Highlights from Amile Jefferson, Quinn Cook player press conferences Friday ahead of Duke-St. John's

Captain Amile Jefferson met with the media and gave his thoughts about No. 5 Duke's upcoming matchup with St. John's.
Eric Lin / The Chronicle

Captain Amile Jefferson met with the media and gave his thoughts about No. 5 Duke's upcoming matchup with St. John's.

Blue Devil captains Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson met with the media Friday after practice ahead of Sunday's tilt against St. John's at Madison Square Garden in New York. The 2 p.m. contest against the Red Storm is a departure from the ACC slate for the No. 5 Blue Devils, and also serves as Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski's first chance to earn his 1,000th career win. Here are the highlights from Friday's player press conferences:

Junior forward Amile Jefferson

On any added pressures of Sunday's game: "For our guys, this is the most important game—we're trying to get win No. 17. We're playing in the Garden, all our guys love playing in the Garden. It's kind of like our second gym.... It's going to be an amazing moment if we can get this win for Coach. Our guys have the drive and the passion to win this game because we need it, and we need every game. This is our biggest game because it's our next game... Read more

Duke in the NBA: Rivers makes history as Blue Devils continue putting up big numbers across the league

With three weeks left until the All-Star break, teams are doing their best to position themselves for the playoffs, either by stringing together wins or making transactions. Four former Duke standouts are on teams battling for the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference and three former Blue Devils are in the top 12 in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage:

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James’ crew seemed to be back in business after beating the Chicago Bulls 108-94 Monday night. Five Cavaliers scored double digits and Irving was one of them. The 6-foot-3 point guard had a solid performance with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting, 12 assists and just one turnover.

Cleveland’s fourth straight win came Wednesday night 106-92 against the Utah Jazz and was the team's fourth straight. Irving scored 18 points again on 8-of-13 shooting and finished with five steals, four assists and three rebounds... Read more

Duke football Recruiting Roundup: Cutcliffe and company bounce back in 2015 class as signing day approaches

With signing day less than a month away, we take a look at if Duke's 2015 recruiting can become stronger with a few final commitments. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils' 2016 class continues to impress and can make a statement if it can receive the verbal commitments of a few top players.

2015 Class gets a boost with commitments from three-star duo

After a pair of decommitments before Christmas dealt a major blow to the 2015 class, David Cutcliffe and his staff rebounded, securing the commitment of three-star defensive back Jeremy McDuffie. The Snellville, Ga. native, is ranked as the 49th-best cornerback in the nation and the 74th-best overall player in the state of Georgia by ESPN... Read more

College Gameday to attend prime-time Duke-Virginia showdown next Saturday

The Blue Devils won a major ACC showdown on the road Saturday at then-No. 6 Louisville. They'll get a shot to win another one in primetime Jan. 30.

The tip time for No. 5 Duke's battle at No. 2 and undefeated Virginia has been set for 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. For the first time this season, the Blue Devils will play in a game covered by ESPN's College Gameday presented by State Farm, though Duke is no stranger to high-profile road games after knocking off then-No. 2 Wisconsin in Madison Dec. 3.

College Gameday will start at 10 a.m. on ESPNU before moving to ESPN for another hour of coverage starting at 11 a.m. The pregame show will begin at 6 p.m... Read more

Jela Duncan returns to Duke football, re-enrolls for spring semester

Eric Lin / The Chronicle

Running back Jela Duncan is back with the Blue Devils after sitting out the 2014 season serving a one-year suspension from the University.

Duncan has re-enrolled at Duke for the spring semester and will have two years of NCAA eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2015 season.

A native of Charlotte, the 5-foot-10 tailback led the Blue Devils in rushing as a sophomore in 2013, but missed Duke's appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl after violating the University's academic policy. Duncan was not enrolled in classes in the spring and fall semesters of the 2014 academic year while serving the suspension.

As part of a multi-headed rushing attack, Duncan helped the Blue Devils to the ACC Coastal division title in 2013, rushing for 562 yards on 5.0 yards per carry. The punishing runner returns to a similar Duke backfield in 2015, joining feature back Shaquille Powell, speedster Shaun Wilson and Joseph Ajeigbe... Read more

Report: Nets big man Mason Plumlee to participate in dunk contest

He was the runner-up at the McDonald's High School All-American game dunk contest, but now he'll have the chance to showcase his skills above the rim against the best in the world.

Second-year Nets big man Mason Plumlee will participate in this year's dunk contest at Madison Square Garden in New York, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday afternoon. The report says Plumlee will be joined by Orlando's Victor Oladipo, Minnesota's Zach LaVine and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, meaning that the featured event of All-Star Saturday night will feature three second-year players and a rookie. The dunk contest will take place Feb. 14, the same day Duke takes on Syracuse at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y... Read more

Recruiting Roundup: Kennard sets new state record as a new 2016 target emerges

Starting with the big news of the week: 2015 commit Luke Kennard is a scoring machine. Kennard set a new state record for free throws going 34-of-40 at the free throw line and scoring a total of 47 points in his team's 77-75 win in the Flyin’ to the Hoops Showcase.

There was more news in the 2015 class, as in-state forward Brandon Ingram had quite a week on the court. Ingram scored 22 points and added four assists as he led his Kinston team to the 56-54 come-from-behind win against Trenton Catholic in the Hoophall Classic.

After the game, Ingram spoke to Eddie Gibbon of ZagsBlog and had this to say about Duke: “They’re a great program with great fans. Good people around campus”... Read more

Stock Watch: Tyus Jones gets back on track as Coach K approaches win No. 1,000

The bell of the Blue Zone stock exchange has just rung again, meaning it's time for another taking a look at who is rising and falling with their performances for Blue Devil sports teams. Each week The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the world of Duke athletics.

Bull Market—Trending Up

Mike Krzyzewski: Duke's head coach received his fair share of criticism after his team was blown off the court last Tuesday against Miami, but bounced back in a big way before Saturday's game at then-No. 6 Louisville. The 67-year old not only decided to extensively use a zone against the Cardinals, but also revealed that he became more sensitive to his young team's confidence issues. In the days leading up to Louisville, Krzyzewski took several measures to help get his inexperienced squad back on track, including Read more

Beyond the Arc: Duke basketball vs. Pittsburgh

After head coach Mike Krzyzewski stressed the importance of building confidence with a solid performance against Pittsburgh, No. 5 Duke (16-2, 4-2 in the ACC) went out and exhibited just that in a 79-65 victory over the Panthers (13-6, 3-3) Monday. Although Pittsburgh was able to get to within 10 in the final five minutes of the game after being down by as many as 21, the Blue Devils were able to hit key outside shots and capitalize from the free-throw line to move earn their head coach his 999th win.

Revisiting the three keys to the game

  • Convert at the free throw line: The Blue Devils turned in a solid performance from the charity stripe going 20-of-25 and hitting key free throws down the stretch to secure the victory... Read more

HALFTIME: Duke 41, Pittsburgh 25

At the half, No. 5 Duke leads Pittsburgh 41-25 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, as the Blue Devils seem to be well on their way to securing win No. 999 for head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Junior Amile Jefferson picked up where he left off against Louisville—he scored a season-high 19 points in Saturday's win against the Cardinals—scoring the first four points of the game. Freshman Tyus Jones leads the team with 10 points thus far and Rasheed Sulaimon is close behind with nine..

But the story of the game—much like it was in Saturday's game—has been the Blue Devils defense. Krzyzewski implemented a 2-3 zone against the Cardinals and Duke has stuck with that approach tonight. Duke jumped out to a 7-0 lead before allowing a Jamel Artis layup to fall with 17:28 left in the half to put the Panthers on the board. Despite finally finding the bottom of the net, Pittsburgh is still shooting just 37 percent from the field.

On the other end of the court, the Panthers doubled freshman center and Duke's leading scorer Jahlil Okafor throughout the first half... Read more