Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs. Syracuse

No. 4 Duke used a staunch defensive effort to knock off Syracuse 73-54 Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After letting Virginia Tech shoot almost 70 percent in the first half of Wednesday's game, the Blue Devils came out aggressive on the defensive end Saturday, holding the Orange to just 30.6 percent shooting en route to their ninth straight win:

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Figure out how to stop pick-and-rolls involving Jahlil Okafor: The Orange opted to go at Okafor in the post and the freshman responded with arguably his best defensive game of the season. The Chicago native forced Syracuse's Rakeem Christmas to struggle for much of the night and held him to just 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor. Okafor blocked shot on one of Christmas' drives to the basket was a welcome sign for the Blue Devils—who will need the freshman to defend well consistently to advance deep in postseason play... Read more

HALFTIME: Duke 34, Syracuse 25

In the final installment of the Duke-Syracuse rivalry this season, the No. 4 Blue Devils lead 34-25 at the half behind 15 points from freshman forward Justise Winslow at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke shot 44 percent from the floor in the opening half, but Orange head coach Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone still managed to keep the game close with nine forced turnovers. However, Winslow's ability to slash through the zone and find open shooters on the outside exposed a significant flaw in the Orange defense that will send Boeheim back to the drawing board during the break.

After a scoreless first minute, the Blue Devils blew the game open, taking a 4-0 lead in the opening minutes of the half before watching Syracuse go on a 9-2 run, thanks to seven early points from forward Tyler Roberson, who finished the half with nine points and six rebounds in 18 minutes.

Duke took a brief lead when Amile Jefferson provided a spark off the bench with a slam to give 10-9 lead, igniting the crowd, which was engaged for much of the tight first half of play... Read more

ESPN announces that Dick Vitale will again not call Duke-North Carolina

For the first time in more than 35 years, Dick Vitale did not call the Tobacco Road Rivalry Feb. 18. And despite the charismatic broadcaster's requests on social media, he will once again not be in the broadcast booth when Duke and North Carolina meet at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill next Saturday.

According to several reports, ESPN announced via press release Saturday afternoon that Vitale will once again not be calling the storied rivalry, with play-by-play man Dan Shulman and analyst and former Blue Devil Jay Bilas getting the nod again. Shannon Spake will be the sideline reporter for the contest, which will also be the regular season finale for both teams... Read more

2015 commit Chase Jeter, 2016 SF prospect Jayson Tatum visit for Duke-Syracuse

They weren't able to make it to Durham for Duke-North Carolina, but Chase Jeter and Jayson Tatum should still be in for a treat Saturday night.

The highly touted duo will be at Cameron Indoor Stadium for No. 4 Duke's contest against Syracuse at 7 p.m. to witness one of the ACC's blooming young rivalries. The Blue Devils and Orange have played three hotly-contested games in their first three battles as conference foes.

Jeter is one of two Duke commits in the class of 2015 and is fresh off his fourth state championship and Tatum is the top small forward in the class of 2016 and is considering becoming a Blue Devil in the future.

The key three: Duke basketball vs. Syracuse

Duke is coming off a close overtime win against Virginia Tech and will need to perform at a much higher level to take down new rival Syracuse. Since the Orange entered the ACC last season, the Blue Devils have formed a new rivalry with Jim Boeheim’s squad, creating three classics in a row. Here are three keys if Duke wants to extend its winning streak to nine games:

Figure out how to stop pick-and-rolls involving Jahlil Okafor

When the dominant freshman center turned his ankle against North Carolina Feb. 18, all of Cameron Indoor Stadium fell silent. The 6-foot-11 freshman missed Duke’s next game against Clemson and wasn’t missed considering the Blue Devils won that contest by 22 points. In Duke’s next contest against Virginia Tech, Okafor put up a career-high 30 points, with his performance against the Hokies showing that a bad ankle can’t limit his offensive prowess... Read more

X factor: Duke basketball vs. Syracuse

Swingman Justise Winslow will look to continue his recent tear Saturday against a long Syracuse front-line.
Jesús Hidalgo / The Chronicle

Swingman Justise Winslow will look to continue his recent tear Saturday against a long Syracuse front-line.

No. 4 Duke (25-3, 12-3 in the ACC) welcomes Syracuse (18-10, 9-6) to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the second time since its introduction to the ACC. The contest tips off Saturday at 7 p.m. with the Orange seeking revenge from its earlier season loss to the Blue Devils Feb. 14, as well as last season's loss in Cameron featuring head coach Jim Boeheim's ejection from the game. Before every game this season, the Blue Zone will select a player on both teams that could make a difference for their respective squads.

Duke: forward Justise Winslow

Winslow not only made big plays in the first matchup between the two teams, but is also fresh off a pair of impressive performances against Clemson and Virginia Tech and has scored in double figures in nine straight games, the longest such streak of his career. The freshman shot 57 percent or better in each of his last three outings and has the ability to control tempo after pulling down rebounds, which is why his 8.5 rebounds per game average his last four contests has been so crucial... Read more

Duke in the NBA: Singler, Plumlee getting comfortable with new teams

The NBA trade deadline was a chaotic time for NBA teams, with more than eight percent of players on rosters and more than $225 million in contracts uprooted as teams try to position themselves for postseason runs:

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: Last year’s All-Star Game MVP, Irving relinquished the honor to Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook this year, who led the West to victory against Irving’s East squad. Irving also competed in the 3-point contest but was unable to defend his title.

Irving jumped right back into action with the Cavaliers following the All-Star break, leading Cleveland to four straight wins by averaging 21.3 points and playing off LeBron James nicely. Led by James' 42 points, the Cavaliers knocked off Western Conference power Golden State 110-99 and Irving also chipped in 24 points... Read more

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs. Virginia Tech

It took longer than expected, but thanks to a career day from freshman center Jahlil Okafor, the No. 4 Blue Devils escaped Blacksburg, Va., with a hard-fought 91-86 overtime win against Virginia Tech Wednesday night. Okafor and senior captain Quinn Cook combined for 56 points at Cassell Coliseum to lead Duke to its eighth straight win.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Continue to score in transition: The box score says the Blue Devils only got 13 fastbreak points, but once again, Duke was at its best when it was able to get ahead of the defense. The Blue Devils used their transition game to jump out to a 15-4 lead and an 8-0 run in 1:15 in the middle of the second half to turn a six-point deficit into a two-point lead and get right back in the game... Read more

HALFTIME: Virginia Tech 39, Duke 37

BLACKSBURG, Va.—Jahlil Okafor made his return to the court Wednesday night, but the Blue Devils are getting all they can handle from the Hokies.

No. 4 Duke trails Virginia Tech 39-37 at Cassell Coliseum. Six straight points from sophomore Devin Wilson late in the half brought the Hokies all the way back from a 15-4 deficit to grab the lead after the Blue Devils led for most of the first half.

In the opening minutes, the Blue Devils looked to be well on their way to eighth straight win against the Hokies. Virginia Tech grabbed an early 4-2 lead, but Duke rattled off the next 13 points to claim control.

After scoring 17 first-half points Saturday against Clemson, Winslow came out of the gates firing again in Blacksburg. The Houston native got a couple of deflections, hit a 3-pointer and then finished a fast break with a dunk to stake the Blue Devils to a 9-4 lead by the first media timeout. Winslow combined with classmates Okafor and Tyus Jones to score 18 of Duke's first 24 points... Read more

The key three: Duke basketball vs. Virginia Tech

In search of their eighth consecutive win, the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils head north to take on a struggling Virginia Tech team. Tip-off is at 9:00 pm at Cassell Coliseum. Here are three keys to tonight’s game:

Continue to score in transition

Saturday against Clemson, Duke’s half court offense was not nearly as effective as it had been in weeks prior. But despite not having Jahlil Okafor to dominate in the post and perimeter players missing ten of their first 11 3-point attempts, the Blue Devils went on a number of offensive runs thanks to their exceptional transition offense. Led by Quinn Cook, the Blue Devils scored 19 fast break points and were able to score in bunches. In order to beat Virginia Tech on the road, Duke must continue to get ahead of the defense immediately after securing rebounds by filling the lanes and finishing drives. Not only will strong transition play lead to easy buckets, but it will quiet the crowd in a notoriously hostile environment, especially with Okafor's status still uncertain... Read more