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Blue Devils still hampered by injuries as postseason looms

Duke Notebook

By Adam Rowe

Special to the Times
Posted 3/2/17

Duke has had injured basketball players more often than the Blue Devils have had healthy ones this season — with a brief oasis of about two games where they had all hands on deck available for practice. But then the injury bug struck again, as …

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Blue Devils still hampered by injuries as postseason looms

Duke Notebook

Posted
Duke has had injured basketball players more often than the Blue Devils have had healthy ones this season — with a brief oasis of about two games where they had all hands on deck available for practice. But then the injury bug struck again, as Grayson Allen rolled his ankle in a win Feb. 11 against Clemson and Amile Jefferson continued to be hampered by a bone bruise suffered in mid-January.

Now, about to head into the postseason Allen is missing time (he sat the entire game in Duke’s loss at Miami on Saturday) and Jefferson is barely able to run, according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Fortunately for the No. 17-ranked Blue Devils, they’ll have a break from Saturday’s regular-season finale against North Carolina until they open play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament (either on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, depending on seeding) and then get another break before the NCAA Tournament.

SENIORS HONORED

Duke honored co-captains Matt Jones and Jefferson after the Blue Devils defeated No. 15 Florida State 75-70 on Tuesday night, the team’s last regular-season home contest of 2016-17. The two-time (Jones) and three-time (Jefferson) captains leave a legacy of winning behind at Duke and Jefferson’s name dots the Duke record book in a number of categories. But they’re not the only ones who likely played their last games in Cameron. Allen, sophomore Luke Kennard and freshmen Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden are all likely to put their names in the NBA draft and see what kind of feedback they receive before deciding to forgo eligibility in favor of of the next level. Next season will be a much different looking roster, but this year’s not over just yet.

TAR HEELS UP NEXT

Despite all of Duke’s struggles this season, it has still won the most important game on the schedule thus far — an 86-78 win over then No. 8 UNC on Feb. 10 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. That proved to be a signature win for the Blue Devils and one that came in the middle of a seven-game winning streak.

Now, the Blue Devils need a win at UNC to cement a top-4 seed in the ACC Tournament and to give themselves a shot at a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Getting two wins over their rival will make up for a lot of disappointment that has afflicted this Duke Basketball season.

SEEDING UP IN THE AIR

With the win over Florida State, Duke helped itself tremendously in NCAA Tournament seeding, but still has some work to do for a double bye in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils are currently tied for fourth place with FSU and are just a half-game back from Louisville and Notre Dame. The Cardinals and Fighting Irish play each other Saturday night, so one will take a loss. Duke needs to get a win at North Carolina to secure a double bye.

FOOTBALL GETS 3RD COMMIT

Jake Bobo, a 6-foot-4, three-star wide receiver from Belmont, Massachusetts in the class of 2018, committed to Duke this past weekend over offers from Wake Forest and Boston College, among others. He’s the first offensive skill player commitment for Duke in this class, and gives quarterback Daniel Jones a big target through the air.

Duke’s also hoping for good news later this week when Tahj Rice, a four-star defensive end from Louisville, Kentucky, makes a public commitment. Rice, also in the class of 2018, released a top-5 list this week of Duke, Louisville, Oregon, USC and Virginia Tech.

BAMBA TAKES HIS VISIT

Duke is hosting Mohamed Bamba for his fourth official visit this week, and the 6-11, 207-pound big man from New York City is one of the top targets remaining on the board for the Blue Devils in the current senior class. He’s ranked third overall in the class of 2017 and the second-highest rated power forward, although he’s expected to play center in college. Word is that the visit couldn’t be going any better.

Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.

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