Duke Defeats Michigan State 81-71

quinnAs far as big early season games go, Duke had a very nice win against a scrappy Michigan State team.  In the process, the team and talented freshman learned a lot about themselves.  When the dust cleared Duke defeated the Michigan State Spartans 81-71 and they overcame adversity and some Spartan runs to do so.

When Jahlil Okafor went to the bench with four fouls, Duke did not whither.  In fact, they flourished.   Okafor’s  roommate  Tyus Jones came alive and took over the game.  It all started with a four point play and Jones finished the game with 17 points, including going 7 of 7 from the free throw stripe.

Okafor added 17 points for Duke on an efficient 8 for 10 from the field.  Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Okafor might be the best post player to ever wear the Duke uniform in his post game press conference and many will surely agree with him.

But the player who was steady all night long, was a senior.  Quinn Cook tallied 19 points and led the team with 6 assists.  When Duke needed a key bucket, Cook was there for a three pointer or a slash to the rim for a deuce.

The backcourt combination of Cook and Jones were really good together.  Neither of the guards committed a turnover against and aggressive Michigan State team.

Justise Winslow chipped in with 17 points and 5 rebounds as well.  Winslow got better as the game went on after a sluggish start by taking advantage of the opportunities when they were presented.

All in all, this was a good learning experience game for Duke who moves to 3-0 this season.  They faced various forms of adversity and they answered the bell.  What that means in time is that they will be better from the experience.

Time after time when it looked as if Duke might crack under pressure, they found ways to recover and that is something which surely pleased the staff.

Every player on the team can take something from this game.  Okafor has to learn that he can get fouls called on him quickly on either end of the court.  The team should have learned that taking good shots is always important for they could have probably had a bigger lead going into the half had this happened.

When Duke did take a bad shot, their transition defense suffered, so that too will be a lesson learned.  But on this early season night, Duke did more things right than wrong and they earned a win against a pesky ranked opponent.

Michigan State is not the kind of team that folds up the tent when they are down.  And against a very tough upcoming  ACC schedule where there are several solid teams, the experience of winning a game like this will help.

The Blue Devils will enjoy this win for an evening, but Krzyzewski will not allow them too much celebration time.  With two more tough games coming up against good competition, the Blue Devils next lesson is to put a game behind them and prepare for the next play.

Duke was far from a well oiled machine at times tonight, but the potential was clearly there as was toughness.  For this team to have so many young components, the win over Michigan State is a sweet one.

Blue Devil Nation Photo

Preview: North Carolina at Duke

Preview: North Carolina at Duke
7:30 PM ET
Thursday, November 20
Durham, NC
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network, Sirius Ch 126 and XM Ch 193

Duke in 2014: 8-2
North Carolina in 2014: 5-5


OUT – Alonzo Saxton II (CB)
OUT FOR SEASON – Kelby Brown (LB), Braxton Deaver (TE), Jake Kite (S), Taariq Shabazz (DE)


OUT FOR SEASON – Khris Francis (TB), Conner Gonet (RB)

Thursday night football arrives in Durham as the Blue Devils host the rival Tar Heels in a primetime matchup. A year ago, Duke escaped Chapel Hill with a 27-25 win, clinching the ACC Coastal Division crown. This year, the Blue Devils need wins in their final two games to repeat as Coastal Division champions; meanwhile, the Tar Heels need a win to secure bowl eligibility. North Carolina holds a 58-38-4 edge in the all-time series, with the Blue Devils winning the last two meetings.


Get back to playing Duke football. The Blue Devils are 10-2 in their last 12 ACC regular season games, and for good reason. When at their best, they play sound fundamental football, and make their opponents pay for mistakes.

1. Win the turnover battle. Even after the loss to Virginia Tech, Duke remains +7 in turnover margin on the season, including a +2 in ACC play. While Jim Knowles’ defense is becoming more adept at taking the ball away from opponents, the key for the Blue Devils is to take care of the football, and that starts with QB Anthony Boone. In Duke’s two losses of the season, the redshirt-senior has thrown four interceptions; in their eight wins, just two. In a game that could easily turn into a shootout, the Blue Devils simply cannot afford to give away possessions and points. Conversely, one of the glaring weaknesses of Larry Fedora’s offense has been a propensity for turnovers; through 10 games, the Tar Heels have thrown 11 interceptions and given away 5 fumbles. On a chilly night in Durham, look for the opportunistic Duke defense to secure a few takeaways.

2. Control the line of scrimmage. When looking at Duke’s offensive success, it’s easy to point to the balanced attack that averages nearly 33 points, 202 passing yards, and 193 rushing yards per game. That balance is not possible without strong offensive line play. After giving up 3 sacks and averaging just 3.4 yards per carry last week, the Duke offensive line, led by All-ACC senior Laken Tomlinson, should be ready for a big bounce-back effort. Expect a big day for the Duke stable of running backs against a North Carolina defense that ranks last in the ACC against the rush (and the pass, for that matter), giving up 4.9 yards per carry. Anthony Boone should have plenty of time to get the ball to his star senior WRs Jamison Crowder and Issac Blakeney, as the Tar Heels have allowed 24 passing touchdowns on the season.

3. Contain, contain, contain. It’s no secret that these two defenses are capable of giving up lots of yards – the Blue Devils and Tar Heels rank last in the ACC in total defense. The difference between an 8-2 Duke team and a 5-5 North Carolina team, however, is that the Blue Devils rank second in the ACC in scoring defense. Jeremy Cash, David Helton, and the Duke defense will have to wrap up the elusive Tar Heel playmakers. Marquise Williams is a true dual-threat quarterback, and he alone has accounted for 28 of the North Carolina touchdowns this season. With two high-scoring offenses, the defense that manages to limit explosives and keep the opponent out of the end zone will win this rivalry game. In a game that could be decided by less than a touchdown, it’s worth noting that the Tar Heels haven’t made a field goal outside of 23 yards on the season.


1. Make Duke predictable. Virginia Tech and Miami have laid out the blueprint for beating this Duke team, but do the Tar Heels have the talent and discipline to replicate their efforts? It all starts up front defensively, where the Tar Heels have struggled all season. A big night will be needed for the North Carolina defense, led by senior bandit Norkeithus Otis, in order to slow the balanced Duke offense. Holding Duke to well under their 5.3 yards per carry average is essential in pressuring Boone into obvious 3rd down passing situations. If North Carolina can win the battle in the trenches, they should create a lot of work for Will Monday. The Tar Heel secondary will be equally challenged, however, as they will have to keep pace with Crowder, who is averaging 8 catches per game over his last 4. Sophomores Des Lawrence and Brian Walker will have to provide tight coverage on Crowder and Blakeney in particular, as Boone has shown he can be pressured into forcing throws to his senior receivers.

2. Keep it on the ground. Much like the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels are at their best when their offense dictates the game. Duke’s defense has been vulnerable to the run, and a heavy dose of the North Carolina ground game will be crucial for a Tar Heel victory. Expect a big game from TJ Logan and company, who may be bolstered by the return of star freshman Elijah Hood. Jim Knowles typically likes to dial up pressure on third down, but If Williams can find ways to move the chains with his feet as well as his arm, it should put Jeremy Cash and the Duke defense on their heels. An effective running game will open up opportunities downfield through the air. Ryan Switzer is emerging as a threat not just on special teams, but in multiple roles on offense, and the Blue Devils will have to account for him at all times.


The Blue Devils are more disciplined and have the better defense, and that will be the difference in this game. Duke is among the least penalized teams in the ACC, while North Carolina gives up over 60 yards in penalties per game. Though both defenses are prone to giving up yards, the Blue Devils manage to keep their opponents out of the end zone. With the help of a few timely Tar Heel penalties and turnovers, Duke will pull away in the second half. A strong ground game with the re-emergence of Shaun Wilson will keep Marquise Williams and his offense on the sidelines and trailing on the scoreboard. Expect a monster game from Jamison Crowder, who will prove to be too elusive for the much-maligned Tar Heel defense.


Did you know it’s been almost three years since Duke lost to an in-state rival? When it’s Duke and North Carolina, anything can happen, but this Blue Devil team is too focused, too veteran, and too talented for the young Tar Heels. David Cutcliffe will have his squad back to winning football and one more win away from a repeat Coastal Division title, while Larry Fedora will drop to 0-3 against Duke.

Duke 38, North Carolina 27

Lance King for BDN

Duke vs Michigan State Preview

duke-wf rick c 071The last time Duke was in Indianapolis they lost a tough NCAA battle to Louisville.  Just before that loss, they won the national title in Indy where they will once again play tonight.  Make no mistake about it, when Duke travels to Indy the games are always big and tonight’s early season match up with Michigan State is no different.

It’ll surely be a grand moment tonight for Duke Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer, who was on that special 2010 title team.  But the emphasis will not be on past memories, no matter how wonderful they are, but the future of Duke Basketball.

For the first time this evening, the vaunted freshman class and 2014-15 Blue Devils will be on a big stage.  The nations eyes will be checking out how they fare away from Cameron in this early season marquee matchup of traditional powers.  How Duke responds may give one an early idea if they can return to Indy again come April, for this is where he Final Four will be played.

Once Duke Coach Mike Krzyewski tames the many good ghosts of titles past, his focus will be to make new memories.  By now, the team has heard the many stories from Indy.  But now, it’s time to see how this newer version of Blue Devils will handle the spotlight.

If the two early season games in Cameron that Duke has played to date are an indication, the Blue Devils will be ready.  Duke has been an offensive machine to date, but the Spartans are known for their tough defense and this will truly be a test against physically strong opponents for the freshman.  Michigan State will also seek to slow this game down and keep it in the sixties.

Despite the great starts from Winslow, Okafor and the rest, look for veteran Blue Devils to play a key role if Duke is to win.  Never will it be more important for captains Quinn Cook, the lone senior and Amile Jefferson to lead by example.

There have been several match ups past between these two solid programs.  In those games, Duke has had recent success not having lost to Michigan State since 2005.  The Spartans rode a career high 25 points from senior Travis Trice to win their opener against Navy.  As expected coming into the season, Branden Dawson helped in the win at Navy as well.

The Spartans are currently ranked 19th in the country, but if Duke can implement their will or pace, this should be a win.  Still, you can bet that Mike Krzyzewski is not taking any Tom Izzo coached team lightly.  Duke will seek to pick up the pace and go to what seems to be a deeper bench.

Unlike seasons past, Duke can press and trap with a true center in Jahlil Okafor staying home.  The Blue Devils also have a knack for early season success under Krzyzewski in big games and by nights end, I see Duke winning their third consecutive game.

Krzyzweski will undoubtedly make it a point before leaving Indianapolis that the goal is to return to the venue where the Final Four will be held.  And this seasons team has a shot but it’s long, long ways until March Madness and a very top-heavy and tough ACC slate is in the future.

In the past, the coach seeking his 1000th win this season, likes to treat games coming this week as tournaments.  He might treat tonight’s game like a regional final.  Later in the week against Temple and then Stanford or UNLV he might seek to simulate a final four or regional setting.

Having a coach who has been there before bodes well for Duke tonight, but it will come down to the players performing  and continuing to mesh together as a cohesive unit.

I feel like Duke will push the ball at will early on and that pace will make it tough for the Spartans to catch up.  For entertainment purpose only, the game line went from Duke by 3.5 to 7.

The pick here is Duke 79 Michigan State 65

Jeremy Cash

Jeremy Cash talks UNC at Duke

Jeremy CashThe UNC at Duke game is bigger than ever this season.  Firstly, it is a must win game for the Blue Devils if they hope to win the Coastal Division.  Secondly, UNC is vying for a bowl and would like nothing more than to knock Duke out of that spot.  Thirdly, the game will be on national TV where ESPN is expecting a shoot out.  Blue Devil Nation talked with Jeremy Cash about the big contest where he spoke to his girlfriend, a UNC student, supporting his efforts.  He also addressed what Duke would be facing on the defensive end.

balke harris p

2017 PG Blake Harris Recaps Duke Visit

balke harris pAt just 16 years old, Blake Harris has already established himself as one of the top two point guards in the Class of 2017. Standing a long 6-3 and still growing, Harris has already been offered by Cincinnati, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, It takes more time for the big time schools to make their move, but Harris is now getting interest from the likes of Duke and North Carolina.

Harris will attend Carlisle School in Martinsville, Virginia again this season but he’s originally from the Durham and Chapel Hill area and lives in the Bull City much of the time with his parents. Speaking of his parents, both are UNC graduates and Harris readily admits he grew up a Tar Heel fan.

j2His Dad played football in Chapel Hill and Harris now says that he is definitely a UNC fan in football but that he pulls for or follows a lot of different schools in basketball. His mom is a graduate of UNC Law School and plays a huge role in his life.

Harris was attending Crescent Christian Academy, a small private school in Durham, but decided he needed a different situation. The well spoken prospect said that faith plays a role in his life.

Harris attended the Duke blowout win over Fairfield on Saturday night where he got a closer look at the program. He had decided two days prior to take in the game and wanted to see this years team.

“I had a good time, I got there with my parents and went straight out to the court after spending some time with the coaches,” said Harris. The young prospect was seen chatting with all the assistant coaches while the teams warmed up.

Harris visit also came during Brandon Ingram’s visit. Ingram, of course, is one of the last firm targets in the coming class.

“After the game I went to the locker room with Brandon (Ingram) and I got to talk to Quinn and the players. I already knew Quinn. After that I was able to hang around for about thirty to forty-five minutes and got to talk to Coach K for about fifteen minutes,” said Harris.

When asked what Krzyzewski had to say, Harris said it was basically a relaxed conversation, stating, “We talked a little bit about my school and my grades and guard play. It’s wasn’t too deep and we just mainly talked about basketball.

Duke Assistant Coach Jon Scheyer has been talking with Harris the most of the assistants. He has kept up with Harris for some time now with occasional calls.

In speaking of his aforementioned relationship with Cook, Harris said they go to the same barbershop and had gotten to know one another there. Harris also stated that he’s been able to play basketball with him some and that Cook had been to some of his AAU games.

Harris said that while it is early in the process, that his ultimate decision would be based on the best fit for him. While he remains a staunch UNC football fan because of his Dad, he said he pulled for many teams in basketball.

“My parents have told me to keep my circle of friends small, know who you’re talking to and don’t do anything bad that can hurt you. They’ve told me to just do the work and play basketball and it’ll work out,” said Harris.

The grounded Harris said that the game of basketball was fun. He enjoys all parts of the game and doesn’t look at the game as another chore which some students of the game attest to these days. Harris pointed to the cohesiveness of the game when playing with others as being a point of attraction for him.

Harris said he enjoyed watching the Duke team last night alluding to their fast breaking style. “Coach K let’s his guards play,” said Harris and that might appeal to him. “I like playing at a fast paced and not always in sets and for a team that gets a lot of shots up.”

His interest currently lies with any school taking up time with him. Harris said that he hoped to get down to Florida State at some point and time and that he would be visiting Duke come more as well as North Carolina this coming season. Two other schools he mentioned were Notre Dame and N.C. State, so there is plenty of early interest from ACC teams.

When asked to describe his game, Harris said, “I more of a pass first point guard that scores when needed and take pride in my defense.”

It’s early in the process, but Duke seems well entrenched early on here, but make no mistake, there is a long ways to go before Harris makes a decision.

Miami v Duke

Quinn Cook Leading As a Captain

Miami v DukeQuinn Cook has been garnering early season praise from Duke Coach Mike Krzzyewski.  Cook has showed the leadership the coach had hoped he would as team captain and is playing the best basketball of his college career after two games.  Cook took time to talk to the media after the big Duke win over Fairfield –