Duke has played only one true road game thus far but due to its schedule commitments to events such as the Phil Knight invitational in Portland, Ore. last week, few teams have traveled as much or played nearly as often. After a two-day break following their most recent win, the top-ranked Blue Devils return home for the first time in nearly two weeks Saturday when they host South Dakota.
After logging nearly 8,500 miles in November, Duke found enough energy to push through the fatigue that came with playing its ninth game in 20 days on Wednesday, using a late 17-4 run to pull away from Indiana late en route to a 91-81 road victory as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of my team. We are exhausted. They have such a will to win. This is our ninth game in 20 days. Ten of those days we’ve been on the road and five road games and they’re dead right now. I (have) a special group,” Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. As has become the norm, senior guard Grayson Allen (21 points) and freshman forward Marvin Bagley III (23 points, 10 rebounds) led the way offensively for Duke, which is off to its 16th start of 9-0 or better under Krzyzewski. The Coyotes are off to their best nine-game start in nine seasons as a Division I program after defeating Missouri-Kansas City 82-63 on the road Thursday.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA (7-2): Junior guard Matt Mooney (team-high 18.3 points), who poured in a career-high 31 points against TCU in the Coyotes’ only game against a power-conference opponent so far, went off for 30 points on 10-of-14 from the field to pace the Summit League’s second-highest scoring offense (81.3 points). After getting off to a solid start over his first seven outings, second-leading scorer Tyler Hagedorn (13.2 points, 5.1 rebounds) has totaled 10 points over his last two games on 3-for-13 from the floor. Trey Burch-Manning (7.2, 7.8) also hasn’t shot particularly well over the last three contests, but the 6-6 junior pulled down 14 rebounds for the second time in four games versus the Kangaroos.
ABOUT DUKE (9-0): Bagley (team-high averages of 22.3 points and 11.1 rebounds) ranks second in Division I with seven double-doubles and posted his fourth consecutive one Wednesday against the Hoosiers, finishing with 23 points and 10 boards while playing at least 38 minutes for the third straight game. Fellow freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. (13.3, 9.4) is keeping pace with his classmate despite averaging only 25.7 minutes, however, as the 6-10 Atlanta native has five double-doubles to his credit after his 18-point, 12-rebound showing versus Indiana before fouling out. Another freshman, Gary Trent Jr. (12.2 points), joins Allen (17 points per game) and Trevon Duval (13.3 points, team-high 6.4 assists) in double figures and has converted 22 consecutive free throws.
1. All 14 of Duke’s double-doubles this season have come from freshmen and is tied for the third-most by a freshman class in a season in school history.
2. The Coyotes rank seventh in the country in total rebounds (365) and 21st in field-goal percentage defense (37.1).
3. Outside of a 10-for-23 effort against Florida on Nov. 26, the Blue Devils shot a combined 10-for-53 beyond the arc in the other three contests they played away from home since Nov. 20.
PREDICTION: Duke 95, South Dakota 72