Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has put in extra practice time with his team so it can be prepared for any situation. So far, the extra work has paid off.
After winning an early in-season tournament, the 10th-ranked Blue Devils return home looking to win their 63rd straight non-conference game at Cameron Indoor Stadium when they meet Montana on Sunday.
Duke (5-0) defeated Michigan 71-56 on Friday to win the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. Kyle Singler finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and was named the tournament MVP, as the Blue Devils won their four tournament games by an average of 28.5 points.
While Duke made winning the tournament look easy, it took a lot of extra work.
Before Friday’s championship game, Krzyzewski brought his team to the Garden early, so they could practice against the 1-3-1 zone that the Wolverines employ. During the game, the Blue Devils didn’t seem to have much trouble with Michigan’s defense.
“Preparation with this team is huge,” said Singler, who averaged 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in the four tournament games. “We just put that game plan to use on the court—play hard and execute as much as possible.”
Krzyzewski believes with all the practicing and prep work his team does, the Blue Devils will not be caught off guard.
“I don’t think we are in a position to be upset,” Krzyzewski said. “We have to play to win. That is the attitude we have tried to have on our teams all along. Most of the time our teams have exuded that type of attitude. This team we want to have that same attitude.”
With Krzyzewski at the helm, Duke has won 14 straight November games, and 45 of 47 in this month since 1997-98.
The Blue Devils have also been nearly unbeatable at home, where they’ve won 62 straight non-conference games. Duke, which has won 192 of its last 195 home games against opponents outside of the ACC, has not lost to a non-conference opponent at Cameron Indoor Stadium since an 83-82 defeat to St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000.
This will be the first meeting between Duke and Montana (2-1).
The Blue Devils have been winning with defense, as they limited their four opponents in the tournament to an average of 54.3 points on 32.0 percent shooting. They also had an average rebound margin of 15.7 in those contests.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have had success with their offense.
After shooting 37.7 percent in an 85-55 loss at Colorado State in its season opener on Nov. 14, Montana has shot 54.2 percent and averaged 78.5 points in winning its last two games. In Thursday’s 82-65 victory over Mississippi Valley State, the Grizzlies made 9-of-18 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Jordan Hasquet led the way with team highs of 23 points and seven rebounds, while Ryan Staudacher added 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range.
Montana has dropped three straight to Top 25 teams since an 87-79 win over No. 20 Nevada on March 16, 2006 in the NCAA Tournament.