No. 12 Duke hosts Boston College without Krzyzewski (Jan 07, 2017)

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke looks to take the next steps in what has been a challenging stretch when it plays Saturday afternoon without its coach on the bench at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The game against Boston College marks the first assignment for the No. 8 Blue Devils (13-2, 1-1 ACC) since coach Mike Krzyzewski’s surgery Friday morning on his lower back. He’s expected to miss about a month.

Associate head coach Jeff Capel steps in as the interim coach.

“We have tremendous coaches,” freshman forward Jayson Tatum said of the staff. “I don’t think it will be that much different.”

Capel has been a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and Oklahoma. That background combined with his sixth season on the Duke staff is what gives him confidence to handle the weeks ahead.

“It’s not as difficult because of Coach,” Capel said. “He has told me repeatedly to be myself, to trust my instincts.”

Duke players said they’re so familiar with Capel and assistant coaches Jon Scheyer and Nate James that they anticipate a smooth transition.

“Coach Capel is going to be a very good coach for us and we’re confident we’re going to be the same team moving forward,” said guard Grayson Allen, who returned to active status Wednesday night after a one-game suspension for his third tripping incident in 11 months.

Capel, a former Duke player, filled in for one victory last season when Krzyzewski was ill.

After Wednesday night’s 110-57 smashing of Georgia Tech, Krzyzewski said the parts had been put in place by getting freshman forward Harry Giles in the starting lineup for the first time and Allen back from the indefinite suspension that lasted one game.

“A lot of stuff looked good (Wednesday) night, but we have to keep working at it and getting better,” Capel said. “… Having Grayson back is big for our team. He’s healthy now and he’s coming off maybe his best game of the season or one of his best games of the season.”

Boston College (8-7, 1-1) has led at halftime of both its ACC games, but after blowing out Syracuse, the Eagles dropped a 79-66 decision Tuesday night at Wake Forest. So Saturday’s game will be the second in a row in North Carolina.

“One thing I love about this group (is) even when we lost game we know we should’ve won, or played poorly, we always bounced back,” Boston College coach Jim Christian said. “That’s a true testament to the kind of guys we have on our team.”

This is a return to the home state for Boston College sophomore guard Jerome Robinson and freshman guard Ky Bowman, who lead the team in scoring with 20.6 and 11.9 points per game, respectively. One of them has led the Eagles in scoring in all except two games.

Bowman has been named the ACC Freshman of the Week in the last two weeks.

“He has got such a good mentality,” Christian said. “That’s why he’s going to be a huge, huge piece of our team moving forward.”

Duke leads the all-time series 19-2, including 10 victories in a row.