There's no doubt that keeping junior forward Kyle Singler in the forefront of the offensive plans is something the Blue Devils plan to do.
He has gone through a shooting slump that has raised some eyebrows, but coach Mike Krzyzewski is quick to point out Singler's other contributions. He's a player who has been in the team's starting lineup for 43 consecutive games. So Singler is a staple on the court.
While Singler's scoring touch had departed him recently before he had 21 points Sunday against Wake Forest, Krzyzewski has praised his defensive abilities, particularly as an off-the-ball defender. He likes what Singler offers in that aspect.
Singler scored closer to the basket in the game against Boston College, and that seemed almost like a return to his roots from his early days at Duke.
The Blue Devils might have an ace-in-the-hole type of thing going with Singler if Sunday's game is a sign that he has snapped out of the shooting doldrums. He's the third-leading scorer on the team, yet he was expected to be the go-to player at the offensive end and it still might work out that way.
Singler has connected on more than 40 percent of his 3-point attempts in only two of the last 14 games. But he has gone only two games without a successful 3-pointer, and in one of those outings -- Jan. 13 against Boston College -- he matched his season low with only two 3-point launches. He was 5-for-7 from behind the arc Sunday.
--Although F Miles Plumlee and F Mason Plumlee are both listed at 6-foot-10, the brothers are rarely matched up against each other in practice, coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Miles Plumlee is more likely to be matched up against 7-1 C Brian Zoubek, while Mason Plumlee might be paired against F Lance Thomas or F Ryan Kelly. So while it's easy to suggest similarities with the brothers, they don't necessarily play the same position.
--Duke has had four or more players scoring in double figures in 12 of its first 17 games. "Now that we have the whole team together, if that (outside shooting) is not there, we have other options," F Miles Plumlee said. "I think that gives us a lot more confidence as a team." But in every game, F Kyle Singler, G Nolan Smith or G Jon Scheyer have been the leader or co-leader in scoring for the Blue Devils.
ON THE SPOT: Duke usually prides itself on its defense, yet keeping fouls to a minimum is a priority for the Blue Devils. Yet they've committed as many or more fouls than the opposition in three consecutive games. Keeping the opposition out of the free-throw 1-and-1 situation is something the Blue Devils stress, so they'll way to stay away from needless fouls. They've picked up some on defense in the backcourt, and that's a topic that's being addressed.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think our guys were just reminding everyone (on the team) that, 'Hey, it's a physical game. We have to amp it up a little bit.'" -- Coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team held a 24-13 rebounding edge in the second half against Boston College. The Blue Devils failed to outrebound their opponents in their two losses this season.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: The Blue Devils have avoided slides this season, recovering from their two losses with solid victories at home. They've benefited from consistent backcourt play from G Jon Scheyer and G Nolan Smith. They've not only been their leading scorers, but they've provided stability at just about every turn.
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 86, Iowa State 65
- Georgia Tech 71, Duke 67
- Duke 79, Boston College 59
- Duke 90, Wake Forest 70
- at N.C. State, Wednesday, Jan. 20
- at Clemson, Saturday, Jan. 23
- vs. Florida State, Wednesday, Jan. 27
- at Georgetown, Saturday, Jan. 30
IN FOCUS: The Blue Devils head back to the road for a pair of games after a two-game homestand. This will be an important stretch to ensure that the Blue Devils don't develop a stigma about road games. They're 0-2 when playing true road games. The first assignment in the back-to-back set comes at North Carolina State, which has suffered four home losses this season. So if the Blue Devils can't capitalize on that, then the issue about playing on the road might not go away.
--G Andre Dawkins scored a total of six points in his first three ACC games combined. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has disputed suggestions that Dawkins has fallen out of the regular rotation, but it's difficult to wedge in playing time in Duke's backcourt. Still, Dawkins' playing time has declined because he played a total of 23 minutes in a three-game span before logging 17 minutes in Wednesday night's victory against Boston College.
--C Brian Zoubek has four double-figure rebound outings this season after grabbing 11 against Boston College. That gives the senior six double-figure rebound games in his career. Two of his double-figure rebound games this season have come in games when he has logged only 16 minutes.
--G Jon Scheyer had been fouled on 3-point attempts 10 times through the first 15 games. He converted two four-point plays, while he had gone 24-for-24 on the free throws associated with the times he was fouled on 3-pointers.