Coming off a dominant, bounce-back victory Monday night against Notre Dame, the Blue Devils will face a one-game layoff from conference play this weekend when they travel to their home away from home in New York.

No. 4 Duke will take the floor against a struggling St John’s team at Madison Square Garden in New York Saturday at noon, looking to continue its dominance in the Big Apple. The Blue Devils have a 29-10 record at the Garden under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has reached a few historic milestones in that arena as well.  

On Nov. 15, 2011, Krzyzewski became the winningest coach in Division I history when he earned his 903rd career victory against Michigan State. Three seasons later on Jan. 25, 2015, Krzyzewski notched his 1,000th career win with a 77-68 victory against the Red Storm in the teams’ last meeting.  

“It’s obviously a very special place,” freshman Wendell Carter Jr. said. “Cameron Indoor is probably the most special place for Duke basketball, but there have been a lot of great plays for Duke in Madison Square Garden. We just have to continue that culture.” 

In order for the Blue Devils (19-3) to continue their success in New York, they will need to continue to dominate the interior against an undersized St. John’s squad. Freshman Marvin Bagley III will be looking to get back on track after the worst offensive performance of his young career Monday. The Phoenix native converted on just 4-of-14 attempts from the field, uncharacteristic for a dominant interior player with 17 double-doubles on the season. 

Fellow big man Carter, on the other hand, just finished the best five-game stretch of his young career. The Atlanta native has averaged 18.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in that span while shooting nearly 70 percent from the field. Despite the recent success on the court, Carter still feels he has room to improve down the stretch.

“I can do much better,” Carter said. “Not so much scoring points and getting rebounds, but I can do more for my team. Do more of the dirty work for my team so we can come out on top in these close games we’ve been having... We made a lot of young mistakes, and we’ve been working on that in practice.”

Fellow freshman Gary Trent Jr.’s performance has helped Carter dominate the interior of late. Trent’s ability to knock down the three-ball with consistency has spaced opposing defenses and given the big men the space they need to operate in the post. The Columbus, Ohio, native has been lights out from the perimeter, converting on 60.5 percent on his attempts from downtown in the last six games. Trent also has drained at least five 3-pointers in four of those six contests. 

Senior captain Grayson Allen spoke about Trent’s shooting ability following Duke’s victory against Notre Dame Monday. 

“Guys aren’t going to be able to leave him because of how he’s knocking it down,” Allen said. “He’s shooting in guys’ faces, shooting it from deep, so he’s a big offensive weapon for us and really just adds to our offensive firepower where hopefully guys have to pick their poison a little bit.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Blue Devils have also done a much better job on the perimeter since starting conference play 1-2. After allowing more than 92 points per contest during the first three games of ACC play, Duke has buckled down defensively, using a 2-3 zone in spurts to shut teams down. The Blue Devils have now held each of their last three opponents to worse than a 30 percent conversion rate from downtown and have not allowed a team to break the 75-point mark in their last seven contests.

The Red Storm (10-13) will likely struggle to reach the 75-point plateau as well if their shooting woes continue Saturday. St. John’s has converted on a mere 31.6 percent of its 3-point attempts this season and has played off its guards’ ability to penetrate for the majority of its scoring this season. Sophomore Shamorie Ponds leads the Red Storm with 19.7 points per contest, but they could find themselves in trouble against the tall trees down low. 

Despite dropping 11 consecutive contests, St. John’s is not a pushover for the Blue Devils. Saturday will mark the third top-10 matchup for the Red Storm this season and the second in as many tries. In five previous matchups against ranked opponents, St. John’s has lost by an average of just 6.8 points, including a 73-68 loss against No. 6 Xavier Tuesday night at home. 

“St. John’s is a very talented team,” Carter said. “They have a lot of great guards…we hope it’s going to be a great defensive game for us. We’re going to communicate a lot, stop ball screens. If we do all of the little things, we should be all right.”

Hank Tucker and Mitchell Gladstone contributed reporting.