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Duke sluggish, but still undefeated

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After winning what will likely be the most difficult game of the nonconference season, Duke had a bit of a hangover after returning home. It hosted Southern University last Friday night and had its worst half of basketball yet. Grayson Allen went 0-6 from three-point range and scored a season-low 10 points. The Blue Devils still won by nearly 20, but the team was clearly off. Coach Mike Krzyzewski attributed the lack of cohesive play to an inability to practice due to the two days off required by the NCAA.

THREE GAMES IN FOUR DAYS

Starting with the opening game of the PK80 Invitational on Thanksgiving, Duke will play three games in four days over the holiday weekend. Its first op-

was hometown Portland State, followed by Butler or Texas and then whatever team ends up coming out of the other side of the bracket. The tournament, celebrating Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, is a collection of some of the best Nike-affiliated programs in the sport of college basketball. All three of Duke’s games will be televised on ESPN.

ALLEN BANGED UP

After Grayson Allen had his second straight rough outing, Coach K said that Duke held its senior captain out of a few practices this week because he was a little injured. Allen still averaged 29 minutes in the team’s last two games, so he can’t be too hurt. However, he has made just five of 18 shots. Against Furman, he found other ways to impact the game by leading the team in assists with six and notching three steals, but with such a quick turnaround upcoming between games in this week’s tournament, it will be something to keep an eye on.

BIG MEN AMONG NATION’S ELITE

Duke leads the NCAA with 88 offensive rebounds, paced by freshman Wendell Carter’s 20 in five games. Duke’s 227 total rebounds are third most in the NCAA, and they are second nationally in blocked shots with 33. Carter, again leading the team in blocked shots, is fifth nationally. The two freshmen are each averaging nine rebounds a game, which is on pace with Jahlil Okafor’s 8.5 boards in his one year at Duke. Bagley leads the team with 19.2 points a game even though he missed the last 30 minutes of the Michigan State game after getting poked in the eye by teammate Javin DeLaurier.

RECRUITS IN ACTION

Duke commits R.J. Barrett and Joey Baker are both playing in the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament in Atlanta on Thanksgiving weekend, with games live streamed on SUV TV (http://www.thesuvtv.com/holidayhoopsgiving). 2019 targets Vernon Carey and Armando Bacot will also be in action.

FOOTBALL SAVES BOWL CHANCES

With a big win over Georgia Tech in Week 13, Duke saved their bowl chances with the fifth victory of the year. The 43-point offensive explosion stopped a six-game losing streak that had the Blue Devils in danger of missing the postseason for the second consecutive year. A season-high 319 rushing yards allowed the team to maintain a 32:04-27:56 time of possession advantage over option-oriented Georgia Tech, which usually dominates in that stat. They still likely need a sixth win to secure a bowl appearance, although the Blue Devils could potentially sneak into a bowl game at 5-7 if there aren’t enough bowl eligibile teams at 6-6. That’s due to Duke’s stellar performance in the classroom, as their Academic Progress Rate is one of the best in the country.

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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