Duke Bound For Belk Bowl in Charlotte

Duke will meet Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl on December 27.

DURHAM, N.C. – Led by 2012 ACC Coach of the Year David Cutcliffe, Duke University will make its first bowl appearance in nearly two decades by meeting the University of Cincinnati in the 11th annual Belk Bowl on Thursday, December 27 in Charlotte, N.C.

Kickoff at Bank of America Stadium is set for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally live on ESPN.

Will Webb, executive director of the Belk Bowl, extended the invitation to the Blue Devils on Sunday.  The meeting with the Blue Devils (6-6) and Bearcats (9-3) will mark the first on the gridiron between the two schools.

Blue Devil fans are encouraged to purchase tickets from the Duke allotment on GoDuke.com.

“I could not be more excited for our players – especially the seniors – to earn a berth in the Belk Bowl against a very good and well-coached Cincinnati team,” Cutcliffe said.  “I thought coming out of spring practice that we had a chance to be a good team – a bowl-caliber team.  We battled through some adversity, received tremendous leadership from our captains and reached the goal of playing in the postseason.  This is a great opportunity for our seniors to end the season on a winning note. For our returning players, it is going to be a chance to gain invaluable experience and practice opportunity as we continue to grow as a program.”

Offensively, the Blue Devils are led by redshirt senior quarterback Sean Renfree, who has completed 260-of-392 passes for 2,755 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions.  Duke boasts the nation’s only trio of receivers – Conner Vernon (75), Jamison Crowder (70) & Desmond Scott (61) – with 60-plus catches each.  Rookie Jela Duncan paces Duke’s ground attack with 516 yards and four touchdowns on 99 attempts.

On defense, a pair of All-ACC defensive backs in safety Walt Canty and cornerback Ross Cockrell headline the unit.  Canty leads the squad with 102 tackles while Cockrell has an ACC-best five interceptions to go along with 63 tackles.

“We are thrilled to announce that Duke University will be playing in the 2012 Belk Bowl against the University of Cincinnati,” said Webb. “Duke has made great strides this season and we are very proud to have them representing the ACC against the Co-Champions of the Big East. We feel that the Blue Devils will provide a good matchup against the Bearcats in Charlotte. We look forward to hosting both Duke and Cincinnati, and their fans, for the 2012 Belk Bowl and all the surrounding events.”

Duke will make its ninth bowl game appearance and first since dropping a 34-20 decision to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on January 2, 1995.  The Blue Devils also have appeared in the Rose Bowl (1938 & 1941 seasons), Sugar Bowl (1944), Orange Bowl (1954 & 1957), Cotton Bowl (1960) and All American Bowl (1989).

The first college bowl game to call the Carolinas home, the Belk Bowl has averaged nearly 60,000 fans each year with three sellouts.  In addition, the game has reached 28 million television households.  Charlotte Collegiate Football, a non-profit organization, runs the Belk Bowl and serves as the local organizing committee for the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.

Duke Post Game Wrap – Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy chat up BDN

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke's true freshmen Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy got extended minutes in the Duke win over Delaware, which allowed both to further develop their games.  Both thought the experience could be used as a springboard for the future.  BDN caught up with the duo post-game to get their thoughts on the game and the process of growth as a player -

For more player interviews, join BDN Premium for full site access.


#2 Duke Rolls Delaware 88-50

DURHAM, N.C. - Despite the fact that starting guard Seth Curry sat out the game with an ankle injury and the fact they were coming off a huge win over Ohio State, the Duke Blue Devils had no letdown as they demolished Delaware 88-50 in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With the victory Duke moves to 8-0 on the young season; the team will surely get more votes for the number one spot in the nation this week, which Indiana has occupied all year.

It was a feel-good game for Duke in more ways than one. With the students potentially being preoccupied with exam week, it looked initially as if attendance might be a little sparse, but a late rush filled the old arena and the atmosphere was the usual Cameron. On this day, the home fans gotwhat they wanted -- not only a victory, but a chance to see the bench guys get plenty of minutes to hopefully spur their development.

Seniors Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee led Duke with 18 points each; the All-American hopeful Plumlee posted another double-double as he also corraled 11 rebounds. Another veteran, Tyler Thornton, had only three points, but more importantly played his best floor game of the season, dishing out ten assists and grabbing six rebounds from his guard spot. The Blue Devil guards dominated the Blue Hens backcourt, as they combined for 22 assists on the day. Thornton earned the praise of Mike Krzyzewski in the post-game press conference, and for good reason.

Rasheed Sulaimon continued his stellar play as well, stepping up for the injured Curry and scoring 14 points to go with 4 rebounds and 6 assists. He is the coolest customer as a freshman that I have seen at Duke in quite some time and, more importantly, the unselfish Sulaimon is the consummate team player, never forcing anything and always playing within the team concept.

The Blue Devils also got another great game from Quinn Cook, who has earned the keys to the car at the point guard spot, allowing Thornton to play the sixth man role he seems to relish. Cook brings a brash, cool confidence to the court and in addition to posting consistent numbers, he's making players around him better.

That brings us to the Duke bench, that in this game was just four players deep due to the injuries to Curry and Marshall Plumlee. Both Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson got valuable minutes and turned in solid performances -- performances they can build on. Murphy has been the subject of inaccurate web rumors of late with concern to his status at Duke, but he was happy after helping his team play with intensity for a full forty minutes. Murphy ended the game with 10 points and 7 rebounds, both career highs at Duke, while Jefferson added 12 points and 6 rebounds. Those totals were also career highs for the freshman forward from Philly.

All in all, it was an impressive performance from a Duke team that came out with plenty of intensity and was able to coast to a win. The Blue Devils dominated the game throughout and from every position, outscoring the Blue Hens in the paint by a 40-24 margin and also getting a season-high 27 points from the bench. "I feel good about everybody's play. Everybody played well today. Everybody. They were terrific together," said Kryzewski in the post-game. That statement pretty much sums up another solid win for Duke.

Game Notes:
- The Blue Devils pushed their home winning streak against non-conference opponents to 98 straight
- Their 8-0 start is their third in the last five seasons.
- Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee have scored in double figures together in all but one game this season.

Game Preview: Delaware at Duke

Fresh off a sterling comeback to knock off a physical, poised, and well-coached Ohio State team in front of a raucous Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd on Wednesday night, the nation's #2 team welcomes Delaware into Cameron on Saturday afternoon.  The unbeaten Blue Devils and the Blue Hens will tip at 2 PM EST.

Nobody has played a schedule with anything close to the difficulty that Duke has played, as the Devils have taken out Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State, as well as a very good Minnesota team and a VCU squad that will be nobody's easy out this year.  So it is tempting to exhale and say, "OK, it's Delaware.  Step down in competition. They're 0-15 all-time against Top 10 teams and 0-27 all-time against Top 25 opponents.  We've won 97 in a row at home against non-conference opponents.  The team to break that streak isn't going to be Delaware.  Should be a breeze."  OK, look: the reality is that there is no way Duke is going to lose this game.  But that doesn't mean Delaware is a bad team; it doesn't mean they can't challenge Duke in some areas; and it certainly doesn't mean there's nothing for Duke to gain from a game like this.

A little background on the Hens.  They're coached by Monte Ross, a former top assistant to Phil Martelli at St. Joe's, who is now in his seventh season at the helm of the program.  Last year was the team's best under Ross, as they went 18-14 overall and 12-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association, and made it to the post-season CBI Tournament.  Of course, it should be noted that Ross's tenure has not been as successful as either of his two immediate predecessors:  former Duke swingman David Henderson, and former Duke assistant and current Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey.

The teams have met once before, in 1995, when Duke posted a 6 point win in Cameron.  Somehow I had blocked out the fact that Greg Newton led Duke with 24 points and 9 rebounds in that game.

Duke will be the highest ranked opponent that Delaware has ever played.  Fortunately for them, four starters off of last year's team and the top five scorers have all returned for 2012-13.  The two top players are 6'2" junior guard Devon Saddler, who was second in the CAA with 18.8 ppg last year, and 6'9" 235 pound senior center Jamelle Hagins, who is Delaware's career leader in blocked shots and who led the CAA in rebounding last year.  Both Saddler and Hagins earned second team All-CAA honors.  This year, through seven games, Sadler is averaging a CAA-best 21.4 ppg, although on only 42.5% shooting and 33.3% three-point shooting.  Hagins is averaging 13 ppg on CAA-leading 64% shooting and a very impressive 13.4 boards -- third overall in Division I -- as well as over 2 blocks per game.  And he shoots 90% from the line.

Sophomore guard Kyle Anderson has also started all seven games this year.  Jarvis Threatt, another 6'2" soph and a distant cousin of former NBA player Sedale Threatt, is the third double digit scorer at 10.4 ppg, but he's shooting an anemic 32.7% from the field. He's missed the last two games with an abdominal injury, but should be ready to go against Duke.  The fifth starter has usually been either 6'6" 250 pound forward Josh Brinkley or 6'9" 245 pound junior forward Carl Baptiste, a transfer from St. Joe's.  Whichever of those two does not start, along with 5'8" freshman Terrell Rogers, whose father Shawnta was a standout hooper at GW, will be the top two guys off the Delaware bench.

The Blue Hens have lost five of the seven games they've played thus far, but one of their wins was a really nice one.  They began with a 7-point loss to LaSalle, then began play in the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament, where they got off to a good start by beating Penn of the Ivy League by 15.  Then came their best performance of the year when they knocked off Virginia -- yes, Virginia of the ACC -- on the road, no less, by 6, to advance to the semi's of the tournament.  They lost a tough 3-point game to Kansas State in a game in which Saddler went off for 32 points and Hagins dominated inside with 15 boards.  Two days later Delaware was manhandled by Pitt (Saddler did have 28 though) and finished a very respectable fourth in the tournament.  They have since suffered two more close losses, by 5 on the road to Temple (Hagins had 29 points against the Owls) and by three at Lafayette after rallying from a 20 point deficit.  Hagins had 23 boards in that one.

Coach Ross has really shortened his rotation in the last couple of games.  Against Temple, Saddler played 39 minutes, Hagins played 38, and Anderson played 36.  He followed that up by playing all three of those guys the entire 40 minutes against Lafayette; Rogers played 35 minutes too.

So Saddler is a strong perimeter player who can also get to the basket, but while his jumper is purportedly improved, he's still not shooting a great percentage, as mentioned above.  In fact, the Blue Hens as a whole are just not a great shooting team from the outside.   Threatt is shooting 33%, Anderson is at 37%, and Rogers is at 32%.  Hagins is a terrific shot blocker and strong rebounder, and can hit the mid-range jumper.  Brinkley is a good rebounder and finishes well around the basket.  Delaware averages a +3 on the boards as a team; Duke is at -2.  But perhaps most ominously against Duke, Delaware is not a good ballhandling team.  Not only does the team have more turnovers than it does assists, but every single player individually has more turnovers than assists.

Duke is going to put a lot of pressure on Delaware's ballhandlers, and likely turn them over a bunch.  These guys don't shoot well against mid-major competition; I wouldn't expect things to improve against the intensity Duke is expected to bring, in Cameron.  While Hagins is a strong inside player, he's not used to going against guys as long and athletic as Mason Plumlee, or as crafty defensively as Ryan Kelly.  Delaware is also small, starting three guys around 6'2".  So Duke's utilizing a three-guard lineup will not leave them vulnerable defensively on the perimeter, as it sometimes has in the past against big guards and long wings.

It would be natural to expect somewhat of a letdown in intensity from Duke, coming on the heels of the gauntlet they've just been through.  They could come out lethargically and let this team hang around awhile. But this Blue Devil team may suprise us.  They seem to be playing with such confidence and playing so well together, that they may just want to keep the party going, and just take care of business here by dispatching the Blue Hens early.  That would be really good to see.  When you have the better team, and when you could be ripe for a letdown, not allowing it to happen and coming out with focus and intensity would be the sign of a rapidly maturing team, and that's frankly what I expect to see.

What many Duke fans also will be looking for is how Coach K uses the bench in this, and succeeding games.  Meaning: is he going to give Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy some real burn?  Will those two frosh get the opportunity against lesser competition to start to get comfortable on the floor in a real game situation?  Can or will K let them play through mistakes and leave them out there long enough to make some positive plays and gain some confidence? I for one hope the answers to these questions is "yes."  And I'm not alone.

Also interesting will be what he does with Seth Curry.  Seth was obviously hurting in the Ohio State game due to his shin injury, and then turned an ankle on top of that.  Many wouldn't mind seeing K just sit him entirely for this, and maybe even a few more games, and let him do some healing.  I doubt that happens, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see Seth get pretty limited minutes.  But what do I know?  K may see things completely differently.  He may want to keep the momentum going with his five starters getting heavy minutes.  He may want them to just continue to get used to playing together and playing those heavy minutes, knowing that he's going to need them to do that later in the year, and may feel that getting Amile and Alex integrated is not as important.  We just don't know.  As they say, "THAT'S why they play the games."