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Virginia Tech at Duke Game Notes

• Game 29 •

[5 AP / 4 Coaches] Duke (24-4, 11-2) vs. Virginia Tech (15-13, 4-9)

Saturday, February 25, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • ACC Network

The Opening Tip

• Duke (24-4, 11-2) faces Virginia Tech in an ACC home contest on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 12:00 p.m.

• Tim Brandt (play-by-play) and Cory Alexander (analyst) will call the game for the ACC Network.

• Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 68-24 when ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. Virginia Tech is not ranked in either poll.

• Duke is the only team in the NCAA to rank in the top 5 in RPI, Strength of Schedule as well as the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Duke has three wins against top 10 teams in the RPI.

• The Blue Devils are 12-2 at home this season with both losses coming against ACC teams. Duke has not lost more than two games on Coach K Court since the 2006-07 season.

• With Thursday’s win at Florida State, Duke has assumed first place in the ACC standings.

Duke-Virginia Tech Series

• Duke and Virginia Tech have met 46 times heading into Saturday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming on Feb. 16, 1912.

• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 38-8, including a 9-3 ledger since the Hokies joined the ACC.

• Duke won the previous meeting this season 75-60 in Blacksburg, Va., thanks to an 18-point effort from freshman Austin Rivers. Duke has won two in a row in the series and six of the last seven meetings.

• The Blue Devils are 15-1 against the Hokies in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

• Mike Krzyzewski is 9-3 at Duke against the Hokies, including a 4-1 record in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

• Six of Duke’s last seven wins over Virginia Tech have been by at least 12 points. Duke’s last three losses to Virginia Tech have been by no more than four points.

Numbers Game

l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 90 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.

l The Blue Devils are 13-3 on the year in games decided by 10 points or less. The Blue Devils have six wins in ACC play by less than 10 points. Duke’s 13 wins by 10 points or less are tied for the sixth most in school history.

l Duke averages 25.5 points per game off the bench with 11 games with 30 or more bench points. The Blue Devils have had a double-digit scorer off the bench in 21 of 28 games this season.

l Only four Duke teams have won their first seven ACC road games. The Blue Devils are 7-0 in ACC road games, joining the 2005-06, 1999-2000 and 1998-99 teams as the only groups to win their first seven ACC road contests. Duke has not gone undefeated in ACC road games since 1999-2000.

l Duke has hit at least eight three-pointers in seven straight games. During that streak, the Blue Devils are shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range while averaging 30.4 ppg. from three-pointers.

l Andre Dawkins leads the ACC with a .422 three-point shooting percentage. Dawkins is 65-of-154 from beyond the arc this season and ranks third in made three-pointers.

l Duke has a +15.7 scoring margin in Cameron Indoor Stadium and a +6.6 rebounding margin at home. The Blue Devils score an average of 82.9 points per game on Coach K Court while holding opponents to 67.2 points per game. Duke has outrebounded nine of 14 opponents at home.

l Duke’s perimeter defense has improved significantly over the last 13 games. Duke has held those 13 opponents to a .277 shooting percentage from beyond the arc and allowed just three of those teams to shoot better than .350 from three-point range.

l Austin Rivers leads Duke in scoring at 15.2 points per game and has reached double figures in 24 contests. He is attempting to become just the third Duke freshman to lead the team in scoring.

l Miles Plumlee is averaging 9.0 points and 11.5 rebounds over his last four games. He has two double-figure rebounding games and two double-figure scoring games during that span, including a Coach K-era record 22 boards against Maryland.

l Seth Curry has made 16 consecutive free throws and 35 of his last 38 free throw attempts. He ranks second in the ACC with an .884 free throw percentage, which would rank as the seventh highest single-season mark in school history.

l Duke has had at least four double-figure scorers in 16 games this season. The Blue Devils are 15-1 when at least four players score 10 points.

l Seven Duke players have started at least 10 games this season, tying the school record. Duke last had seven players with at least 10 starts in 2008-09.

Duke at Boston College Game Notes

• Game 27 •

[5 AP / 4 Coaches] Duke (22-4, 9-2) vs. Boston College (8-18, 3-9)

Sunday, February 19, 2012 • 6:00 p.m. • ESPNU

The Opening Tip

• Duke (22-4, 9-2) faces Boston College (8-18, 3-9) in an ACC road contest on Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Conte Forum. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m.

• Jon Sciambi (play-by-play) and Hubert Davis (analyst) will call the game for ESPNU.

• Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 66-24 when ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. Boston College is unranked in both polls.

• The Blue Devils are coming off a 78-73 win over N.C. State on Thursday. Duke outscored the Wolfpack 37-12 over the final 11:33 of action to overcome a 20-point second half deficit.

• Duke is the only team in the NCAA to rank in the top 5 in RPI, Strength of Schedule as well as the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

• The Blue Devils are currently 5-0 on the road in league play. Duke hasn’t won six straight ACC road games since the 2005-06 season.

Duke-Boston College Series

• Duke and Boston College have met 15 times heading into Sunday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming on Dec. 21, 1979.

• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 13-2, including a 9-1 ledger since Boston College joined the ACC.

• Duke has won four straight and 12 of the last 13 games in the series.

• Mike Krzyzewski is 12-2 at Duke against the Eagles, including a 4-1 record at the Conte Forum.

• Seven of the 10 games since Boston College joined the ACC have been decided by 10 points or less.

• All five games in the series that have been played at the Conte Forum have been decided by 10 points or less.

• Duke and Boston College have met twice in the ACC Tournament with Duke winning both games.

Numbers Game

l The Blue Devils are 9-2 in ACC play and are one win shy of winning at least 10 conference games for the fifth straight season and the 20th time under Mike Krzyzewski.

l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 89 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.

l The Blue Devils have had 10 or fewer turnovers in five ACC games and leads the conference with 10.1 turnovers per game in league play. Duke had a season-low five turnovers in Thursday’s win over N.C. State, including no turnovers over the final 13 minutes of play.

l Duke is 12-3 on the year in games decided by 10 points or less. The Blue Devils have five wins in ACC play by less than 10 points.

l The Blue Devils have held seven of their 11 ACC opponents to four three-point field goals or less. ACC opponents are shooting just 28.4 percent (44-of-155) from three-point range against Duke for the second lowest percentage in the conference.

l Duke has trailed at the half in three of the last four games and has had a second half deficit of 10 points or more in three of the last four contests. The Blue Devils overcame a 13-point second half deficit to beat North Carolina (Feb. 8) and a 20-point deficit to defeat N.C. State (Feb. 16).

l The Blue Devils average 25.1 points per game off the bench. Duke has gotten double-digit scoring from the bench in 19 of 26 games this season and the bench has scored 30 or more points in 10 games.

l Austin Rivers was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the seventh time overall and the fourth straight week on Monday. Rivers’ seven selections are the third most in ACC history, while his four straight selections tie three others for the ACC’s longest streak.

l Brothers Mason and Miles Plumlee combine to average 17.9 points and 16.3 rebounds per game this season. Either Mason or Miles has led Duke in rebounding in 24 of Duke’s 26 games. The duo has also combined for 19 double-figure rebounding games on the year.

l Seth Curry has scored in double-figures in five consecutive games and is averaging 18.6 points per game in that span. He is 16-of-37 (.432) from three-point range and is also averaging 4.4 rebounds per game in the last five contests.

l Austin Rivers leads all ACC freshmen in points per game (15.0), minutes per game (32.2), double-figure scoring games (22), 20-point games (6), field goals made (131), field goal percentage (.444) and free throws made (83). He ranks second in three-pointers made (45) and steals (24).

l Mason Plumlee ranks second in the ACC in rebounding at 9.9 rpg. He is also second in the league with 14 double-figure rebounding games and has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in four straight games and six of the last seven contest.

A look back at another amazing Duke win – time to give the Devils their due

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski entered a sweltering and packed media room in Cameron Indoor Stadium and he wanted no part of fielding questions about the Blue Devils perceived or real short comings or areas of needed improvement.  And who can blame him?  His team just pulled off an amazing comeback victory over a game N.C. State Wolfpack team that led his Blue Devils by 20 points with 11:33 on the clock in the second half.

Once again, Austin Rivers hit a huge three point shot with 2:26 left giving Duke a 73-71 lead and one they'd hold onto ending the game with a 78-73 victory keeping them in a three way tie atop the conference.  "When we made that run, I could just feel it.  I could just feel it.  I felt confident.  I love those games," said an elated Rivers.

While he may have liked the outcome, he was quick to say as did other Blue Devils that they cannot keep digging holes and expect to comeback.  In a span of eight days, Austin hit two of the biggest shots of  the season with one being  a dagger to the heart buzzer beater over arch rival North Carolina.

To give you an idea of the ferocity of the comeback, it was the largest in the Krzyzewski era, down 14 in the half.   "That was an amazing win," said the Hall of Fame coach who broke the all time NCAA win mark this season.  He continued, "I thought our fans were terrific, they never let us die."

And Cameron did rock and it sounded like jet aircraft taking off the runway when Rivers nailed the three to put Duke ahead for good.  There were times when every fan in the old girl were standing and it has been while since the collective did that. 

While it seemed bleak for much of the game, the first 29 minutes to be exact, Duke kept the faith, their heart and never quit which payed off in a most big way.  "They thoroughly outplayed us for close to 29 minutes but we thoroughly outplayed them for 11," said Krzzyewski.

And those 11 minutes were amazing (37-13 run to end the game) for a Duke team that has set the tone for ACC drama of late.  A quick look at the message boards, showed a lot of fans giving up, just as they had in the North Carolina game, only to all come back and dine on a crow sandwich as they celebrated another incredible and impossible to script win.

"Heroic," was the word Krzyzewski used for Seth Curry in the post game and man was he on the mark.  The junior went to the sidelines with what seemed like a game ending injury and he was escorted to the training room by Duke trainer Jose Fonsesca.    Curry told Fonseca that he didn't know if he could make a go of it according to Krzyzewski, but he was told he had to and he did and in the process had a story book 2nd half.

Curry dropped 21 of his team high 26 points in the second half in what I feel was his best game of the season.  He drew praise from his coach for his strong play with the ball in his hands and he was a match up nightmare for the befuddled Wolfpack team.  "That was a heroic performance by Seth," said Krzyzewski.  Duke will scheduled to take a look at his injury today to see if he is a go for Boston College this Sunday.

Now back to Krzyzewski and that hot media room.  A mildly flustered Krzyzewski when questioned by media said, "No, no, no,"when questioned about his concerns.  "You know what I am concerned with today? A celebration of a great win.  Whatever string of things happened, we are 22-4 and ranked in the top five of the RPI all season long. We're not a perfect team, but we're a good team," stated the long time Duke head coach.

And he is right.  Far too often the media and especially the fan base expect perfection yet overlook the fact of the seasons accomplishments to date.  The bottom line is Duke won and they are winning and they are competing with anyone.  Go back and harp on a loss at Ohio State if you like, but this is a better team now and a resilient one at that.

And keep in mind how tired Duke was after starting the season off in China and Dubai, then to Hawaii, New York and then Columbus where they faced a team that had nine days rest and had not played away from home with the Buckeyes.  Just sayin'

While there is no take charge leader on this years team, there is a perpetual will to get better and win and the Blue Devils continue to find ways of hanging around in the top five ranked teams in the country.  This Blue Devils team is finding ways to win in tough situations and that is the mark of a winner.

Pundits, critics and haters will continue to speak of the short comings of Duke while not recognizing their amazing success and a string of two memorable victories.  The media is just like that, some say doing there job, but the fan base should know better and if you haven't noticed yet, this team is pretty darn good and still learning.

Sit back and enjoy the season as it winds down and leave the nit picking to others.  This team has been amazing and it is time to give the Devils their due.


Gameday is upon us! Random chatter on Duke-Carolina

It's gameday for Duke at North Carolina and if one lives in the Triangle area almost everywhere you go or look, somebody is wearing a shade of blue.  When the Blue Devils and Tar Heels come together, it's as if time stops until games end and once that happens one fanbase is extremely elated while the other deals with a tough couple of days.

Whether one walks into a convenience store, sits down to eat in a restaurant, works out in a gym, takes the kids to kindergarten, somebody is likely to ask you with often times a southern drawl, "Who you got tonight?" followed by a little smack talk as they bait you into conversation.  Some fans even worry themselves into a frenzy making one wonder if their should be a new addition to the DSMV manual.  Work productivity goes way down and sports bars make a killing.

Fans gather in droves to watch the game in a mix of both dark and light blue.  Others couldn't watch a game with the other side if they had to.  Many will put on their lucky charms and colors, some will go through rituals.  You can almost hear the pacing in households afar once the game starts and all hang on every single play, every call and ride a roller coaster of emotion that leaves them drenched in sweat from the stress by nights end. 

A bit later, I will meet with a co worker to eat and then head to Chapel Hill to the Dean Dome which is mere minutes from Duke University where car flags will be a flapping and the color goes to a lighter hue as you approach.  Once checked in, it's off to the media area for me, setting up a good two hours in advance and then talking with the throng of reporters from both far and near as the teams begin to warm up in the background.  And while the media cannot cheer on press row and must remain professional and objectionable, you can read their faces and clearly see who they're for and trust me, eveybody has a dog in this race if you are local media. 

Anyhow, here are a bunch of random thoughts going into tonight's game -

UNC favored by 6 points

When the line came out it caused several folks to raise an eyebrow.  Every single media person I have spoken to this week thinks UNC will win this game easily and or that the line is too low.  Many feel they'll go double digits on Duke and never look back and local bookies have added points to that total to try and keep money coming in on Duke.  I in no way advocate betting and only speak of this for entertainment purposes and trust me gambling has a dark side, so beware.  And while I am at it, if you are goaded into a sucker bet by the opposing fans and friends, it's your own fault.  If you want to take the chance of wearing the other teams colors for a week at work, go right ahead;)

Numbers, stats and more numbers

Everywhere you look there are people throwing out numbers and they prove to be quite interesting.  Duke has won 20 of the last 30 against UNC, Duke is even at the Dean Dome ... so on.  The truth of the matter though, is that when these two teams get together, you can throw conventional wisdom out the window.  But while I seem to be making fun of the numbers, I still read them and here is a must read article from my friend, Al Featherston at Duke Basketball Report that is well worth your time.

The biggest advantage for UNC is ...

It is not their front court of Barnes, Henson and Zeller.  It is not Kendall Marshall, the league leader in assists.  It is their experience.   The aforementioned front line all returned for UNC when all of them could have gone in the first round in the NBA draft.  These guys are battle tested now and for the most part the Tar Heels are an old team.   The Tar Heels fast break finishes a close second in my book and Duke must control the glass enough against the leagues best rebounding team to win.

Who is ready to step up for Duke?

Is there a Fred Lind or Reggie Love in the group?  Lind, then a bench warmer, went off against UNC in the sixties and has become a legend for his performance when Duke starting center Mike Lewis fouled out.  Love, a former Barrack Obama aide was a walk on from the football team that filled in when Duke had injuries to Carlos Boozer, outplaying his UNC opponent which helped Duke close out the Heels in their backyard.  For Duke to win tonight, it will likely take a player or players stepping up their game to a beyond normal level.

The last time out ...

Duke rocked UNC at the ACC Tournament and proceeded to cut the nets.  But that team had Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.  Nolan scored 20 plus points in that game and dished out 10 assists.  This years Duke team is averaging just under 13 assists per contest combined.  Again, I point to experience and you can bet they'll miss those dimes and Smittys' on ball defense.  Remembering that loss could serve a a plus side intangible for the Tar Heels, who will be hell bent on revenge.

Plumlees have had success

Duke will need to hit the boards as a team tonight but I feel many are underestimating the abilities of Team Plumlee.  Both Mason and Miles have had success against the UNC front court but that help side defense from Singler is missing and Kelly and others will have to fill that role.  The key for Duke will be to keep Mason out of early foul trouble and to adjust as a team to the way the game will be called.

Young Devils will need to step up

This will be Austin Rivers first trip to Chapel Hill and freshman past, not matter how good they are have taken a beating at times in this series.  Rivers will be a focal point for the Tar Heels defense and seeing if he can rise past that attention will be interesting.  Quinn Cook will also need to be calm cool and collected and that will not be easy in a hostile environment.  Here is ESPN on how freshman will play key roles in the game.

A Duke loss will add pressure to the team

If Duke loses to UNC this evening and Florida State and N.C. State win along with Miami and Virginia which is all likely to happen, the Blue Devils will find themselves in a three way tie for 4th place in the ACC.  That in turn will make my job hard as much of the fan base will freak out on the message boards and quite frankly I do not look forward to that happening.  So, be forewarned that this loss could be devastating but keep your composure please and be a good and supportive fan.  Also, Duke would then face an N.C State team in Cameron this weekend that is a half game ahead in the standings.  Funny how big that game has suddenly become and getting that 20th win can get harder and harder until a victory is achieved.


Nice shirt there, Harrison! BDN Photo

That darn Harry guy ...

Harrison Barnes spurned Duke at the midnight hour and then chose UNC but he didn't exactly do it in what many would consider proper decorum.  His clunky Skype lives as a reminder to other stars not to go that route and few have done so since that time.  Interestingly, Barnes immediately starting loathing Duke after his decision and he is perhaps one of the more detested Tar Heels for Blue Devil fans.  But Barnes leads his team in scoring and the talk in media rooms is if the Tar Heels will get four players on first team All ACC.  Barnes is a huge matchup problem for Duke and any other team and he took a mild shot over the bow as he mentioned that Kyle Singler was gone and that he'd gladly take shorter players to the rack.

On paper it looks like a UNC win

Everything points to a UNC victory in paper.  Duke has lost two of their last three conference games in Cameron and Krzyzewski has been looking for upper classmen to step up.  UNC has up to four 1st team All ACC players starting. That game is in Chapel Hill and the Blue Devils seem to still be coming together as a team.  But you know what?  Duke has a chance any time they step on the court.  Duke has been beat down of late but if the team plays together anything can happen and that's why we watch the games.  My objectionable pick would be for the Tar Heels to win but my heart says Duke can pull off a shocker and make all the aforementioned worries go to the wayside.

Don't hold me to all the numbers mentioned for everything here was off the top of my head and just random thoughts before tonight's game.  BDN will be in the house to bring you live tweets and post game chats with the players, so stay tuned for our usual wall to wall coverage.  And yes, I am homer media, so I can get away with saying, "GTHC, GTH!"  It should be a lot of fun as the best rivalry in all sports is once again upon us.