One good part about the early slate of games for No. 5 Duke is that the Blue Devils have found different ways to adjust when their shooting strokes have been off the mark.
They’ve also seen what can happen when a player or two gets into a groove.
This stretch of the season comes to a close with Monday night’s game against The Citadel in Durham, N.C. It wraps up a five-game homestand for the Blue Devils (5-0).
Citadel (3-1) already owns a victory against an Atlantic Coast Conference team this season. The Bulldogs won at Pittsburgh, which is coached by former Duke player and assistant coach Jeff Capel, in the opener.
The latest sharp shooting for Duke came from freshman reserve AJ Griffin, who bagged four 3-point baskets as part of an 18-point outing Friday night in an 88-55 victory against Lafayette.
Griffin barely played the last two years in high school because of injuries. He also was sidelined for part of the preseason because of a knee injury.
“Just keep coming and he’ll make us better,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Griffin’s role.
On Friday night, it was good for the Blue Devils to have a player get a hot hand. They shot just 33.3 percent from the field in the first half. That included 4-for-16 on 3-pointers.
“It would have been nice to hit a 3 rather than have it bounce all over the place,” Krzyzewski said.
Griffin’s shooting gave Duke a second game in a row with a freshman going 4-for-6 from deep after Trevor Keels connected at that rate against Gardner-Webb.
The Blue Devils have had seven different players with at least one double-figure scoring outing this season.
But Duke’s biggest consistency might be coming on defense. No opponent has shot 40 percent or better.
For the season, Duke is plus-60 in points-off-turnovers, outscoring foes by a combined 98-38 in that category.
Citadel’s victory at Pittsburgh came by a 78-63 score. Games such as that one and the matchup with Duke are worth savoring for the Bulldogs.
“For those guys who come in and beat an ACC team is pretty special to them, and as a coach is really special to me to have that happen for them,” Citadel coach Duggar Baucom said.
More recently, the Bulldogs ran away from Carver 102-49 on Thursday night. So there have been a variety of levels of opponent for Citadel across the first couple of weeks of the season.
The underdog mentality might suit Baucom’s teams best.
“We’re always going to be the smallest dog in the fight almost everywhere we play, even in our own league (Southern Conference),” he said. “I always tell our guys, ‘Let’s use that to our advantage.'”
The key will be adjusting if Duke storms out at the beginning with an early burst of energy.
“Anytime we play a guarantee game like this, you have to get off to a good start,” Baucom said.
Duke has won all nine previous meetings with The Citadel, though the teams haven’t met since 1993.
–Field Level Media
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