December 14, 2015

Duke got some much-needed time off for exams after opening with nine games in 23 days that saw the team play in Durham, Chicago and New York.

The seventh-ranked Blue Devils have another trip to the Big Apple scheduled this week, but they first host another well-rested team in Georgia Southern on Tuesday night.

Duke (8-1) started with games on consecutive days at home as part of the 2K Classic before heading to Chicago and suffering a 74-63 loss to then-No. 2 Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic.

The 2K Classic then shifted to Madison Square Garden, where the Blue Devils beat VCU and Georgetown to win the title before returning home for four straight games prior to getting a break for exams.

''The early part of the season has given us an opportunity to put our team in some very tough situations,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ''Travel, tough opponents, exam period. ... So when we started, we hit the ground running.''

All that action caught up to Duke on Dec. 5 as it shot a season low-tying 40.7 percent, but it held Buffalo to 33.3 percent from the field in an 82-59 victory.

''We looked tired offensively in the first half. We were just chaotic,'' Krzyzewski said. ''We looked tired ... and they worked themselves through it.''

Freshman Brandon Ingram had 23 points after scoring a season-best 24 in the previous win over Indiana in The ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and leading scorer Grayson Allen added 22.

''This was a long, extended stretch of quick turnarounds, of learning about one team and the next day having to learn about another group - always being locked in, mentally as well as physically,'' senior forward Amile Jefferson said.

The opening stretch has appeared to taken a toll on Jefferson, who is out indefinitely with a right foot injury. He has started each game while averaging 11.4 points and a team-best 10.3 rebounds.

Georgia Southern (3-4) has been off even longer, last playing Dec. 2 when it lost 76-67 at Savannah State to end a two-game winning streak in which it averaged 94.0 points.

Mike Hughes hit a late 3-pointer and top scorer Tookie Brown made a pair of free throws with 51 seconds left to pull Georgia Southern within two, but Savannah State hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining to seal the win.

''I would've loved for our guys to have been able to pull this one out, but it was a tough environment, tough situation,'' coach Mark Byington said. ''We're the youngest team in the country, and so it's hard to put these guys in this but when you put them in a situation like this, they're going to learn from it.''

The next environment is even tougher for the Eagles as Duke has won 122 consecutive nonconference home games by an average of 26.8 points since the start of the 2000-01 season.

The Blue Devils have won both meetings in this series, with the last coming in November 2008 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That was Georgia Southern's last matchup with a Top 25 team, and the Eagles are 1-10 all-time against ranked squads with the win coming over Southern Illinois in 1976.

Following this game, Duke returns to MSG to face Utah on Saturday in the Ameritas Insurance Classic.

You May Like