Duke back home to host South Dakota
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke is back home after a whirlwind opening three weeks of the season.
The No. 1-ranked Blue Devils have logged more than 8,500 miles, with the reward being a 9-0 record and various experiences.
Duke takes on visiting South Dakota on Saturday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium following four consecutive games away from home.
“It’s good to be back to Durham with nine wins,” reserve center Marques Bolden said.
South Dakota (7-2) also has had a busy opening stretch. Coming off Thursday night’s 82-63 victory at Missouri-Kansas City, the Coyotes will play their fifth consecutive game away from home with the assignment at Duke.
The Blue Devils have trailed in the second half of their past four games, but they tend to have the right finishing touch.
“I’d prefer us to play like that from the beginning and for 40 minutes,” Duke senior guard Grayson Allen said. “But I think you can see, when you’re watching out there that our intensity picks up in those final few minutes.”
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has talked regularly about the grueling nature of the schedule’s opening stretch.
Even with fatigue evident to Krzyzewski, he used three players for 38 minutes or more Wednesday night against Indiana, while foul trouble limited forward Wendell Carter Jr. Allen played all 40 minutes.
Aside from Allen, Duke’s freshmen have carried the load. Forward Marvin Bagley III has swept ACC Player of the Week and ACC Rookie of the Week honors twice already. Bagley has racked up seven double-doubles.
This looked like a challenging assignment for South Dakota even before it became clear how strong Duke’s freshman class would be.
“When we scheduled this game (and) after we signed (the contract), then they signed three potential lottery picks,” Coyotes coach Craig Smith said of Duke’s freshman class. “But that’s OK. … We’re going there to win, and they’re awfully good, obviously.”
Playing inside Cameron Indoor Stadium, where Duke has won its last 136 nonconference games, has been identified by the Coyotes as one of the highlights on their schedule.
“It’s iconic. The history. The nostalgia,” Smith said. “The energy, the juice.
“This game is going to make us better in every way, shape and form. The experience of playing in that kind of hostile environment. But I know our guys are absolutely jacked and pumped and stoked about this opportunity.”
South Dakota’s losses have come by 76-71 at TCU and by 63-62 at Northern Colorado.
In the Coyotes’ most-recent game, they were charged with just 12 turnovers despite Missouri-Kansas City’s pressing defense.
“Our team did handle the press very, very well,” Smith said.
This marks the first meeting between Duke and South Dakota. Still, Smith pointed out a similarity between the teams.
“They’ve been through the ringer just like us in terms of nine games,” he said.
Duke is 9-0 to start a season for the fourth time since the 2010-11 season, and 16th time under Krzyzewski. In 14 of those seasons, the Blue Devils have reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 or beyond.