BATTLE OF BLUES II: Duke out to protect paint against Heels
Duke didn’t take time to review film from Wednesday night’s disheartening loss at Wake Forest.
That’s part of the moving-on process, sophomore forward and team captain Rodney Hood said Friday.
But that doesn’t mean the lessons from that stunning result, when the No. 4 Blue Devils allowed middle-of-the-pack Wake Forest to reel off 17 consecutive second-half points to pull an 82-72 upset.
“Honestly I would have to say, and I think my teammates would agree, that the Wake Forest game was probably our worst defeat of the season,” Duke senior forward Josh Hairston, one of Duke’s three captains, said Friday. “Simply because we, as a group, we knew that we didn’t show up ready to play. That’s just disrespectful to the game. Wake Forest on senior night you knew they were going to come out with everything they had. We basically low-balled the game. We thought that because of who we were, our ranking and everything like that, they were just going to layover for us.”
Clearly, the Blue Devils know that won’t be the case when No.14 North Carolina, its fierce rival, visits Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight (9 p.m., ESPN).
But that’s really not the point of Hairston’s pointed assessment of Duke’s play. The Blue Devils (23-7, 12-5 in ACC) long ago saw their hopes of an ACC regular-season championship disappear.
Road losses at Notre Dame, Clemson, Syracuse and UNC preceded the loss at Wake Forest. While Duke has won 32 consecutive games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, including all 16 this season, a disturbing trend has emerged from those losses.
Duke had a 10-point second-half lead at Notre Dame. The Blue Devils led by nine points in the second half at Clemson. They led by 11 in the second half at UNC. The lead was 66-59 at Wake Forest with 5:44 to play when the Demon Deacons unleashed their 17-0 run to wipe out Duke.
Hood said the Blue Devils didn’t review any film of that 17-0 run. Instead, the looked at the second-half collapse at Chapel Hill on Feb. 20.
“Which was just as bad,” Hood said.
Defense first will be the motto for tonight.
“We have got to protect the basket. It’s as simple as that,” Hood said. “They are a team that scores in the paint, other than (Marcus) Paige and (Leslie) McDonald. We have to protect our basket. We didn’t do that. We had the game in our hands. If we don’t protect the paint, regardless of what we do offensively, if we don’t do that we are going to be in position to lose. We learned that.”
Hairston also wants the team to learn something from the Wake Forest loss before it’s filed away to history.
“For us to go down there to Winston-Salem and play like that,” he said, “it was very disrespectful not only to coach and the coaching staff that prepares us day in and day out, it was disrespectful to our uniform and our university and our fans and everybody. It was a game that should not have gone that way. Wake Forest deserved to win and we didn’t deserve to win.”
Duke has history on its side as it attempts to recover from Wednesday night’s loss. The Blue Devils haven’t lost back-to-back regular-season games since February 2009.
They have also won 32 consecutive home games, the longest active streak in the country. A win tonight would give Duke two consecutive perfect seasons at Cameron Indoor Stadium and give them four unbeaten home seasons in their last five seasons.
But all those nice numbers won’t mean anything once tonight’s game begins. Duke senior guard Tyler Thornton, the third of the three team captains, said the sense of urgency is tantamount.
“Coach told us that every game from here on out, including the Wake game, is a championship game,” Thornton said. “We didn’t approach it that way. It showed and it came back to bite us. The guys understand what coach really meant by that. Moving forward, you can’t afford to have games like that when you don’t come out and get it your all from the beginning. From here on out, when you lose you go home. That’s how we have to approach it.”
GAME NOTES COURTESY DUKE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS
Duke vs. North Carolina
March 8, 2014 • 9 p.m.
Durham, N.C. • Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)
ESPN • Blue Devil IMG Sports Network
The Opening Tip
• In its final game of the regular season, Duke will host Tobacco Road rival North Carolina Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game, a rematch of North Carolina’s 74-66 win in Chapel Hill on Feb. 20, will tip off at 9 p.m. and air on ESPN and the Blue Devil IMG Sports Network.
• Duke climbed back into the Associated Press top five this week, jumping from No. 6 to No. 4 following a 66-48 win over Virginia Tech. Duke, also ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, is 56-13 all-time when playing as the No. 4 team in the AP poll.
• Duke is attempting to close out its 18th undefeated season at Cameron Indoor Stadium and second straight. Duke has won 32 consecutive games at home, the longest streak in the country.
• North Carolina will be the sixth ranked team Duke has faced. Duke is 3-3 against ranked teams in 2013-14 with wins over No. 1 Syracuse, No. 18 Pittsburgh and No. 22 Michigan.
The Last Time Out
• Tyler Cavanaugh scored 20 points and Travis McKie added 19 to lead Wake Forest past No. 4 Duke, 82-72, Wednesday in Joel Coliseum. Wake Forest had five players score in double figures, including Codi Miller-McIntyre, who finished with 13 points, eight assists and just two turnovers.
• Duke led 66-59 with 5:44 remaining, but the Deacons mounted a 17-0 run to stake a 77-66 lead. Wake Forest outscored Duke 23-6 over the final 5:20 of the game as the Blue Devils hit just 2-of-10 field goals during that stretch.
• Duke shot just .222 (6-of-27) from three-point range for the team’s second-lowest three-point percentage of the season. Duke hit just 2-of-12 treys in the first half and 4-of-15 in the second half.
• Jabari Parker logged his fifth straight double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Duke in both categories. Rodney Hood scored 16 points and dished out four assists, while Rasheed Sulaimon added 14 points.
By The Numbers
• The Blue Devils have won 32 consecutive games in Cameron Indoor Stadium, tied for the longest active streak in the country. Duke is just one win away from completing its 18th undefeated season in Cameron, owning a 16-0 record on Coach K Court in 2013-14. Duke also went 16-0 in Cameron in 2012-13.
• Saturday’s game will serve as senior night for Duke’s class of Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston, Tyler Thornton and Todd Zafirovski. Dawkins and Zafirovski were both part of Duke’s 2009-10 NCAA and ACC Championship team, while all four helped Duke capture the 2010-11 ACC Championship and posted a 112-25 record over the past four seasons.
• Duke has lost back-to-back games just once since the start of the 2009-10 season and is 25-1 following a loss during that span. Among Duke’s six previous victories following a loss this season are wins over No. 22 Michigan (79-69), Virginia (69-65) and No. 1 Syracuse (66-60).
• Duke owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.54:1, which would rank as the highest ratio since Duke began tracking turnovers in the 1970-71 season. The Blue Devils logged a school-record 1.51:1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, bettering the previous school record of 1.32 set in 2000-01.
• Jabari Parker leads the ACC with 13 double-doubles and is one shy of tying Duke’s freshman record of 14 set by Gene Banks in 1977-78. Parker has nine double-doubles in his past 12 games and is averaging 16.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in conference play. He leads the ACC in rebounds per game, ranks second in points per game and third in field goal percentage (.483 – 199-of-412).
• Andre Dawkins needs just three points to become the 63rd Duke player to join the 1,000-point club. Dawkins is averaging a career-best 8.4 points per game this season.
• Marshall Plumlee is averaging 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 points and 1.8 blocks over his past four games. Plumlee has 3.5 offensive rebounds per game during that stretch.
• Rodney Hood has logged six of his nine 20-plus-point performances in Cameron Indoor Stadium, including a career-best 30-point outing against East Carolina on Nov. 19. Hood scored 21 against Virginia Tech in his last appearance in Cameron and averages 17.5 points per game on his home court. Only Jabari Parker has more 20-point games in Cameron this season (9).