No. 7 Duke looks to rebound at Louisville (Jan 14, 2017)
No. 7 Duke visits No. 14 Louisville in the KFC Yum Center in a game that features two extremely motivated teams. Tip-off is set for noon (ESPN) in Louisville, Ky.
The Blue Devils (14-3, 2-2 ACC) are coming off a loss at Florida State and want to get back in the win column. Louisville (14-3, 2-2) is coming off a win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, but that game saw the Cardinals have a second-half collapse when they nearly lost a 26-point lead.
"The first half, we had a brilliant performance defensively, brilliant performance offensively, said a fired-up Louisville coach Rick Pitino after Wednesday night's game. "Second half, very poor performance from both ends of the floor."
Pitino said if the Cardinals want to have a hope of winning the ACC title, they must hold serve at home.
"We've got a big game coming up against Duke," Pitino said. "We know that. We know they can shoot the ball at a lot of different positions."
Pitino said his team is a collection of athletes right now. Despite the record, Pitino questioned his squad's basketball IQ and said they have a lot to learn.
"We don't have a whole lot of time with Duke coming in here and the type of schedule we play, but we'll keep working at it," Pitino said. "I'm very, very lucky in the fact that they may be good athletes, but they also just want to learn. They want to get better. They want to give a lot of hustle to our basketball team, but we've got to work on the fundamentals to improve. ... Once we learn the fundamentals, we won't be as offensive challenged."
Assistant coach Jeff Capel continues to guide the Blue Devils while coach Mike Krzyzewski recovers from back surgery. Capel said the Blue Devils are expecting a tough road environment Saturday.
"That is the nature of the league, we prepare for it like any other game," Capel said. "We are in a very tough league and so every game is going to be very high-level game, but this why these kids choose to play in the ACC because they want to play against that competition."
Louisville is a newcomer to the ACC, but the Blue Devils and Cardinals have already had some memorable battles.
Duke star Grayson Allen has been involved with two incidents with Louisville players in the last season. At Duke, Allen was called for a trip after he flailed and caught Louisville power forward Ray Spalding with his leg.
During the game at Louisville last season, Allen and Louisville power forward Jalen Johnson battled for a loose ball. Allen caught Johnson with his forearm and Johnson hit Allen with an elbow before referees whistled the play dead. Allen had 29 points the last time he played in the KFC Yum! Center, a 71-64 Louisville win.
Since then, Allen has been involved in two other incidents of tripping. He was suspended after the second one, and returned to Duke's lineup a game later. Allen said he learned his lesson.
"I guess it's just trying to find that balance," Allen said following Duke's win against Georgia Tech. "Like I said, I can do a much better job of (controlling my physicality) when everything is just focused on what we're doing ... not worrying about any foul calls, missed shots, physical play, anything like that."
Allen will be matched up with Louisville guards Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell leads the ACC in steals.
The Blue Devils likely won't have starting power forward Amile Jefferson, who continues to sit with a bone bruise in his right foot. That means the rest of Duke's big men must step up.
"Everybody had to play bigger. Everybody had to rebound more since we were down a big man," freshman Jayson Tatum said. "We just had to adjust."