Duke Hoops: Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange reviews the year to date and looks forward to the upcoming tests for Duke

The Blue Devils find ways to put positive outlooks on their outings, and they usually have several avenues to take.

So a recent decline in shooting percentage has been greeted by the premise that the Blue Devils have found ways to win without clicking in all facets offensively.

"Last year we wouldn't have won a game like that," coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the team made one 3-pointer against Boston College.

If the Blue Devils don't find their strokes, it could be an interesting encounter Sunday night against visiting Wake Forest, which is a team without a lot of pure shooters from the perimeter.

With that in mind, the Blue Devils are pleased with recent surges by sophomore center Miles Plumlee and his backup, senior Brian Zoubek. Krzyzewski has been keen on looking at their combined contributions. Against Boston College, that would be 18 points, 16 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Duke's balance might work in its favor looking ahead. The Blue Devils have had at least four players score in double figures in 11 of 16 games.

DUKE 79, BOSTON COLLEGE 59: Duke stretched a three-point halftime lead in a hurry by turning Boston College turnovers into transition baskets early in the second half. The Blue Devils went on a 16-2 run and were never seriously challenged again. Junior Nolan Smith matched his career high with 24 points. Duke enjoyed a 24-13 advantage in second-half rebounding.

--Although it's not a full sampling, Duke doesn't hold an overwhelming edge in free throws compared to its opponents. That used to be a staple for the Blue Devils, but through 15 games, Duke had attempted 341 free throws and its opponents had taken 308. That's only an average of two free throws per game more for Duke than its foes. That became an issue for the Blue Devils in Saturday's loss at Georgia Tech, which went 22-for-28 on foul shots compared to Duke's 9-for-14.

--Duke's Jon Scheyer certainly made the most of a homecoming game in Chicago. He's from nearby Northbrook, Ill, and his 31 points in a victory against Iowa State were part of a special night for him when the teams met at the United Center. Scheyer made four 3-pointers in the game, marking his third game in a row with at least three 3s.

ON THE SPOT: Duke made a season-low one 3-point basket (on 1-for-12 shooting) against Boston College. The Blue Devils had at least four 3s in every other game. This comes on top of 6-for-28 marksmanship on 3-pointers at Georgia Tech. It could become an issue in Duke's next game against Wake Forest, which leads the ACC in 3-point defense. Scoring easy baskets in transition could eventually lead to shooters feeling more comfortable and confident when attempting other shots, coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They were tougher than us." -- G Jon Scheyer after the loss to Georgia Tech, which became the third team to outrebound the Blue Devils this season. Duke is 1-2 in those games when it has less rebounds than its opponent.


SEASON RECAP: The Blue Devils erased some recent misery against Clemson by opening the ACC portion of their schedule with a convincing victory. After defeating Iowa State, it was back to ACC competition and another nationally ranked opponent with a trip to Georgia Tech. This time, Duke fell short and has yet to win in two tries this season on an opponents' court.

PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- G Jon Scheyer, G Nolan Smith, C Miles Plumlee, F Kyle Singler, F Lance Thomas. Key Subs -- G Andre Dawkins, F Mason Plumlee, C Brian Zoubek, F Ryan Kelly.


  • Duke 74 Clemson 53
  • Duke 86, Iowa State 65
  • Georgia Tech 71, Duke 67
  • Duke 79, Boston College 59


  • Wake Forest, Sunday, Jan. 17
  • at N.C. State, Wednesday, Jan. 20
  • at Clemson, Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Florida State, Wednesday, Jan. 27

IN FOCUS: The game against Wake Forest will be a matchup where Duke's height might not be so impressive because the Demon Deacons can send out a lineup that can compete with Duke's height.

--G Jon Scheyer has scored in double figures in every game this season. That streak was in jeopardy against Boston College until he canned two free throws with less than seven minutes remaining. All things considered, it was a relatively quiet night for the senior because he matched his season-low assist total with four, and his 36 minutes of playing time marked his lowest total in the past four games.

--F Kyle Singler scored 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field against Boston College. This came after the school's student newspaper suggested he should be benched following a combined 7-for-28 shooting in the two previous games. "Unbelievable, unbelievable," coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the published story. With 10 rebounds, the junior produced the 15th double-double of his career.

--F Lance Thomas never impersonated a strong offensive player at the college level, but the senior has scored a total of two points in the past two games. Those points came on free throws with 1:58 remaining in the rout of Boston College. He attempted one shot from the field in each of the past two games.

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