No. 1 Duke goes for 11th win vs. St. Francis (Pa.)
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke has yet another piece of history to promote going into Tuesday night’s game against St. Francis (Pa.).
The Blue Devils (10-0) remain the top-ranked team in the country and that’s even more notable now. Duke has tied the NCAA record for most weeks at No. 1, matching UCLA’s mark of 134.
“We’ve just got to make sure we lock in,” Duke forward Marvin Bagley III said of the team’s steady diet of games.
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Bagley, a freshman, is the Atlantic Coast Conference leader in scoring and rebounding with 22 points and 11.2 boards, respectively. He has eight double-doubles, including in each of the last five games.
“I’m just playing basketball,” Bagley said. “I’m just trying to go and play basketball. Whatever play is the right play, I’m going to try to make it. I’m going to keep playing the way I’ve been playing and try to get better.”
Duke has used a variety of combinations of players on the court in some games. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said while much emphasis naturally goes to the starting five, it’s important that reserves develop as well. With that, Alex O’Connell, Javin DeLaurier and Marques Bolden are among the players who’ve had expanded roles.
“It’s a little bit of a reality check for a kid coming off the bench,” Krzyzewski said.
Senior guard Grayson Allen said having more players ready for bigger roles should be a benefit.
“It helps with developing guys coming off the bench,” Allen said. “(It) helps continue getting them minutes, getting them comfortable in the game and just continuing defensively. As a young team, getting our good habits on defense.”
The game against St. Francis marks Duke’s 262nd all-time while holding the No. 1 tag. This is the Blue Devils’ last outing before an ACC matchup at Boston College on the weekend.
St. Francis (3-4) is coming off Saturday’s 85-83 loss at Stony Brook despite junior guard Andre Wolford making 8 of 11 shots from 3-point range for a career-high 26 points.
The Red Flash might have to upgrade their ball-handling against Duke’s athletic team at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“Free throws and taking care of the basketball are two things that I think we will be very good at over the course of the season but they were two areas where we struggled (against Stony Brook),” said coach Rob Krimmel, a former point guard at the school.
The Red Flash went 17-17 last season for their most victories in 19 years. The only other time St. Francis played a top-ranked team, it resulted in a 1974 loss to Notre Dame.
For St. Francis, this will be its second game against an ACC member this season, after an 84-72 loss at Louisville on Nov. 24.
“We hadn’t faced a team like Louisville with the length and the athleticism and their ability to pressure the basketball,” Krimmel said after that loss. “… Our margin for error in a game like this is very slim.”
This will be the first meeting between the Blue Devils and Red Flash.