The key three: Duke basketball vs. Gonzaga

After getting past upset-minded Utah on Friday, the top-seeded Blue Devils will take on second-seeded Gonzaga Sunday at 5:05 p.m. looking to advance to their first Final Four since 2010. Duke’s tournament run has been fueled by great individual play from freshmen Justise Winslow and Jahlil Okafor, as well as tremendous team defense by the Blue Devils. But the Bulldogs come into the Elite Eight with one of the most prolific offenses in the nation and will look to silence the doubters by clinching a spot in Indianapolis. Here are three keys to Duke notching another win and getting to the Final Four by claiming the South Regional title:

Get contributions from the bench

Duke’s starters have shown that they’re one of the most potent five-man units in the country. Yet the Blue Devils will be hard pressed to contend with one of the top teams in the country without key contributions from Amile Jefferson, Grayson Allen and Marshall Plumlee... Read more

X factor: Duke basketball vs. Gonzaga

Junior captain Amile Jefferson could give the Blue Devils a big boost in their Elite Eight tilt against a bigger Gonzaga frontline Sunday afternoon.

Junior captain Amile Jefferson could give the Blue Devils a big boost in their Elite Eight tilt against a bigger Gonzaga frontline Sunday afternoon.

The Blue Devils are just one game away from an appearance in Indianapolis and the Final Four and can punch their ticket Sunday evening against No. 2 seed Gonzaga at 5:05 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston. 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: forward Amile Jefferson

Although Jefferson's performance in the tournament has been wildly inconsistent thus far, he could play an important role Sunday night against a Gonzaga team that boasts an explosive offense and the nation's best field goal percentage, especially if star center Jahlil Okafor gets into foul trouble or struggles for the second straight contest. Jefferson should come off the bench and will be tasked with protecting the paint against a Bulldogs team that is shooting a whopping 52.4 percent from the field this season... Read more

HALFTIME: Maryland 31, Duke 23

As if Duke did not have enough motivation to win this game and move on in the NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils faced their long-time ACC rivals before they left the conference for the Big Ten.

At the half, fourth-seeded Duke trails No. 1 seed Maryland 31-23 at Spokane Arena as the Blue Devils look to secure their spot in the Elite Eight. Senior Elizabeth Williams led Duke with 10 points and 6 rebounds.

The Terrapins jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Although Maryland seemed to dominate the floor, the Blue Devils managed to stay with the Terrapins. They briefly took the lead with 14:22 on the clock as Williams cut through the paint for an easy layup, but Maryland quickly regained the lead with a quick three.

Duke struggled with defending shots from beyond the arc all season. As the best three-point shooting team in the country, the Terrapins took advantage of the Blue Devils’ weakness, making 4-of-10 shots from deep, carried by Laurin Mincy.

Mincy connected early from deep to open the game... Read more

Injured Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman returning to Duke to complete degree

Former Blue Devil Marcus Stroman is returning to Durham.

Stroman—who suffered an ACL injury in spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays—announced via Twitter Friday that he will return to Duke this summer to complete his degree.

Stroman was selected 22nd overall by the Blue Jays in the 2012 MLB draft and forewent his senior season to enter the Toronto minor league system. After serving a 50-game suspension for use of a banned substance just a few months after being drafted, Stroman returned to the mound and kept working his way up toward the majors.

The 5-foot-9 right-hander broke into the big leagues last season, starting out in the bullpen before transitioning into the starting rotation. As a starter, Stroman found his groove, going 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 20 starts.

The Medford, N.Y... Read more

Beyond the Arc: Duke basktball vs. Utah

Playing in his hometown, just a day removed from his 19th birthday, freshman Justise Winslow carried the top-seeded Blue Devils to a 63-57 victory against No. 5 seed Utah in the Sweet Sixteen at NRG Stadium in Houston Friday night. The forward finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds in the game and made all the big plays when necessary to help Duke fight off the Utes' late rally. With the victory, the Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight, where they will take on second-seeded Gonzaga Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Play tight perimeter defense: The Blue Devils had perhaps their best defensive game of the season—holding the Utes to 35-percent shooting from the floor. Winslow and sophomore Matt Jones especially made their presence felt on the perimeter and prevented Utah from getting any open looks from beyond the arc... Read more

HALFTIME: Duke 27, Utah 22

HOUSTON— After getting off to a slow start from the field thanks in part to the quirky black curtain behind the basket, the top-seeded Blue Devils rattled off a 8-0 run late in the half to build up a 27-22 lead against fifth-seeded Utah going into the half.

Justise Winslow was active for the Blue Devils early—just as he has been pretty much every game in the second half of the season. Playing in his hometown, Winslow poured in eight points and five rebounds in the opening period. Jahlil Okafor scored six and Tyus Jones got hot late to add six points of his own for the Blue Devils.

Dallin Bachynski led the way in scoring for the Runnin' Utes with 11 points, despite only playing six minutes. Delon Wright, the heart of this Utah team, mustered just two points before being called for his third personal foul, relegating him to the bench. The Blue Devils employed a press in the point guard's absence and forced a few turnovers, but Utah scored the last five points of the half to cut a 10 point deficit in half... Read more

The key three: Duke basketball vs. Utah

After handily defeating both No. 16 seed Robert Morris and No. 8 seed San Diego State in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, the top-seeded Blue Devils will face No. 5 seed Utah in a Sweet 16 matchup Friday at 9:45 p.m. at NRG Stadium in Houston. Three keys to a Duke win, which would put the Blue Devils one game away from Indianapolis and the Final Four.

Play tight perimeter defense

Utah makes 48.5 percent of its shots from the field—good for 13th in the nation—and a big reason why is a duo of dangerous guards in Delon Wright and Brandon Taylor, the Utes’ two leading scorers.At 6-foot-5, Wright is capable of carving up any defense off the dribble—especially by using screens effectively to get to the foul line—and usually gets most of the attention, but Taylor is a deadly shooter from long range at 44 percent and can make several triples in a row when he gets it going.

Defending Wright and Taylor will require a team effort for the Blue Devils, who will need to communicate and support each other when Utah's guards look to penetrate... Read more

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.