Late Jasmine Thomas block helps #3 Duke secure a thrilling win over #4 Xavier

Jasmine Thomas helped Duke slip past Xavier - Rick Crank Photo for BDN

DURHAM - A marquee match up between third ranked Duke Blue Devils and the fourth ranked Xavier Musketeers took place in Cameron Indoor Stadium in a game which oddly had  no television coverage.  With a partial band and lack of cheerleaders due to the Christmas break, the team had to at times reach for emotion and that made the Blue Devils homecourt edge less intimidating.

But in the end, there was plenty of emotion as Duke made a fuirous late 6-0 comeback run down the stretch to defeat their game opponent 46-45.  Duke is now 12-o on the season while Xavier falls to 10-1.

Duke senior Jasmine Thomas blocked  a shot at the buzzer to secure the win and Cameron which went nuts as did Xavier Coach Kevin McGuff who had to be restrained by another coach as security moved in.  The refs then went to the scorers table to check the monitor and afterwards they called it a game and Duke escaped with an exciting win.

“That is truly one of the best plays I have ever seen in 19 years of coaching. As we got back and we all went, apparently for the ball – I’ll have to look at it on film to really know – it’s a good lesson to staying matched up in transition. Of course, they got it deflected out, which of course was a tremendous benefit to them, and all of a sudden you see this lightning bolt out of nowhere block a great shot," said Duke Coach Joanne McCallie

The Blue Devils had no answer for Amber Harris who ended the game with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocked shots but they made up for it with 21 steals filling the passing lanes all night.

During the post game press conference, Coach McCallie admitted it was an ugly game and that her team which went for almost 7 minutes in the second half without a point struggled to find good shots.  But she then made this statement, "If you find a way to win ugly, you can win them all."

After a back and forth first half where there were five lead changes, the Musketeers defense kicked in and Duke which started hot went cold from the field.  As the second half started Duke scored just two points in the first five minutes before they fought their way back into the game after going down by eight points.

Duke tied the game back up on a Krystal Thomas lay in at 40 apiece with 9:00 to go, but Xavier star Amber Harris answered putting the Musketeers back up and the two teams then grinded it out defensively where neither team could find the basket.  But then Harris scored inside and was fouled and Xavier clinged to a 43-40 lead.  Another Harris jumper made it 45-40 with just 2:42 to go but that's when the Blue Devils woke up and found their groove just in the nick of time.

Jasmine Thomas cut the lead to three after a lay in and Duke then forced a turnover where Allison Vernerey made a key steal and then Duke found Krystal Thomas  under the basket and she was fouled, making one of two and tying the game at 45 all with 31 seconds left on the clock.    Karima Christmas then tipped the ball out and Jasmine Thomas came up the ball on the baseline and was fouled with 2 seconds left and hit 1 of 2 free throws giving Duke a single digit lead.

That's when an amazing sequence took place.  Xavier set up a great play and the ball went to a wide open Special Jennings and Jasmine ran full speed from about the scorers tabel recovering to block the shot which set off an emotional outburst from the Xavier as we mentioned.  After the dust cleared, Duke walked away with an ugly but substantial victory.

Coach P, Jasmine Thomas audio below - Just press play.

Sidebar - The point total was the lowest for Duke since they lost to Purdue 62-45 in 1999 yet they still won.  Duke outscored Xavier 22-9 off turnovers and the lead changed 6 times although it seemed like more.  Duke shot just 26.8% from the field a season low and held Xavier to 1 for 12 from the three point stripe.  Duke won it's 14th straight game in Cameron and 14th straight over Atlantic 10 teams.  Jasmine Thomas 2 steals moved her to 6th place on the all time list.  Coach P is now 46-4 in Cameron since she arrived.    Duke will next play Temple at home on December 30th.

BDN Post Game Report – Duke defeats Elon 98-72, Coach K post game audio

Photo courtesy of Duke University Photo and

The Duke vs Elon game will most be remembered for Coach Mike Krzyzewski tying North Carolina's Dean Smith at 879 all time wins.  Duke came away with a 98-72 win over their outmatched performance and the Phoenix played with a lot of heart and found some good looks in the Duke defense.  Without further ado, here is the BDN Post Game Report with Coach K audio after his historic win.

Coach K ties Dean Smith on All Time NCAA wins list

As we alluded to in our Monday Musings column, Coach K downplayed an historic win in favor of concentrating on his team's improvement.  He was very gracious in the postgame chat, where he complimented Dean Smith and gave the media the quotes they needed to fill the numerous pieces you'll see in the morning papers.  For those of you who were around during the Krzyzewski-Smith years, you know this was quite an accomplishment, but with Kyrie Irving still not projected to be back any time soon, working on his team is the right thing to do.  Still, BDN sends out a hearty congratulations to a man who has built quite a program and is a living legend.  Duke fans should enjoy and embrace every moment he remains the head coach of Duke University.

Happy with the performance?

Coach Krzyzeswski said his team played well and at times they did but there was quite the lull before media was allowed into the Duke locker room.  The players told me the message was that they couldn't play like that in ACC games, and the maestro knows a brutal January slate awaits his Devils.  "It was intense and Coach K told us we had a long ways to go to be the team we are going to be," said Kelly of the post game meeting with their coach.

Kryie Update

According to Coach Krzyzewski, Kyrie Irving is still out indefinitely.  He is being evaluated every ten days and could miss the season still according to the Duke coach.  You can hear Coach K's comments via BDN audio below.

Kyle was the man

Kyle Singler tallied a team-high 24 points to go with 7 rebounds and 5 assists.  Singler told BDN he wasn't sure why his game elevated in late December going into the rest of the season, but we know why.  He loves competition and it gets better every step of the way from here.  Kyle dished 5 assists in the first half and that helped Duke take an 18 point lead into the half.  Duke also had a 14-0 run early and that put the game pretty much out of reach.

Ryan Kelly had a nice game

Kelly scored a career high 13 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had a team-high 6 assists.  I tried to attribute the 6 assists to Andre Dawkins which you'll hear shortly when my eyes crossed a bit on the score sheet in the locker room.  "Every play I'm out there trying to play my hardest.  If I can earn more time by doing that, it's great.  I'm going to play just as hard when good things happen," said Kelly.

Nolan was effective when he was in

With 19 minutes to go in the game, Smith got his fourth foul.  He played just 21 minutes and scored 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting.  He had 4 assists and his 6 rebounds were impressive as well.  Smith was not too happy with their team's performance saying, "We just want everybody to step up, start talking and be ready to play when we come back."

A.D. played well too

We'll have a chat with Andre Dawkins up in the morning.  Dawkins reached double figures in scoring for the seventh time this season.  Dawkins leads the team with 30 three point field goals on the year.  He tallied 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 dimes. 

Sidebar - Duke moves to 11-0 on the season and for the first time was not the unanimous number one team in the nation when today's A.P. poll came out.  Duke outscored Elon 34-24 in the paint, 28-18 off turnovers, 15-11 on second chance baskets and just 9-4 on the fast break.  Elon's bench tossed in 33 points but the Duke bench beat them by 1 at 34 points.  Duke will now have a nine day Christmas break before Krzyzewski passes Dean Smith when they take on winless UNC-G.  The Duke wireless internet went down in the media room, so the picture gallery from Lance King will come in the morning.

Coach K's post game audio below, just press play -

BDN’s Monday Musings – It’s time for the Holidaze

BDN salute the Duke Blue Devil himself this week! Photos by Rick Crank for BDN

I imagine some of you are just getting your Christmas or Holiday shopping started, just make sure you stay out of my way in the stores if that's the case.  Seriously, the holidays can bring on quite the daze but, as a Duke fan, you have a lot to be happy about and we take a look at some of those things in our Monday's Musings column.  We have decided to salute the Blue Devil as our cheerleader of the week, for nobody works harder pumping Duke fans up on the sideline.

K-Sing, the stretch run

The college basketball season begins in earnest in January with games coming at a breakneck pace, unlike the brief holiday break we are currently witnessing.  This time of year means that a special senior, Kyle Singler, will be turning his game up a notch.  Each time you watch Duke in person or on television keep in mind that four-year guys are special when they return when they could have left two seasons earlier had they wanted to.  It is clear to see that Kyle Singler loves the Duke uniform and he's having a blast with his college experience.  It's not often this kind of thing happens, so enjoy the moment and take time to realize that Duke is the nation's top-ranked team and you simply cannot have it any better than that.

Kyrie Irving's  toe

In the pre-season, it was Nolan Smith's feet getting the attention after ESPN's All Access coverage where he called them his "money makers."  Of course, that was jest and Kyrie Irving's toe is nothing less than serious.  As the boards exploded with worry, I have maintained a stance that we'd not seen the last of the outstanding freshman.  When it comes to Duke basketball, I am a glass half full kind of guy.  I mean, how can you ever not have your glass half full if you are a fan of the elite program?  Still, the worry of Blue Devil fans was more than evident and for good reason -- they simply wanted to see the kid play.  I expect we'll be hearing some news sooner rather than later on the situation, so stay positive if you haven't been all along.

Judging from the jersey, the Blue Devil thinks we'll see more of #1 before the season is over

A low key approach

The media will take anything but a low key approach when Coach Krzyzewski ties North Carolina's Dean Smith on the all time wins list this evening.  I mean no disrespect to Elon,  but a win by them would be the greatest upset in the history of sports when looking at each team's talent level.  There is plenty of reflection for those of us who have been around long enough to see Coach Krzyzewski arrive on campus and had witnessed Dean Smith's accomplishments.  In Bob Harris's new book, "How Sweet It Is," he mentions a game between the two schools where Dean rapped the scoreboard in Cameron yet didn't get a technical.  People or those involved can say what they want to about the incident, but that was the game where a line was drawn in the sand by Duke.  A Michael Jordan led Tar Heels team ended up winning the game by a hair, but notice was served that the Blue Devils were here to stay and since that time Duke basketball has been golden.  While there is no disrespect from Coach K towards Dean, expect him to downplay the situation, for he wants the focus on his team and their season.  Expect more of the same in Greensboro, when they face a winless Spartans team in a game where he'll pass the UNC legend.  It's as if he knows there will be plenty of time to reflect in the off season or maybe when the actual record itself is broken.  Still, as fans, we need to appreciate the fact that Krzyzewski stuck with Duke and for that Blue Devil faithful are lucky.  And for the aforementioned game where Coach let the world know Duke was coming hard, we'll revisit that classic game that television somehow didn't pick up, meaning you had to be there.  So look forward to hearing from some Duke dignitaries who were there.

Frequent Flyer Miles

The men's basketball staff has been hitting the recruiting trail, leaving no stone unturned in their quest to find the nation's top prospects this week.  The staff will, of course, be at tonight's games, but some flights probably await a portion of them once the game concludes.  One of the tournaments they emphasized is the City of Palms in Fort Meyers, Florida.  Austin Rivers will play again at 11:00 and later in the day Alex Murphy will take to the court as well for his St. Mark's team.  Marshall Plumlee led his team in scoring and rebounding in his first game. 

Duke Football is working it too

The Duke football staff has been hard at work on the recruiting trail as well and BDN's Patrick Cacchio has been all over the action.  Check out our recent interviews with future Duke footballers if you haven't already, for the future talent level is getting better and better.  Season ticket renewals went out recently, so secure yours today and back an up and coming program.

Holiday Season is upon us

BDN wishes all of you joyous, safe and happy holidays.  It's a time to let by-gones be by-gones, let go of the petty stuff and spend time with your family and friends.  Some of us tend to stress this time of year but keep in mind that you pull for the nation's top team and that stress could be worse.  Be kind to all you meet at this time and understand that everybody you come in contact with is someone's father, mother, son, daughter, sister and brother.  Think about facilitating a few acts of random kindness and it'll make you glow inside.

Elon at Duke Game Notes

Game 11
[1 AP / 1 Coaches] Duke (10-0, 0-0 ACC)  vs. Elon (4-6, 0-3 SoCon)
Monday, Dec. 20, 2010 • 7:00 p.m.

The Opening Tip
• Duke faces Elon on Monday, Dec. 20 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
• The game is being televised by Fox Sports South with Mike Hogewood (play-by-play) and Mike Gminski (analyst) calling the action.
• Duke is ranked No. 1 in the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, while Elon is unranked in both polls.
• The Blue Devils enter the contest 10-0 on the year, while the Phoenix are 4-6 overall.
• Duke has won 20 consecutive games entering Monday’s contest.
• The Blue Devils are looking to open the season 11-0 for the ninth time under Coach K.
• Duke is seeking its 37th straight win against a team outside of the traditional power conferences (Big Ten, Big East, SEC, ACC, PAC-10, Big 12).
Duke vs. Elon
• Duke is 13-5 all-time against Elon.
• Duke and Elon met 18 times between 1911 and 1936. The two schools have not played since Jan. 2, 1936.
Duke vs. Southern Conference
• Duke is 140-24 all-time against teams currently in the Southern Conference.
• The Blue Devils have won 45 straight against Southern Conference opponents. Duke’s last loss to a SoCon foe was 75-73 to Davidson on Dec. 29,1981.
• Mike Krzyzewski has led the Blue Devils to a 45-2 record against schools currently in the Southern Conference.
• Duke will also play UNC Greensboro out of the Southern Conference on Dec. 29.
Numbers Game
l Mike Krzyzewski ranks third on the all-time wins list with 878 career victories. He is two wins shy of passing Dean Smith for most career wins by an ACC coach.
l The Blue Devils have won 20 consecutive games dating back to a 79-72 loss at Maryland on March 3, 2010. Duke has won 28 of its last 29 games.
l Duke has won 37 consecutive games against teams outside the traditional power conferences (Big Ten, Big East, SEC, ACC, PAC 10, Big 12). Virginia Commonwealth’s 79-77 win over Duke in the 2007 NCAA Tournament was the Blue Devils’ last loss to a team from a non-power conference.
l Duke has only lost two home games in the past four seasons, posting a record of 54-2 in Cameron Indoor Stadium during that span. The Blue Devils currently have a 25-game win streak at home.
l The Blue Devils have won an NCAA-best 83 consecutive non-conference home games. The last home loss against a non-conference opponent for the Blue Devils was on Feb. 26, 2000, against St. John’s, 83-82.
l Duke has won 47 straight home games against unranked opponents. The Blue Devils’ last loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium to an unranked opponent was to Florida State on Feb. 4, 2007.
l Duke has scored 80 or more points in nine games this season. The Blue Devils have won 24 consecutive games when scoring 80+ points. Duke is 491-46 under Coach K when scoring 80 or more points in a game.
l Senior Nolan Smith is one win shy of becoming the 31st player in Duke history to play in 100 victories. The Blue Devils are 99-17 over the past four years in games that Smith has played in.
l Duke is averaging 48.7 ppg. in the second half of play. The Blue Devils are shooting 56.4 percent (158-of-280) from the field, including 55.4 percent (56-of-101) from three-point range after halftime.
l The Blue Devils lead the ACC and rank seventh nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.436) and three-point field goals (9.5 3pg.). Duke has made more three-point field goals than its opponent in eight of 10 games and has made 45 more treys than its opposition on the year.
l Duke has limited its last two opponents to 47.5 points per game and 35.4 percent (39-of-110) shooting from the field. The Blue Devils have held three opponents under 50 points in a game this season. Duke has not held three consecutive foes under 50 points since the first three games of the 2006-07 season.
l Duke has won 52 consecutive December home games.