Elon-Duke Preview

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski said he considers tying Dean Smith for

No. 2 on the career wins list a major accomplishment. He also said

it’s not something he’s focusing on.

Perhaps he is more concerned with making sure his team continues

to thrive without starting point guard Kyrie Irving.

While trying to give Krzyzewski his 879th victory that would tie

him with the former North Carolina coach, the top-ranked Blue

Devils look to keep rolling without their injured freshman star

Monday night against Elon.

“(Tying Smith is) obviously a heck of thing, but … I have

never really dwelled on anything like that, number of national

championships or number of wins,” Krzyzewski said of Smith, his

longtime rival with the Tar Heels. “You have to play like you have

something to prove every game, and I try to coach like it’s the

first game that I’ve coached at Duke or at Army or whatever, and

whatever happens after that, happens.”

What has happened is the Blue Devils (10-0) have not missed a

beat since Irving went down. The freshman, averaging a team-best

17.4 points, has missed two games and is out indefinitely with his

right foot in a hard cast.

Nolan Smith has taken over Irving’s ball-handling and

distributing role and helped Duke to a pair of lopsided victories

in his teammate’s absence. He had a team-best 22 points and five

assists in an 84-78 victory over Saint Louis on Dec. 11, a game

after scoring only two points but registering a career-high 10

assists in an 83-48 victory over Bradley on Dec. 8.

Irving’s replacement in the lineup, sophomore Andre Dawkins, had

two points versus the Billikens but scored a career-high 28 in his

first career start Dec. 8.

“Certainly, with Kyrie going down, it changes our team,”

associate head coach Chris Collins said. “He was such a dynamic

player when he had the ball, and we opened the floor and we kind of

played off him doing his thing. Now, we have to change the way we

do things, especially offensively, and a lot of that is predicated

on those two guys (Smith and Kyle Singler) being really


Duke should have a good chance to keep winning with Singler

sidelined against Elon (4-6), which has beaten one Division I

opponent this season. The Phoenix earned that lone victory –

against Gardner-Webb on Dec. 7 – during their third win streak over

the past two seasons.

Elon couldn’t make it three straight victories Friday, falling

71-65 at home to Southern Conference rival Chattanooga. Freshman

guard Jack Isenbarger, averaging a team-best 14.9 points, was the

only Phoenix player to score in double figures with 22.

Duke has won 13 of 18 all-time meetings with Elon, the last

coming on Jan. 2, 1936. The Blue Devils have taken 45 straight

games against Southern Conference opponents and an NCAA-best 83 in

a row at home against non-conference foes.