against Robert Morris—the Blue Devils’ 100th win in the NCAA tournament—Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., are the most a Blue Devil freshman has ever delivered in an NCAA tournament debut... Read more

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs. San Diego State

The Blue Devils got off to a hot start Sunday afternoon at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., jumping out to a 15-4 lead they would never relinquish on their way to a 68-49 win against San Diego State and a ticket to the Sweet 16. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor dominated the paint and Justise Winslow wreaked havoc on the defensive end, creating four turnovers and cashing in for 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Get out on the break: Duke capitalized off of seven steals, including three during a 2:30 stretch in the second half—just as the game was getting close—to run away with the contest. Winslow led all players with 11 defensive rebounds, set the pace by creating many transition opportunities and allowed Quinn Cook to spot up for open 3-pointers... Read more

HALFTIME: Duke 37, San Diego State 24

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Entering their Round of 32 tilt against one of the stingiest defenses in the country, the Blue Devils said they wanted to get off to a good start.

They did just that.

No. 1 seed Duke opened the game on a 15-4 run and built up a 37-24 halftime lead against eighth-seeded San Diego State Sunday afternoon at Time Warner Cable Arena Sunday afternoon. Despite facing a defense that allows just 53.5 points per game, the Blue Devils were able to get going on the offensive end thanks to the dominance of ACC Player of the Year Jahlil Okafor.

The Chicago native had 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the opening period and went on a personal 6-0 run in the middle of the half after the Aztecs cut Duke's lead to seven. Okafor also opened things up for swingman Justise Winslow, who had eight points, nine rebounds and four assists and helped the Blue Devils dictate tempo by pushing the ball in transition.

Duke's offense was good, but its defense might have been better... Read more

HALFTIME: Mississippi State 28, Duke 24

After a premature end to their season at home in the Round of 32 last season, the Blue Devils are doing everything in their power to prevent a repeat.

At the half, fourth-seeded Duke trails fifth-seeded Mississippi State 28-24 at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Blue Devils look to secure their spot in the Sweet 16. Freshman Azura Stevens led Duke in the first half with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Duke got out to a hot start, scoring four unanswered points before the Bulldogs’ guard Dominique Dillingham drained a three from the corner nearly three minutes into the game. The Blue Devils’ stout defense left Mississippi State scoreless from the paint in the first 10 minutes of the half, but the Bulldogs went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in that stretch.

A four minute scoring Duke drought in the middle of the half allowed Mississippi State to hang tight, but sophomore Kendall Cooper broke the dry spell with a beautiful cut to the basket on which she was fouled. She converted the three-point play and spurred momentum for a Blue Devil comeback... Read more

The key three: Duke basketball vs. San Diego State

Save a short stretch in the second half in which Robert Morris managed to cut the lead to 10, Duke had little trouble dispatching the No. 16 seed Friday night in Charlotte at Time Warner Cable Arena. In their Round of 32 matchup at 2:40 p.m. Sunday, the Blue Devils will take on eighth-seeded San Diego State, a program with six-straight NCAA tournament appearances and a coach, Steve Fisher, who took Michigan’s Fab Five to the 1992 National Championship game against Duke. Here are the three keys to the game:

Get out on the break

In the Round of 64 matchup, St. John’s outscored the Aztecs 16-2 in transition. Although the Red Storm boast a smaller, quicker lineup than San Diego State, the Blue Devils’ ability to run the floor ranks with the best in the nation. Basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy puts Duke at second in adjusted offensive efficiency, behind Wisconsin, with 122.0 points per 100 offensive possessions, and the Blue Devils have one of the best coast-to-coast finishers in the country in freshman Justise Winslow... Read more