November 24, 2015

After concluding a demanding week away from home on a positive note, Duke would seem to have a good opportunity to fine-tune some things during a mostly favorable five-game stretch at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

That begins Wednesday night when the sixth-ranked Blue Devils face Yale.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski looked more drained than his players after Duke's 86-84 victory over a one-win Georgetown team in Sunday's title game of the 2K Classic in New York.

"We think we know how to win, or we're trying to figure out how to win," said Krzyzewski, whose next victory will be No. 950 with the Blue Devils. "Three hellacious games in six days is a heck of a thing for our team.

"We've got to fight for everything, and we've got a lot of growth (ahead)."

After shooting 40.7 percent in last Tuesday's 74-63 loss to current No. 1 Kentucky in Chicago, the Blue Devils (4-1) shot 48.6 percent against VCU and the Hoyas to win the event. Despite Georgetown shooting 54.9 percent and owning 34-24 advantage in the paint and forwards Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee fouling out, Duke went 28 of 36 from the free-throw line and received another stellar effort from Grayson Allen.

After going 2 of 11 for six points against Kentucky, the sophomore guard earned tournament MVP honors by scoring 30 on VCU and 32 against the Hoyas. Averaging 24.4 points after playing 9.2 minutes per game last season, Allen went 18 of 27 from the field and hit 9 of 14 3-point attempts in those two games.

''I think the performance he had this weekend was unbelievable," Jefferson said. "He's been amazing.''

With Allen and Plumlee beginning their first seasons as full-time starters and prized freshmen Brandon Ingram and Derryck Thornton also expected to provide major contributions, these Blue Devils have plenty to learn.

At least in the eyes of their coach

"All these guys have to be given an opportunity to grow," Krzyzewski said. "They're all adjusting ... We're a good team. We hope to be a really good team, but we're not this juggernaut."

Though the Blue Devils might not reach that status any time soon, the learning continues during a less pressure-filled home stretch against Yale (3-1), Utah State, No. 13 Indiana, Buffalo and Georgia Southern. None have faced a ranked opponent and Indiana suffered its first defeat to Wake Forest in Maui on Monday.

Playing its first ranked opponent since losing at then-No. 19 Connecticut in November 2013, Yale nearly pulled off the upset in Sunday's 71-69 loss to a SMU team that moved into the Top 25 this week. Makai Mason had a game-high 24 points for Yale, which led by as many as 10 and went 9 of 20 from 3-point range but couldn't keep the Mustangs from hitting half of their 56 attempts and scoring 23 points off 16 turnovers.

"I'm proud of my teammates," Yale guard Nick Victor said. "It was a good experience for us and we've got to learn from it."

Though the Bulldogs likely gained some confidence from that effort, their margin of error will be even smaller against a Duke program that's won a NCAA-best 118 straight nonconference home games. The Blue Devils are 3-0 against Yale, last meeting in December 1973.

Mason averages a team-high 20 points and is tied for the lead with 4.3 assists.

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