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Behind Enemy Lines: North Carolina

Before every football game this year, The Blue Zone will sit down with a football writer from the opposing school’s student newspaper to get the scoop on their team and season.

This week, The Chronicle’s Nick Martin spoke to the The Daily Tar Heel's sports editor Grace Raynor about Thursday's prime time battle for the Victory Bell between No. 25 Duke and North Carolina.

TC: Hi Grace, thanks for speaking with me today. So North Carolina went through that early season slump, losing four-straight games and everybody went through an all-hope-is-lost phase. But now, they've won three of their last four. And it seems like this has been North Carolina's schtick for the past two years—lose early, win late... Read more

Third and goal: Duke football vs. North Carolina

After an error-filled defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech, Duke is clinging on to the top spot in the Coastal Division as they prepare to play in-state rival North Carolina. The No. 25 Blue Devils can protect their division crown by beating the Tar Heels Thursday and then Wake Forest the week after. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. Here are the keys to this evening’s game:

Contain Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams

The junior signal caller is the heart and soul of the North Carolina offense, accounting for 28 of its 46 touchdowns on the year. He has put up solid stats through the air—with a 63.2 percent completion rate, 18 touchdowns, and 7.32 yards per attempt—but taking off as a runner is where he can cause real problems. Williams has found the endzone 10 times this year and racked up 623 yards with his legs. The Blue Devils' front seven will need to collapse the pocket and make sure to finish plays... Read more

X factor: Duke football vs. North Carolina

Despite falling to Virginia Tech 17-16 last week, No. 25 Duke still controls its own destiny to recapture the ACC Coastal Division title and set up a rematch against undefeated Florida State Dec. 6. With a short week to prepare, the Blue Devils will have to shake off the loss as they ready themselves for a primetime matchup against Tobacco Road rival North Carolina Thursday at Wallace Wade Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Every week throughout the football season, we’ll break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest.

Duke: quarterback Anthony Boone

In both of the Blue Devils’ losses this season, the Weddington, N.C., native has been horrific managing the ball. Against Miami Sept. 27, Boone completed a measly 43.1 percent of his passes—just 22 out of 51—and threw two interceptions with zero touchdowns. Last week against a struggling and injury-prone Virginia Tech defense, the redshirt senior completed 18 of his 40 passes for 181 yards, and again threw two interceptions and zero touchdowns... Read more

Pacers All-Star Paul George visits Duke locker room following 81-71 win Tuesday

After getting some love from LeBron James on social media Friday, the Blue Devils got an in-person visit from Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George Tuesday.


George, who suffered a compound fracture in his right leg in a scrimmage for Team USA this summer playing for Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, is still recovering from the gruesome injury in Indianapolis and is not expected to play this season, but took time Tuesday to enjoy watching some of college basketball's best players and possible future opponents and teammates... Read more

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, Okafor discuss relationship, recruitment process

Darbi Griffith / The Chronicle

Jahlil Okafor considered going to Michigan State.

That didn't stop him from inflicting damage against the Spartans Tuesday night.

The Chicago native scored eight quick points on 4-of-4 shooting and finished the contest with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and five rebounds despite being sidelined with foul trouble down the stretch.

Okafor's performance helped No. 4 Duke fend off No. 19 Michigan State 81-71 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and after the game, both Okafor and Spartan head coach Tom Izzo discussed the dominant big man's recruiting process.

The Spartans made Okafor a Read more

Krzyzewski: Okafor could grow to become Duke's best big man

Darbi Griffith / The Chronicle

Following Saturday's tilt against Fairfield, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski showered praise on freshman Tyus Jones by comparing the point guard to former Blue Devil great Tommy Amaker.

After Duke's 81-71 win against Michigan State in Indianapolis Tuesday night, it was freshman center Jahlil Okafor's turn for recognition, specifically where the Chicago native could potentially land on the list of great Duke big men. Krzyzewski stopped short of calling Okafor "iconic"—saying that only winning will earn you that status—but still placed the freshman in great company... Read more

The best of Krzyzewski, Izzo, Calipari and Self from the Champions Classic

Darbi Griffith / The Chronicle

Tuesday's Champions Classic in Indianapolis showcased some of the best young talent college basketball has to offer—No. 4 Duke and No. 1 Kentucky trotted out multiple lineups of McDonald's All-Americans, and No. 5 Kansas and No. 19 Michigan State each feature teams loaded with former top recruits.

But there was also a lot of star power on the sidelines at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Four of the game's most successful and more charismatic coaches—Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Bill Self and John Calipari—brought their teams to the site of this year's Final Four looking to test them against peer powerhouses, and each left with a better understanding of what work needs to be done.

Below are some of the more humorous sound-bytes from the coaches' postgame press conferences Tuesday:

Bill Self, Kansas:

As he took a sip of water after losing to Kentucky by 32 points: "I was hoping this was going to be vodka... Read more

Beyond the arc: Duke basketball vs Michigan State

In Duke’s first true test of the season, the No. 4 Blue Devils held off No. 19 Michigan State 81-71 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis in the fourth annual Champions Classic. Duke got off to a quick start and was 7-of-7 from the field in the first five minutes, but the Spartans kept up by doing the little things, preventing the Blue Devils from pulling away until late in the game.

But once again,Duke's freshmen stole the show, demonstrating they intend to live up to the preseason hype. Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, and Justise Winslow combined for 48 of the team's points. The Spartans stayed in the game by dominating on the glass, outrebounding Duke 13 to five on the offensive glass, but could not get enough big plays down the stretch..

Revisiting the Read more

HALFTIME: Duke 40, Michigan State 33

After a fast-paced first half, the No. 4 Blue Devils lead No. 19 Michigan State 40-33 at the break at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Duke jumped out to an early 12-4 lead by dominating in the paint, but was unable to keep Michigan State off the glass. The Spartans got nine early points from junior Denzel Valentine to prevent the Blue Devils from building a significant lead.

Freshman center Jahlil Okafor scored eight quick points in the game's first few minutes, but the Chicago native was held scoreless until the 5:45 mark. He finished the half with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and has missed just four shots all year.

Senior captain Quinn Cook and freshman swingman Justise Winslow stepped up as Okafor drew more attention. The duo combined for 20 points and knocked down three 3-pointers. Winslow was 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the first half.

If Duke wants to prevail, it will need to box out more consistently on the defensive end... Read more

The key three: Duke basketball vs. Michigan State

Duke faces its first real test of the season when it travels to Indianapolis Tuesday night to face off against No. 19 Michigan State at 7 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Three things that Duke will need to do to fend off Tom Izzo’s squad:

Use the size advantage

Last season, it was Duke that suffered from a distinct lack of size in the frontcourt, and it cost the Blue Devils time and again. This year, the Spartans suffer from a similar ailment—the tallest player on their roster is the 6-foot-9 Matt Costello. With center Jahlil Okafor looking as dominant as he has on the low block, it will be imperative for Duke to continue to use his size on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Offensively, point guard Tyus Jones can utilize his ability to spread the ball around to free up space for Okafor down low. The 6-foot-11 freshman will also likely draw a second defender, freeing up shooters on the outside... Read more