Zoubek, who is 7-foot-1, sometimes has been limited by unfavorable matchups and foul trouble. But he seems to have found a role.
There also has been a falloff in production from sophomore forward Miles Plumlee, who has been a starter for most of the season. Plumlee's effectiveness has waned on defensive end, too, so Zoubek has been given more opportunities.
Zoubek is using his size to his advantage and he's complemented by solid interior presences around him. Even with the 17 rebounds against Maryland, there were other instances when he kept the ball alive after missed shots, allowing teammates to secure rebounds.
Zoubek's stamina might be an issue if he continues producing at a level that warrants increased playing time. He is not used to long stretches of playing time, and he looks winded during some segments.
Still, Duke has enough post players to use a comfortable rotation. Because Duke plays a grueling style with some players eating up lots of minutes, Zoubek's emergence is adding a degree of depth that might have been suspect.
--Duke has been slow to put some teams away this season because bursts of offense haven't always been flowing. Even with that, the Blue Devils have posted winning margins of 20 or more points in 13 of their 21 victories entering the week. Four of those romps came in ACC games, all at home, along with another 19-point triumph.
--Duke didn't become distracted by the latest reports involving Mike Krzyzewski and possible pursuit from an NBA team (this time the New Jersey Nets). The reports came at an odd time -- on the eve of his 1,000th game as Duke's coach. "A guy couldn't have a better job than I've had for 30 years," Krzyzewski said.
ON THE SPOT: Duke is in a good groove and so the Blue Devils will guard against complacency. They passed one of those tests by looking strong against Maryland on Feb. 13 after defeating rival North Carolina. There are still snags offensively as the Blue Devils have scored more than 70 points only twice in their last six ACC games. Look for more tweaks offensively with what's described as an evolving game plan.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Forget about birthdays, 1,000 games, 70 years of Cameron, all that. We're playing Maryland. You have to play for you, play for what you are doing right now with this unit, and if you do that and win, then those other things are neat." -- Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who turned 63 on Feb. 13, when he coached his 1,000th game at Duke in a victory against second-place Maryland. His record at Duke is 781-219 in 30 years.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: The Blue Devils beat their two biggest rivals in consecutive games by topping North Carolina and Maryland. They control their destiny within the league as the only team with only two conference losses. Their four-game winning streak at mid-February gives the Blue Devils their longest streak since seven in a row in December and into early January.
- Duke 66, Boston College 63
- Duke 64, North Carolina 54
- Duke 77, Maryland 56
- at Miami, Wednesday, Feb. 17
- Virginia Tech, Sunday, Feb. 21
- Tulsa, Thursday, Feb. 25
- at Virginia, Sunday, Feb. 28
- at Maryland, Wednesday, March 3
IN FOCUS: Duke holds first place in the ACC heading into the final weeks of the regular season. The Blue Devils could encounter several games with direct first-place implications, though next they have a trip to Miami, where Duke lost in its last trip two seasons ago. After that, Virginia Tech arrives ... and the Hokies could be in second place when that game is played on Duke's campus.
--G Jon Scheyer led Duke with 22 points in the victory against Maryland. That gave the senior 100 games with double-figure scoring. This season, he leads the ACC with 13 games with 20 or more points.
--F Lance Thomas played 26 minutes against Maryland just three days after he needed assistance leaving the court with a knee injury at North Carolina. Thomas suffered a knee bruise and was considered doubtful for the Maryland game. He was limping a couple of times and wasn't considered 100 percent.
--C Brian Zoubek made his first start of the season in the Feb. 13 victory against Maryland. He made the most of it with 16 points and a career-best 17 rebounds. Those were the most rebounds by a Duke player in more than three years. No Duke player had more than 15 rebounds while playing less than 25 minutes since Chris Burgess grabbed 16 in 19 minutes against Fresno State in November 1998. Zoubek played 22 minutes.