The Blue Devils knew what they signed up for. 

They knew they had a tough schedule to start off the season and are trying to keep that in mind after games like Friday, when they did not play to their full potential. Duke came away with a 78-61 win against Southern, but struggled in the first half, allowing the Jaguars to tie the game twice at 25 and 27. 

The physical and mental strain of playing three or more games in a week can take its toll, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski is preparing his team for it the best he can with its practice schedule, which included two days off after Tuesday's win against Michigan State.

“If you have a three-game week—almost a four-game week next week—we can’t give a day off. You have to give two days off either the week before or the week after," Krzyzewski said. "We can't give it the week after because we have another bunch of games. We have nine games in 20 days. And a travel day does not count as a day off. So we won a big game, and we had to give them two days off.”

The busy schedule will have an impact, but Krzyzewski has used games like the matchup with the Jaguars to utilize a deeper bench, with nine players seeing the floor in the first half to give the starters a breather.

“We have to fight human nature, and look at our example—Coach,” senior guard Grayson Allen said. “He has five banners, and he never lets human nature take over. We should be looking at him. We just need to follow his lead on that.”

Although the team struggled overall, it had stellar performances from some of its freshmen, like Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. Both forwards had double-doubles, crashing the boards on both ends of the floor, and capitalized on missed scoring opportunities with several putbacks.

Even these freshmen knew there was room for improvement, with Bagley struggling at the line before ultimately fouling out and Carter commenting on the selfishness of their play.

“That was not our best game,” Bagley said. “We played terrible today.... We just didn't come out ready. We had a day off and we didn't come out ready, and it’s as simple as that. We have to be better at starting the games hard like we finish them.”

The Blue Devils were 4-of-20 from the 3-point line and had 15 turnovers, with Allen going scoreless in the first 15 minutes of the game. Even with their subpar performance, the Blue Devils will not change their preparation too drastically.

“We weren’t sharp tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “This team didn’t play like it’s practiced or played this year… We’ll get in here tomorrow. We can practice tomorrow and Sunday because we've already given them two days off. We can practice every day now, for about nine days, although we’ll be playing in four of them.”

Although the team's two days off Wednesday and Thursday made it less sharp in tonight’s game, the rest could pay dividends when Duke takes on Furman at home Monday. The Blue Devils will then have a quick turnaround and head to Portland for the PK80 Invitational, where they will play three games in four days.