January 10, 2015

(AP) - Frustration is starting to mount for Duke.

The ACC's ''Sportsmanship Week'' didn't get off to the best start with questions about a lack of postgame handshakes by coach Mike Krzyzewski after the No. 20 Blue Devils lost their third straight Monday.

Following that 64-62 defeat to visiting Syracuse, Krzyzewski skipped a few Orange players during the handshake line - a move that was caught by television cameras and almost immediately went viral on social media.

The handshakes - or lack of them - appeared to be an indication of how frustrating it's been lately for the Blue Devils (14-5, 3-3) as they get set to visit North Carolina State (11-8, 1-5) on Saturday.

This is the lowest they've been ranked in two years, and they are on their longest losing streak since a four-game slide to end the 2006-07 season - also the last time they fell out of the Top 25.

Duke's most recent three losses were one-possession games in the final minute - but the game-winning plays were made by Clemson, Notre Dame and Syracuse.

''That's kind of the situation we're in right now,'' guard Matt Jones said after Monday's game. ''We have to learn how to push through that, and we're getting a heavy dose of that right now.''

Against the Orange, the Blue Devils trailed by one point in the final seconds when Jones and Syracuse's Malachi Richardson collided while chasing the tapped-out rebound of Grayson Allen's missed layup. No foul was called on the play, nor was one whistled when Jones appeared to be tripped behind the midcourt stripe as he hurriedly tried to take a desperation heave at the buzzer.

Afterward, Krzyzewski shook some Syracuse hands before skipping six Orange players, rejoining the handshake line and finally looking around the court for someone - possibly one of the game officials - before having a conversation with ACC basketball administrator Paul Brazeau on his way off the floor.

It was a bizarre bookend to a game that started with the teams shaking hands as part of the league-sponsored show of sportsmanship.

But the Blue Devils' problems extend beyond a possible postgame slight.

During Duke's recent slide, two of its biggest issues - a lack of experience and a lack of healthy bodies - have been obvious.

Jones is the only active player who consistently logged significant minutes during the 2014-15 regular season, though Allen came on strong during the postseason run to the program's fifth national championship.

Meanwhile, one of the captains, high-energy forward Amile Jefferson, remains out indefinitely with a broken foot, and the Blue Devils are 6-4 without him.

Duke is pretty much down to a six-man rotation with graduate student Marshall Plumlee as the only true post player.

Krzyzewski described Duke as ''undermanned'' and ''under-aged,'' praising its work ethic and lamenting that, ''We are playing our hearts out, and that has not been rewarded.''

Things could get worse before Duke's efforts are rewarded.

The Blue Devils still have to play No. 2 North Carolina twice. And No. 17 Louisville twice. And No. 13 Virginia. And No. 15 Miami on the road.

''As always, there's a sense of urgency to win, but for some of the younger guys who didn't appreciate that sense of urgency at first, now it should be hitting them hard,'' Plumlee said. ''Coach has been doing this a long time, so he knew right after our first loss. The season is capable of going any which way. He's been really pushing us to give our all, and that's something we need to do a better job of.''

Before visiting Miami on Monday, Duke catches a bit of a break against a Wolfpack team that's struggled in ACC play. North Carolina State, though, is coming off its first conference win and has posted big upsets of the Blue Devils in their last two visits to Raleigh.

North Carolina State beat the No. 1 Blue Devils 84-76 in January 2013 to stop their season-opening win streak at 15, and the Wolfpack defeated No. 2 Duke 87-75 last January after the Blue Devils entered with a 14-0 record.

The Wolfpack lost their first five ACC games by an average of 6.4 points before jumping out to a 44-19 halftime lead and winning 78-61 at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

"I've seen bad teams, we're not a bad team," coach Mark Gottfried said. "But we don't have a lot to show for in the league so far. ... Our guys have kept battling, but we do need to get some confidence. Winning helps you."

Anthony Barber had 31 points Tuesday after scoring a season-low nine in a 67-55 loss at North Carolina last Saturday. Barber leads the ACC with 22.3 points per game, with Duke's Allen right behind him at 20.1.

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