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In one of the most anticipated non-North Carolina games of Duke’s basketball season, No. 2-ranked Virginia rolled through Cameron Indoor Stadium and left with a hotly contested two-point win over then No. 4-ranked Duke.
The Blue Devils uncharacteristically turned the ball over frequently on the way to their lowest scoring first half in the 2017-18 season, managing just 22 points to the Cavaliers’ 32.
But in the second half, Duke’s high-powered offense showed up as the team briefly regained the lead. However, Virginia’s stingy defense forced multiple Duke turnovers and got some clutch 3-point shooting down the stretch to come away with a 65-63 win.
Although the result wasn’t what head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s group wanted, the basketball media realized that the loss is not a larger indicator of the team’s worth.
Duke stayed ranked at No. 4 and is still poised to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with just nine games left in the regular season.
Just two days after dropping an emotional loss to Virginia, Duke was back at it on Monday night against Notre Dame. Another big second-half explosion put the Fighting Irish away for good, as the Blue Devils rolled by 22 points. It was the first time this calendar year that Duke had all of its players available, as sophomore center Marques Bolden saw his first action since Dec. 30 against Florida State. The addition of Bolden to Duke’s bench rotation of he, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier, Justin Robinson, Jack White and Jordan Goldwire gives Coach K a lot of lineup flexibility. With the big game from White against Notre Dame, Krzyzewski may just have found another secret weapon like he did with Brian Zoubek during the 2010 national championship run.
Trent’s shot is hot
It’s hard to imagine with all of the talented shooters to come through Duke University over the years, but Gary Trent has now tied the freshman record for most 3-pointers (six) in a game four times this year. He is on an incredible streak, having made 45 of his last 87 three-point attempts (51.7 percent), and recorded his first career double-double against Notre Dame with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
another Top-15 recruit?
Duke already has commitments from the No.1-ranked player in the senior class (R.J. Barrett), the No. 2 (Cameron Reddish), No. 3 (Zion Williamson) and No. 9 (Tre Jones), but apparently that’s not enough for Coach K and his staff. Duke is now making a serious push to land the No. 12-ranked player in the country according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, power forward E.J. Montgomery. The Blue Devils will lose their top two starting big men this year, Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter, to NBA early entry. Thus, adding another big in the 2018 recruiting class is considered to be a top priority now that Duke has the top-ranked player at each of the other positions on the court.
Football set to host top target
The 2018 recruiting class for Duke football is nearly complete, but David Cutcliffe and his staff are looking to add one more player to their haul. Three-star 2018 defensive back Kendrick Torain hosted cornerbacks coach Derek Jones and running backs Coach Re’quan Boyette, a product of Fike High, for in-home visits twice this past week, welcoming Cutcliffe and safeties coach Matt Guerrieri for another visit the second time Jones and Boyette returned to Tampa, Florida. Torain, the No.70-ranked cornerback in the country, will officially visit Duke this weekend as the lone remaining target for Duke in the 2018 class. He is expected to commit to the Blue Devils either before or on National Signing Day, this coming Wednesday, Feb. 7. Duke’s small class currently sits at No. 62 in the country and No. 13 in the ACC, but does have a high average ranking per commit.
Cutcliffe looking for new Defensive Coordinator
For the first time in nearly a decade, David Cutcliffe will be looking to replace his defensive coordinator as Jim Knowles was hired away by Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy on Monday night. Cutcliffe, notoriously quiet about his coaching searches, has not tipped his hand as to what direction he’ll look to replace Knowles, but most expect him to promote from within. Defensive line coach and assistant defensive coordinator Ben Albert is favored to get the job.
Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.