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Second-half adjustments boost Duke basketball to win against UCLA

(12/20/13 10:00am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Heading into halftime Thursday night against the Bruins, the game felt eerily similar to the Blue Devils' Nov. 29 loss to Arizona at Madison Square Garden, but this time No. 8 Duke had a different ending in mind."We could have easily got down because we weren’t hitting shots," Duke point guard Quinn Cook said. "I know myself, I couldn’t buy one tonight from the outside. Andre couldn’t hit one. But we moved on."And move on they did. The Blue Devils (9-2) started hitting their shots and managed to stymie the impressive UCLA offensive attack en route to a 80-63 win in New York at the World's Most Famous Arena.After opening up an early lead, Duke relaxed defensively, allowing the Bruins (9-2) to storm back and take the lead before the half came to a close. After trading buckets at the end of the period, the teams went into the locker room knotted at 37. “They’re good," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "When you’re playing good people they have a good chance of shooting well against you. When you’re playing bad people they will shoot less usually. These guys are good."Krzyzewski was referring to the 3-point clinic UCLA put on in the first half, as the team shot 60 percent on 6-of-10 shooting. Forward David Wear and guard Bryce Alford led the charge for the Bruins, each knocking down both of their 3-point attempts. Wear would end the night with four triples, matching the number he had hit on the season prior to playing Duke.But after a halftime emphasis on defense, the Blue Devils clamped down. Wear's two second-half threes were the only shots UCLA would hit from beyond the arc, as his teammates shot a combined 0-for-10 from trey-land in the second period. That wasn't all though. After shooting 45.2 percent from the field in the first half, the Bruins shot just 34.5 percent in the second half.

HALFTIME: Duke 37, UCLA 37

(12/20/13 6:16am)

No. 8 Duke, in its third game at Madison Square Garden this season, had to fight to stay with UCLA in the first half. The Bruins, after a very slow start, caught fire from downtown, putting in points in a hurry to make up a double-digit deficit. Kyle Anderson was just as advertised for UCLA, scoring seven points to go with five assists and six rebounds in the first half to lead the Bruins. Duke was led by Jabari Parker's 11 points.

Duke basketball officially announces Alex Murphy's transfer

(12/06/13 9:51pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>In a press release this morning the Blue Devils announced redshirt sophomore Alex Murphy will transfer to another D-I school at the conclusion of the semester. “I have enjoyed my time at Duke and am thankful for the support of my coaches, teammates and the fans,” said Murphy. ”However, I feel that it is in my best interest to leave the program at this point. I have grown and developed on and off the court during my time in Durham and am excited about my future.”Murphy was averaging 1.0 points and 1.0 rebounds in five games this season.The Chronicle broke the news of Murphy's intent to transfer yesterday.

The road to Charlotte: Duke football season recap

(12/06/13 9:35pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>As a part of The Chronicle's coverage of the upcoming ACC Championship game pitting the No. 20 Blue Devils against No. 1 Florida State, we took a look back at Duke's historic season.Here are links to a game-by-game recap of the sights and sounds from the Blue Devil's run to the ACC Championship game.Aug. 31: Duke 45, N.C. Central 0 (1-0)Sept. 7: Duke 28, Memphis 14 (2-0)Sept. 14: Duke 14, Georgia Tech 38 (2-1, 0-1)Sept. 21: Duke 55, Pittsburgh 58 (2-2, 0-2)Sept. 28: Duke 38, Troy 31 (3-2, 0-2)Oct. 12: Duke 35, Navy 7 (4-2, 0-2)Oct. 19: Duke 35, Virginia 22 (5-2, 1-2)Oct. 26: Duke 13, No. 16 Virginia Tech 10 (6-2, 2-2)Nov. 9: Duke 38, N.C. State 20 (7-2, 3-2)Nov. 16: Duke 48, No. 24 Miami 30 (8-2, 4-2)Nov. 23: No. 25 Duke 28, Wake Forest 21 (9-2, 5-2)Nov. 30: No. 24 Duke 27, North Carolina 25 (10-2, 6-2)For our preview and feature coverage, check out The Chronicle's football page.

Duke basketball is finding its defensive identity

(12/04/13 1:03pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>What a difference a week makes.Nine days after allowing 90 points to Vermont at Cameron Indoor Stadium on 64.8 percent shooting, the No. 10 Blue Devils put on an impressive defensive display against the No. 22 Wolverines."We played an outstanding defensive game tonight—not a good one," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.Outstanding may be an understatement. Big man Mitch McGary was limited to seven points on 2-of-6 shooting for the first 38 minutes of the game before scoring eight points in garbage time. Guard Nik Stauskas entered the day averaging 20.3 points per game, but was held to just four points and two field goal attempts—both of which he missed.In nine days time, Duke (7-2) was able to completely revamp its defense to keep Michigan (5-3) at bay. Although there were strong individual performances—namely by senior Tyler Thornton and freshman Matt Jones—it was a team effort that propelled the Blue Devils. After a focus on offense through the first few weeks of the season, the team is coming together defensively as it moves closer to ACC play."We’re still trying to figure ourselves out, but in the last two weeks I think we’ve taken big steps—especially on the defensive end of being connected and understanding what the coaches want and need from us,” Thornton said.The defensive cohesion was hard to miss. Thornton and Jones worked in tandem to take Stauskas out of the game. All three Duke big men—Josh Hairston, Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee—provided constant energy and tenacity defensively as well as on the glass against McGary and the Wolverine frontcourt. Point guard Quinn Cook held his counterpart Derrick Walton, Jr. to just one assist and forced three turnovers. For the first time this season, the game wasn't about an offensive explosion from forwards Jabari Parker or Rodney Hood—who combined for 29 points on 12-of-27 shooting. Parker and Hood were held to fewer than 20 points in the same game for the first time, letting the spotlight shine on the entirety of the Duke team. Without the focus falling on one or two players, the interdependence between Blue Devils paid significant dividends."Since the Vermont game [defense] has been our emphasis, and I think since that game we’ve done a great job of communicating and being more together on the defensive end," Thornton said. Every player who saw action tonight for the Blue Devils contributed, including the guys off the Duke bench. Jones played a career-high 18 minutes despite going 0-for-4 from the floor but was granted a longer leash than he had enjoyed in his previous eight games for his defensive effort. Jefferson played significant minutes for the second straight game and matched a season-high with six rebounds after a three-game stretch logging 12 minutes or fewer. Andre Dawkins redefined instant offense with his pair of threes in his first 54 seconds on the floor in the second half. Even Plumlee got into the act, playing his heaviest minutes since Nov. 18 and matching his career-high with three rebounds. But one player was conspicuously missing from the team-wide effort: sophomore guard Rasheed Sulaimon. Sitting at the end of the bench next to Alex Murphy and Semi Ojeleye, Sulaimon did not remove his warmups once, watching from the bench the entire game. Krzyzewski made the situation very clear—Sulaimon was simply being outplayed by the guys now ahead of him in the rotation."He has to play better than the guys who played tonight," Krzyzewski said. "He contributed great from the bench."The mantra all season from Krzyzewski and his players alike has been that this team needed to grow together as the season wore on. Parker, Hood and Dawkins all played zero collegiate minutes last season. Tyler Thornton, Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson are all playing radically different roles than they were a season ago. It seems the only constant for this team between the two season is Cook's presence as the point guard spot.But now, one month into the regular season, the growth is finally starting to show. Duke basketball isn't the Jabari Parker show, it's not the Rodney Hood show and it's not devoid of defense. Duke basketball is evolving into a total-team effort, and the results will improve along with the improved communication. “We started out this season as a group of individuals who were talented," Hood said. "Now we’re a team, especially on the defensive end. And if we get hot offensively, nobody can get in our way this year. We have to keep that defensive mindset.”

HALFTIME: Duke 32, Michigan 22

(12/04/13 8:11am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>It was not a pretty shooting performance through the first 12 minutes of the first half. Neither team could get much of anything going on offense, with both teams misfiring from beyond the arc and in the paint. While things got better for the Blue Devils at the end of the half, Michigan had no such luck. Duke is led by Rodney Hood's 10 points. No Wolverine player has more than two field goals, and Glenn Robinson III leads the way with five points.Observations:

Beyond the arc: Duke basketball vs. East Carolina

(11/20/13 7:13am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>After hitting its first 11 attempts from the field, No. 6 Duke (4-1) had to hold on for dear life against a surging East Carolina (4-1) squad, knocking off the Pirates 83-74 Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Rodney Hood led the way for the Blue Devils with 30 points, and Quinn Cook added 14 points and 10 assists.Revisiting the three keys to the game:

Beyond the arc: Duke basketball vs. UNC-Asheville

(11/19/13 7:54am)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The Blue Devils (3-1) got off to a strong start in the Preseason NIT, knocking off UNC-Asheville 91-55. Freshman Jabari Parker and redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood continued to be the stars for Duke, combining to score 39 points on the day. Parker and Hood were not alone however, as Andre Dawkins scored 13 points and Semi Ojeleye and Quinn Cook each added 10 in the Blue Devil victory.Revisiting the three keys to the game:

Young Duke basketball squad shows its growth in win against FAU

(11/18/13 1:02pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>It's easy to forget how young this Duke team is.Last season Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee—a trio of seniors—led the way for the Blue Devils in scoring. This year, only four scholarship players are in their junior or senior season. The 2013-14 Duke team is one that will grow as the season progresses—and that's exactly what was on display during Friday night's 97-64 victory against Florida Atlantic."This is not like having Ryan and [Mason] and Seth, where they already knew who they were," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And so there's a lot of growing that needs to take place."The Blue Devils (2-1) were propelled by three players who did not play a minute of collegiate basketball one season ago. Freshman Jabari Parker, redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood and graduate Andre Dawkins gave the Owls' defense fits all night with their ability to not only knock down shots, but also with the ease with which they penetrated into the lane. Parker has shown little signs of youth offensively, becoming the first freshman to score 20-plus points in each of his first three games under Krzyzewski. But for Hood and Dawkins, things haven't come quite so naturally. Heading into his first season of action with the Blue Devils, expectations for Hood were sky-high. The 6-foot-8 forward was not only anointed one of Duke's two go-to players by Krzyzewski, but was also named a team captain. It’s easy to forget that Hood is playing his first meaningful basketball in more than 18 months. That rust manifested itself against Kansas Tuesday, when a tentative Hood attempted just eight shots in 38 minutes.It's easy to forget that more than 18 months."That’s my motto from here on out—to be aggressive regardless of whether I have a good shooting game or not," Hood said. "I let my teammates down the last game by not being aggressive."The Blue Devils don't always call plays, but rather players make reads into an action and reacts based on it. Reviewing tape of the Kansas game, Hood revealed to Krzyzewski that he didn't just not see his reads, but wasn't even looking for them. Against a diminutive Florida Atlantic (1-2) wing rotation, Hood did not miss his reads, taking over the game with 28 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 12-of-13 shooting from the free throw line—all in just 26 minutes of action in the lopsided affair. "He was hungry. He was hungry to get to the rim," sophomore forward Amile Jefferson said of Hood's performance. "He wasn’t settling for jump shots. When he had somebody smaller on him he took him to the post. That’s the Rodney we’re going to need."Dawkins' story is a well-documented one. The graduate student guard did not play last season while dealing with personal issues. Though Dawkins isn't young or inexperienced like Hood or Parker—Krzyzewski made a point of reminding everyone he helped raise the 2010 National Championship banner. Before Friday he had played just two minutes of meaningful basketball since March 16, 2012. As if he time off wasn't enough, Dawkins has also been dealing with a back injury that has kept him from shaking off the rust from the year-long layoff."When he hurt his back he missed a number of practices, and when he came back—you get out of shape," Krzyzewski said. "For a shooter, you have to be really sharp and so really for about a week he wasn’t hitting anything. Really, in the last day or so you could see his rhythm coming back in shooting drills." Rhythm is the perfect way to describe Dawkins' shooting performance Friday night. He knocked down five 3-pointers in eight attempts, feeding off the energy of the crowd and the flow of the Duke offense. For Dawkins, it was the most triples he'd hit in a game since Feb. 23, 2012 against Florida State. A healthy and happy Dawkins just adds to an already deep and productive Blue Devil bench. As Dawkins continues to heal and get back into the flow of playing collegiate basketball, it will be harder and harder for opposing defenses to shut down all of Duke's scoring options. "Obviously Rodney and Jabari are gonna be the staples of our offense, but any given day you have a Quinn [Cook], Rasheed [Sulaimon], Matt [Jones], myself—anybody can get hot and put up a lot of points," Dawkins said. "It's fun to play with a team that has so many guys who can put the ball in the basket."None of the Blue Devil's top three performers from Friday appeared in a college box score last season. As the season wears on, Parker, Hood, Dawkins and the rest of the young Duke squad will continue to grow together and develop a rapport that could make them a nightmare for any defense to contain. “It says that we’re so versatile," Parker said. "One through 12, that we have a great team."

Ticket prices are high for the Champions Classic

(11/12/13 10:50pm)

____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Thanks to Will Flaherty and the people over at SeatGeek, The Chronicle has access to data on the secondary market for tonight's Champions Classic, which features No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Kansas. Below are the staggering statistics for the event, which will be held at the United Center in Chicago tonight.