Diverse Offense Still Not Ready

The Blue Devils are looking to add more players to the scoring column on a nightly basis in hopes of taking the pressure off of Smith and Singler.

The Blue Devils have made it a point to become more diversified on offense, and that has taken shape in some situations, but not all the time.

Consider that in their first 20 games, seven different players reached the 20-point mark in at least one game.

The seventh player to do so was sophomore transfer guard Seth Curry, who knocked in 20 points against Boston College. Curry said he soared offensively because he became engaged at the defensive end.

"Coach (Mike Krzyzewski) tried to tell me to get involved in the game on defense," Curry said. "If you make plays on the defensive end, that's an easy way to get out there and get a sweat going and stuff like that."

Now, like the other Blue Devils to produce big offensive games, the goal is to repeat it.

"I've just got to build on it," Curry said. "Continue to work, not get satisfied and continue to work toward my goals this year."

Suggestions that Duke might become too predictable could be true, at least for the time being. After the loss of Kyrie Irving for an undetermined time period because of a toe injury, the idea of the Blue Devils becoming two-pronged with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler remains a possibility. That duo combined for 52 of the team's 78 points in the loss to St. John's.

Yet this marks only the fourth season in school history with seven different Duke players reaching the 20-point mark in a game at least once.

NOTES, QUOTES
--Duke reached the 20-game mark with a 19-1 record for the ninth time in school history. It's the fourth time in the past seven seasons the Blue Devils have been 19-1. By losing Jan. 30 to St. John's and falling to 19-2, it means Duke will have to wait before hitting the 20-win mark for the 15th consecutive season.

--The Blue Devils could find out whether G Kyrie Irving will be available to return from a toe injury sometime during the first week in February. That's when some sort of determination about Irving could be made. He hasn't played since early December. The timing of this revelation is expected less than a week before the team's first meeting of the season against rival North Carolina, and that tends to be associated with a heightened about of interest in the Blue Devils.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Number of times Duke has shot 50 percent or better from the field for a game this season. The Blue Devils are 8-0 in those games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Especially against us, this is one of the biggest games on the schedule for all the teams we play." -- F Ryan Kelly on the Blue Devils taking the best shot from most teams on their schedule, though Duke has scored at least 41 points in the first halves of its last three ACC games through Jan. 30.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

GAME PREVIEW:

--at Maryland, Feb. 2

KEY MATCHUPS: Duke will need to do a complete job contesting Maryland's jump shooters because the Terrapins hurt the Blue Devils at times from the perimeter in the first meeting. Duke has a rare luxury of the ability to send different post players to contend with Maryland power forward Jordan Williams, so the Blue Devils will hope that those different looks will be troublesome for Williams. Duke has lost only three of its last 40 games dating back to last season, and one of those setbacks came last year at College Park, Md.

--vs. North Carolina State, Feb. 5

KEY MATCHUPS: This is a rematch of a road victory for the Blue Devils and they'll want G Nolan Smith to take advantage of N.C. State's confidence-shaken backcourt. Duke's post players frustrated N.C. State's interior players with their height in the first meeting and they'll be instrumental in the next clash. This is only Duke's second home game in a six-game stretch, and it marks N.C. State's first visit in two years.

FUTURES MARKET: Coming into the season, the biggest change for F Ryan Kelly appeared to be his added bulk. He needed to put on some pounds so he could compete better in the lane, especially when his playing time was limited a year earlier as a freshman because he was slotted behind F Kyle Singler. But Kelly has proven to be a valuable player on the perimeter as a shooter. He has hit on 8 of 10 attempts from 3-point range in the past three ACC games through Jan. 30, and this gives a Duke team that's heavy with shooters another player capable of launching from long range. Five Duke players have been successful on at least 17 shots from 3-point territory this season, and that doesn't include injured G Kyrie Irving.

PLAYER NOTES
--Sophomore F Mason Plumlee's streak of consecutive games with double-figure rebounds ended at five when he was held to four rebounds against St. John's. In another category, he went 2-for-2 on free throws, so his streak of missing at least one free throw in every game since the opener (except for four games in which he didn't have an attempt) has ended. He was 1-for-1 at the foul line in the first game of the season against Princeton.

--Senior F Kyle Singler passed former teammate Jon Scheyer when he racked up his 115th career game in double-figure scoring. That's one more game than Scheyer and puts Singler fifth in school history on that list. Meanwhile, Singler has moved into the top 25 in ACC career scoring with 2,144 points through Jan. 30.

--Junior F Miles Plumlee has re-emerged after a mini-slump. In the game against Boston College he picked up steals on three consecutive possessions and finished with a career-high four steals. He now has 17 steals compared to eight blocked shots this season through Jan. 30, perhaps surprising numbers for a 6-foot-10 player. \


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