It’s been 11 days since Duke played its last game. That should be plenty of time for the Blue Devils to get over their first loss of the season.
In their first game since Dec. 6, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils look to get back on track as they host North Carolina-Asheville on Wednesday night.
Duke’s undefeated start ended Dec. 6 with an 81-73 road loss to then-unranked Michigan, leaving the Blue Devils (8-1) with a bad taste in their mouths.
“A loss always hurts – non-conference, conference, whatever,” Duke guard Nolan Smith said. “Any time you lose, you want to play the next day.”
Though they’ve been eager to get back on the court, the Blue Devils feel they’ve made the most of their time off, addressing the shortcomings that led to their lone defeat and recommitting to the defense that helped them to their second consecutive 8-0 start.
“We are ready to go,” junior forward Gerald Henderson told the team’s official Web site after Monday’s practice. “Our next game against UNC Asheville should be really good for us.”
According to the team’s site, Duke is 13-1 following a break of 10 or more days under coach Mike Krzyzewski. Their last loss after a layoff that long was at Maryland on Jan. 10, 1981, during Krzyzewski’s first season at the helm.
The Blue Devils hope to continue that success after putting up some uncharacteristic numbers against the Wolverines. Duke entered the game ranked near the top of Division I with 30.3 free-throw attempts per game, but was only 4-for-6 against Michigan.
The Blue Devils also connected on only seven of their season-high 33 3-point attempts. They’re shooting 30.7 percent from 3-point range this season after connecting on 37.7 percent in 2007-08, but don’t sound concerned about those early struggles.
“You keep shooting,” said junior guard Jon Scheyer, who was 7-for-11 from the field against Michigan, but just 1-for-5 from beyond the arc.
“For us I think, myself, Greg (Paulus), Kyle (Singler) and everybody, I think we have a really good shooting team. It is just one of those things where we haven’t shot the ball like we could. We have had a chance this week to get a lot of extra shots up and really get our rhythm.”
That might be easier to accomplish against North Carolina-Asheville, which is giving up 83.2 points per game.
However, the Bulldogs (4-5) delivered one of their best defensive performances of the season Saturday, holding Catawba to 32.5 percent shooting to snap a five-game losing streak with an 84-67 victory.
Senior forward Reid Augst had 20 points and seven rebounds in that game, and is averaging 21.0 points while shooting 52.6 percent (20-for-38) from the field over his last three contests.
Augst’s recent success may be encouraging for North Carolina-Asheville, but the team’s two previous games against ranked opponents certainly aren’t. The Bulldogs were crushed 116-48 by top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 30, before falling 87-69 to then-No. 10 Tennessee on Dec. 3.
This is the first meeting between Duke and North Carolina-Asheville, which is 0-49 all-time against teams from the ACC.
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