Preview: Duke v. Gardner-Webb

Previewing the Blue Devils and Bulldogs who tip off on Monday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke is returning to action after a 12-day layoff and is easing back into things.

The eighth-ranked Blue Devils figure to have less trouble with Gardner-Webb on Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium than they did with their final exams.

Though with a New York City date against 9-1 UCLA looming Thursday, the team's next high-profile test is right around the corner.

"Each of the teams I've coached here has to develop its own identity, even though we're given a place that's very high before we ever accomplish anything because of our history," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "... We're not a great basketball team. We have great kids and they're trying hard. We have a really tough schedule and we have to just keep trying to get better."

Prior to the break, the Blue Devils (7-2) faced consecutive ranked opponents with mixed results. They lost to current-No. 1 Arizona on Nov. 29 in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship at Madison Square Garden but bounced back four days later to beat then-No. 23 Michigan 79-69 at home.

Quinn Cook scored all of his 24 points in the second half and dished out nine assists to lead Duke. The junior has scored in double figures in a career-best six straight games to emerge as a third scoring option along with Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood.

"Guys are stepping into their roles, roles are changing," Cook said. "It's a long season. You can't just stay the same the whole season. We kind of want to keep getting better and keep teams on their toes. We've got a long ways to go."

It was the first time this season that Parker or Hood didn't lead the Blue Devils in scoring, something that Parker was pleased to see.

"I personally don't want to score all the time and shoot all the shots," Parker said after scoring a season-low 15 against the Wolverines. "I just want to do what we've got to do to win. If it's there, take it, but if I know guys are closing in on me, somebody else is going to be open."

One more game in double figures would make Parker the first Duke freshman since Jason Williams in 1999-2000 to open his career with 10 straight. He's averaging 22.1 points to rank second in the ACC, and Hood is fourth at 19.3.

After his team held Michigan to 22 first-half points, Krzyzewski was most pleased with the defensive effort as Duke won its 107th straight non-conference game at Cameron.

The Blue Devils have won 21 straight games against current Big South opponents.

Gardner-Webb (6-5) is coming off a 106-54 rout of Division II Clearwater Christian on Saturday night.

Tyrell Nelson scored 20 off the bench to lead the Runnin' Bulldogs' five players in double figures.

They were on the other end of such a lopsided matchup in their only game against the Blue Devils, losing 113-68 on Dec. 15, 2009.

They've lost their last seven games against ranked opponents dating back to an 84-68 win at then-No. 20 Kentucky on Nov. 7, 2007.

Gardner-Webb leading scorer Naji Hibbert (12.7 points per game) was Cook's high school teammate at DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Md.

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