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Postgame Wrap: Thoughts on Duke's Loss to Illinois

Blue Devils drop to 2-2 for worst start in 21 years

Duke dropped to 2-2 on the season with a loss to Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, 83-68.

The loss snapped an eight-game Duke winning streak in the Challenge.

This is the first time Duke has opened a season at 2-2 since it dropped the first two games of the 1999-2000 season.

The Blue Devils also lost last week, to Michigan State, in the Champions Classic. It’s the first time Duke has had two home losses to non-conference foes since the 1982-83 season.

The Blue Devils saw the return of several problems that cropped up earlier in the season. Duke hit just 27 of 67 shots for 40.3 percent. That included 5-of-22 from three. The Blue Devils shot 5-of-23 in the Michigan State loss.

Duke went into the second half without a made three, missing its first 12 attempts. The Blue Devils have gone nearly 1,100 games with a three-pointer, and DJ Steward kept the streak going, hitting with 13 minutes remaining.

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Duke has six freshmen, but several of the returning players have not been able to lead on the court, because they’ve struggled in the first few games. Joey Baker, expected to be one of the team’s best outside shooters, missed his only three-point attempt in the game and is 1-of-9 from three on the season.

Wendell Moore, who has also struggled, was dropped from the starting lineup and played just seven minutes, missing all three shot attempts.

Matthew Hurt continued to be one of Duke’s top scorers, with a team-high 19 in the game, but the team needs to find another reliable, consistent scorer, especially in a game like this one, where Hurt picked up his third foul midway through the first half and also struggled with his shot, misting all six three-point attempts.

Duke also had trouble stopping Illinois. The Illini hit 6-of-8 from three in the first half and 7-of-11 for the game. They also hit 58 percent from the field.

Duke limited turnovers, something that’s also plagued the Blue Devils at times, but Illinois still managed to build a 24-8 edge in fast break points.

As coach Mike Kryzewski said in his postgame remarks, “A lot of work to do.”