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Blue Devils to search for top form in Ivy matchup

The No. 1 Blue Devils have yet to play like the nation's top team. While they have notched impressive victories over Indiana and Memphis, both top-25 teams, they have struggled against weaker opponents.

Before facing off against No. 2 Texas this Saturday, Duke (7-0) will take on Pennsylvania (3-2) at 7 p.m. tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"There's something missing, and I think part of it is, you win the NIT, you beat a really good Memphis team, and you win that game at Indiana, which is a high-level game, and you fall into the trap of thinking you're home, and we always win here," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Sunday's two-point victory over Virginia Tech. "I couldn't reverse that feeling."

In their five games against unranked opponents this season, the Blue Devils' only easy victory came against an overmatched Seton Hall squad, and Duke trailed both Drexel and the Hokies in the second half.

In both games, the Blue Devils were forced to rely on incredible performances to escape with a win. J.J. Redick's 31-point performance kept Duke unbeaten against Drexel, and Sean Dockery's improbable buzzer-beater kept the Blue Devils from notching one in the loss column after his team squandered an 11-point lead against Virginia Tech-a team picked to finish eighth in the ACC during the preseason.

"We got that lead, and then we missed shots-we missed real good shots," Krzyzewski said. "They made big shots. They never quit, and they were certainly deserving to win. You'd like to win where you feel like you're the most deserving, and I'm not sure that we were."

Before Dockery's heroics Sunday night, Redick and Shelden Williams had taken turns bailing Duke out of sloppy performances all season.

When the Blue Devils topped No. 7 Memphis in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off Nov. 25, Williams played 39 minutes and tied a career high with 30 point, including a last-minute tip-in to seal Duke's narrow three-point victory.

Just five days later against the No. 16 Hoosiers, Williams was dominated inside by Marco Killingsworth, while Redick lit up Indiana for 29 points. Freshman Josh McRoberts, expected to help Williams out on the post, could not match Killingsworth's physical play and has not yet been the presence defensively Krzyzewski had hoped for from his forward.

"We need more from our second big position," Krzyzewski said. "Josh needs to do more. He just has to do more."

McRoberts should have a good chance to impress his coach when the Quakers arrive in Durham for their first road game of the season. Pennsylvania has been outrebounded by a 7.2 margin and has lacked a solid post presence.

Most of Pennsylvania's scoring comes from the perimeter, and the Quakers are led by junior guard Ibrahim Jaaber who is averaging 20.4 points per game on 59 percent shooting.

Although Duke has allowed a combined 59 points from its last two opponents' top interior threats, the Blue Devils have allowed only five three-pointers in the two games.

"Penn is one of the best teams in their league, and it's important for us to take them very seriously," assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "They are well coached and have a number of capable shooters from behind the three-point line."


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