Duke had little trouble beating Michigan once already this season.
The No. 4 Blue Devils look to do it again while trying for an eighth straight victory over the host Wolverines on Saturday in the teams’ second meeting in over two weeks.
Duke (8-0) beat Michigan 71-56 in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic on Nov. 21 at Madison Square Garden.
The Blue Devils were expected to be in the finals, but Michigan (5-2) pulled off a 55-52 upset of then No. 4 UCLA in the tournament semifinals. Last season, their first under coach John Beilein, the Wolverines were 10-22.
“They’re better, and the more that John has his kids playing his system, the better they’re going to be,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose teams have scored 104 points each in winning its last two trips to Crisler Arena.
Duke recorded a 21-point victory in its most recent trip to Ann Arbor on Dec. 8, 2001.
While Michigan is much improved from last season, it will be in for another challenge trying for its first victory over Duke since Robert “Tractor” Traylor led the Wolverines to an 81-73 win over the then-No. 1 Blue Devils on Dec. 13, 1997, at Crisler.
Point guard Nolan Smith scored 16 points and 2K Classic MVP Kyle Singler added 15 and eight rebounds as Duke shot 48.0 percent against Michigan and its tough 1-3-1 zone defense that stymied UCLA.
“Preparation with this team is huge,” Singler said of facing the Wolverines. “We just put that game plan to use on the court—play hard and execute as much as possible.”
Manny Harris, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21.3 points per game, had 25 on 6-of-12 shooting against the Blue Devils, who held Michigan to a season-low 35.2 percent shooting last month.
“Give them credit,” Beilein said of the Blue Devils, whose opponents are shooting 38 percent against them. “They are no slouches defensively.”
Both teams enter this game coming off games that were part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Duke improved to 10-0 in those contests after winning at No. 9 Purdue 76-60 on Tuesday.
Singler had 20 points and 12 rebounds while junior guard Jon Scheyer also had 20 for the Blue Devils, who opened with a 7-0 lead in passing their first test against a ranked team in their first true road contest of the season.
“For us, we knew coming on the road, it’s huge to get off to huge starts, and that’s something we were really focused on,” Scheyer said.
Singler, the team leader with 17.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest, posted his second double-double of the season.
Michigan couldn’t hold a six-point halftime lead in falling 75-70 at Maryland on Wednesday. Harris had 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting and forward DeShawn Sims added 12 and seven rebounds as the Wolverines couldn’t overcome a 43-26 disadvantage on the boards.
“We are still searching for the right mix,” Beilein said. “I’m still not sure what it is, but we will find it.”
Michigan has lost five straight home games against Top 25 opponents since beating then-No. 24 Indiana 58-55 on Feb. 17, 2007.