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‘Zags hand Blue Devils first loss

By Adam Rowe Special to the Times
Posted 11/22/18

Duke is now 5-1 after the Blue Devils logged wins over two top-10 teams in their first five games, only to fall to No. 3-ranked Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational championship game. Before losing to …

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‘Zags hand Blue Devils first loss

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Duke is now 5-1 after the Blue Devils logged wins over two top-10 teams in their first five games, only to fall to No. 3-ranked Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational championship game. Before losing to Gonzaga, a game in which it never led, Duke had dominated every opponent except for No. 8-ranked Auburn. In Tuesday night’s Maui Invitational semifinal — a game where Duke had leads of 17 and 14 points — the Tigers kept hovering around eight to 10 points for nearly the entire game. Until Wednesday night, Duke had trailed for just 35 seconds of game time in its five wins, including never trailing to No. 2-ranked Kentucky or Auburn.

WILLIAMSON LIMITED  IN MAUI OPENER

Williamson rocketed out of the gate in his first three games, winning ACC Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week after his first two games and tying a record (with his teammate RJ Barrett) for the most points by a Duke freshman through three games. Against San Diego State in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, Williamson failed to cross the 20-point mark for the first time at Duke as he played just 18 minutes in a blowout win.

BOLDEN'S COMING OUT PARTY

The potential has always been there for Marques Bolden to be an integral piece of Duke’s success, but on Tuesday night, it looked like he finally realized all the expectations that have been surrounding him since he was the top center coming out of high school in the 2015 class. Bolden set career highs in minutes (25), blocks (seven) and nearly hit a triple-double with nine rebounds and 11 points in his best game in a Duke uniform.

DUKE LANDS BOOGIE ELLIS

Four-star guard Boogie Ellis announced his intention to commit to Duke two weeks ago, finalizing the Blue Devils’ backcourt/wing pieces to their 2019 recruiting class with verbal commitments from both he and Wendell Moore. Ellis gives Duke an elite-scoring guard who can play either the one or the two, and provides some insurance should Tre Jones elect to enter the NBA Draft after just one season in Durham.

ISAIAH STEWART OFFICIAL VISIT UPCOMING

Duke is hoping to secure a commitment from five-star big man Isaiah Stewart when he officially visits Durham this upcoming weekend. Despite being in Maui all week for the Maui Invitational and Thanksgiving falling on Thursday, Duke is hosting Stewart for his fifth and final official visit. Mike Krzyzewski and Jon Scheyer long ago identified Stewart as one of their top post targets in the 2019 recruiting class, hosting the No. 6-ranked player in the nation for an unofficial visit during the Duke-UNC game last year. The Blue Devils are currently an underdog in the 247Sports Crystal Ball, with 31 percent of the picks pointed towards Duke but 44 percent pointed towards Michigan State. Stewart has said he wants to make a verbal commitment soon after his visit to Duke, but will sign in the spring signing period in April.

FOOTBALL CLINCHES WINNING SEASON

With the win over North Carolina two weekends ago, Duke secured a winning regular season with a 7-3 record. It did fall to Clemson last week to move to 7-4, but the Blue Devils have an opportunity to notch an eighth win as they host Wake Forest this weekend on senior day in their regular season finale. The team will then await their bowl game destination, which will no doubt be a better spot if they beat the Demon Deacons to move to 8-4. 

DOMINANCE OVER UNC

Duke’s victory over the Tar Heels extended its winning streak to three games, the longest such streak in the series since the late 1980s. 

David Cutcliffe has Larry Fedora’s number at this point, and the Blue Devils’ relative place in the ACC picture is much better than UNC’s moving forward.

INJURIES AND RECOVERIES

Linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and safety Dylan Singleton missed the game against Clemson this past weekend, becoming the 13th and 14th members of the roster with starting experience to miss a game for the Blue Devils this season. Giles-Harris and Singleton joined linebacker Ben Humphreys, offensive tackle Jaylen Miller, running back Brittain Brown, cornerback Michael Carter II, defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord, cornerback Mark Gilbert, center Zach Harmon, safety Jordan Hayes, quarterback Daniel Jones, defensive end Drew Jordan, safety Jeremy McDuffie, linebacker Koby Quansah and wide receiver Aaron Young.

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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