Penn-Duke Preview

Duke hasn’t had too much difficulty handling its past three

opponents. Its next one probably won’t give much resistance

either.

Before opening ACC play, the seventh-ranked Blue Devils host

winless Penn on Thursday night as they try for a fifth straight

victory.

With plenty of chances to rest this month, Duke (10-1) has

thrived since losing 73-69 at Wisconsin on Dec. 2. The Blue Devils

bounced back Dec. 5 with a nine-point home win over St. John’s and

seemed to benefit from a nine-day break before a 113-68 rout of

visiting Gardner-Webb.

They followed that easy win with a 35-point victory over

then-No. 15 Gonzaga on Dec. 19 in New York, and they got another

nine-day break before Tuesday night’s 84-63 home win over Long

Beach State.

Duke’s backcourt of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith again led the

way in that victory.

Scheyer had a team-high 22 points and six 3-pointers, and he’s

averaged 26.0 points over the past three games while making 15 of

25 attempts from beyond the arc.

Smith, who had 19 points and matched a career high with four

3-pointers, has knocked down seven of 10 shots from long range

while averaging 18.0 points in those blowout victories.

The guards also combined for 14 assists and no turnovers in the

latest win.

“We are just playing together and not trying to force anything,”

Smith told the school’s Web site. “We are just letting it come to

us. The passes that we are making are very easy passes. It is just

happening.”

The duo will try to help Duke extend a few home win streaks

Thursday. The Blue Devils will attempt to earn their 76th straight

non-conference victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium, their 49th in a

row in December and 36th consecutive win against an unranked

team.

While it might get a challenge when No. 21 Clemson visits Sunday

to open conference play, Duke shouldn’t have a problem against the

Quakers (0-8), who will play their second game under interim coach

Jerome Allen.

Allen, who took over for the fired Glen Miller on Dec. 14,

didn’t have much luck turning around the team’s shooting woes in

his debut Monday night at Davidson.

Penn, among the nation’s worst teams with a 39.2 shooting

percentage, made a season-worst 33.9 percent of its shots in a

79-50 loss. Sophomore guard Zack Rosen was the only player in

double figures with 14 points, extending his streak of scoring 10

or more to six straight.

Rosen is averaging a team-best 14.8 points, and the only other

Quakers player scoring more than 10 per game is junior forward Jack

Eggleston (13.0).

Duke holds an 8-6 lead in the series and has won five straight,

including 72-59 at home Dec. 7, 2005.

Penn’s previous win over the Blue Devils was 50-49 in overtime

at Cameron Indoor on Dec. 7, 1971, and the Quakers have lost 25

straight to Top 25 teams since beating Temple on Nov. 23, 1998.