Duke Insider: Blue Devil lineup influx
The Blue Devils are still searching for combinations that are going to work most effectively and that means a revolving lineup at times.
So for the first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season, the Blue Devils sent out a lineup that included two freshman guards.
"I know people think of Duke and we've got these chiseled guys who are All-Americans right away and that doesn't happen," coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
The Blue Devils used only two freshmen in the 81-74 road victory against Georgia Tech. Quinn Cook, who made his first start of the season, and Austin Rivers, who has started all 15 games, combined for 18 points and seven assists.
Cook's role is bound to be more important for the Blue Devils because he tends to be developing a connection with Krzyzewski.
"The way he started was why we started so well, I think," Krzyzewski said.
Cook's development was stunted by a knee injury stemming from last year. Shortly after he arrived at Duke, Cook was put on the sideline for rest and rehabilitation. That led to a limited role during the fall and across the season's first month. Now, he appears up to speed and there's no reason for the Blue Devils to suggest that he'll slow down.
Cook's play-making ability is bound to give Duke a new look in the ACC and a different type of complement for Rivers and Seth Curry in the backcourt.
--F Ryan Kelly has been in and out of the starting lineup. He might be best when coming off the bench if his points production is any indication.
In four games as a reserve this season through Sunday, he scored in double figures each time. That was culminated by Saturday's ACC opener against Georgia Tech because the junior scored a career-high 21 points.
--The Blue Devils have reached the 40-point mark in 13 of the last 14 halves. While the team might be sorting out some defensive issues at times, the ability to score is a key aspect for Duke.
There might be some other areas that need attention because Georgia Tech shot 49.1 percent from the field against Duke. Plus, the Yellow Jackets held a 38-29 rebounding advantage against a Duke team that's expected to be strong in the interior.
"Our foul trouble and lack of defensive rebounding gave us trouble in the first half," coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
--The Blue Devils have played in three NBA arenas during a month's period, the final of those coming in Atlanta's Philips Arena to face Georgia Tech, which is using that facility as one of its homecourts as its campus arena is renovated. The Blue Devils are 3-1 this season in NBA venues. They'll return to Philips Arena in March for the ACC Tournament.
BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Consecutive Duke victories coming in the game following a loss. This was accomplished by winning at Georgia Tech after a defeat to Temple.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
--vs. Virginia, Jan. 12
KEY MATCHUPS: This marks a rare game for the Blue Devils against a nationally ranked opponent since November, and the Blue Devils should have enough ammunition to deal with Virginia F Mike Scott. The Blue Devils' recent emphasis on picking up the pace will be part of the emphasis in this matchup as Virginia won't mind a more deliberate tempo.
--at Clemson, Jan. 15
KEY MATCHUPS: The Blue Devils will play on an opponents' campus for only the second time this season and it's the third outing away from home during a four-game stretch. Duke's interior players will be called upon to make sure some of Clemson's athletic forwards such as Milton Jennings are pushed away from the basket.
FUTURES MARKET: The addition of G Quinn Cook to the starting lineup comes about because the Blue Devils sought a different look in terms of leadership. Cook has been dubbed as the only true point guard on the Duke roster and coach Mike Krzyzewski has a preference for leadership coming from that position. The first start for the freshman came in the ACC opener at Georgia Tech. He responded with five assists and only one turnover in 27 minutes. He tends to be more offensive-oriented than G Tyler Thornton.
C Miles Plumlee continues to lead the Blue Devils in shooting percentage, improving to 68.3 percent after going 3-for-3 from the field at Georgia Tech. Aside from two 0-for-1 outings, he has shot 50 percent or better from the field in every game this season.
F Ryan Kelly shot 14-for-14 at the free-throw line in the victory at Georgia Tech, with 10 of those coming in the last 4 1/2 minutes. That 14-for-14 effort tied for the second-best mark in Duke history behind Dick Groat's 17-for-17 game in 1950.
G Tyler Thornton's shooting touch might be taking some observers by surprise. He's considered a player most valuable on the defensive end. By going 1-for-1 from long range at Georgia Tech, he has made seven consecutive 3-point shots across a four-game period.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"There's no overlooking anything. We're not that good. We're good, but we're not that good to overlook anybody. We'll be in sad shape if we start overlooking anybody." -- Coach Mike Krzyzewski on the Blue Devils opening their ACC schedule against a Georgia Tech team that dropped below .500 with the loss to Duke.