November 28, 2015

A young Duke squad was challenged in the opening half in its latest game and could get another test against an unbeaten team.

Utah State, though, hasn't seen an opponent anywhere near the No. 6 Blue Devils' caliber and will be trying for its first road upset of a ranked team in 24 seasons Sunday.

Duke (5-1) has won its first three home games by a combined 75 points, but the latest was much tougher than the first two. The Blue Devils trailed 9-0 in the first 2 1/2 minutes and led by just two at the break before pulling away to beat Yale 80-61 on Wednesday.

"We're young, and I thought we were tired from (last week's 2K Classic in New York). They made us more tired," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It's going to be tough to get them all to play at the consistent level that we would like. We've got to play with energy and hopefully we have enough to win as we're getting better."

Matt Jones had a team-best 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting while sophomore Grayson Allen was held to 14 after scoring at least 30 in wins over VCU and Georgetown last weekend. Freshman Derryck Thornton totaled 33 points in those games but had just six Wednesday.

"We've got a lot of growing up to do. That will be a cool thing to grow with this team," Krzyzewski said. "We're playing good teams and we'll play another on Sunday, too. ... They're undefeated so we've got to keep growing."

Utah State is 4-0 in longtime assistant coach Tim Duryea's first season leading the program after 17 campaigns under Stew Morrill. Only half of the Aggies' wins have come against Division I teams, including an 81-55 victory over Utah Valley on Tuesday to conclude a three-game homestand.

Utah State has lost 11 in a row to ranked teams since a 79-77 win over No. 10 Nevada on March 9, 2007. The Aggies have dropped 11 consecutive road games versus Top 25 opponents since a 74-72 victory at No. 10 Utah on Dec. 10, 1991.

The highest-ranked team they've beaten on the road was also the Utes, who were No. 5 in Utah State's 73-61 victory in January 1960.

Utah State has never faced the Blue Devils, who have won an NCAA-best 119 consecutive non-conference home games dating to a loss to St. John's on Feb. 26, 2000.

"Duke is the gold standard in how hard you play, how hard you compete and everything that is good about college basketball," Duryea said. "We are thrilled to be here and I think our guys will respond to the challenge and be ready to go."

Two Duke freshmen who have strongly preferred playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Brandon Ingram is averaging 17.0 points in three games there, compared to 5.7 in three neutral-site games on 5-of-20 shooting. Freshman Luke Kennard has 12 points on 2-of-14 shooting over those three games but has totaled 32 points at home.

Chris Smith leads the Aggies with 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 60.5 percent. Junior Lew Evans had 15 points and a career-best 14 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench Tuesday.

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