Duke made up for its worst shooting performances in a victory in nearly 60 years with another exemplary night on defense.
Defense is also a big reason the Blue Devils are 10-0 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Sixth-ranked Duke puts its undefeated record on the line when it takes on Wisconsin on Wednesday night in the team’s first true road game of the season.
Duke (6-0) and Boston College are the only teams to never lose in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, which the ACC has dominated, winning all 10 events.
Last season, the Blue Devils easily won 76-60 at Purdue, holding the then-No. 9 Boilermakers to 37.3 percent shooting. They’ve held their last three Big Ten opponents in the event below 60 points, including an 82-58 home win over Wisconsin in 2007, and haven’t given up more than 77 in any of the 10 games.
Duke is 3-0 in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games away from home heading into its first trip to Madison.
The Blue Devils look to continue demonstrating the tough defense they’ve relied on this season. They’ve held opponents to 58.2 points per game and are among the Division I leaders in field-goal percentage defense at 35.7.
Duke held then-No. 13 Connecticut to 36.1 percent in a 68-59 win in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday, helping make up for its own 29.2 percent shooting. It was the first time Duke won a game shooting under 30 percent since a 68-53 victory over Navy on Feb. 4, 1950, when the Blue Devils shot 27.3 percent.
“Our defense was really great and it had to be since we shot the ball so poorly,” said Jon Scheyer, who scored 19 points. “Defense won this game and our big guys rebounded huge for our team.”
The Blue Devils still can be very dangerous offensively and their depth could be a big challenge for Wisconsin. Duke has four players averaging in double figures, including three that are scoring more than 15.0 points per game.
Nolan Smith, suspended for the first two contests for playing in unsanctioned summer league games, is averaging a team-leading 18.5 points. He scored 16 on Friday despite shooting 5 for 22.
Scheyer, meanwhile, is the only Duke player to score in double figures in every game. He’s averaging 16.8 points and shooting 14 for 35 (40 percent) from 3-point range.
Wisconsin (4-1) is 4-6 in the Challenge, including 3-1 in Madison. The Badgers are playing at home in the event for the first time in three years after defeating Virginia Tech 74-72 in 2008 and losing to Duke the previous season.
Wisconsin returns home after taking third place in the Maui Invitational last week. The Badgers lost in the semifinals 74-61 to Gonzaga, which was unranked at the time but went on to win the event and is now ranked 17th, before bouncing back with a 78-69 win over then-No. 21 Maryland last Wednesday.
After being held to averages of 63.0 points and 37.5 percent shooting in their first two games of the tournament, they shot 49.1 percent against the Terrapins, going 10 of 22 from 3-point range.
Jason Bohannon scored a season-high 20 points, making four 3-pointers, while Trevon Hughes, averaging a team-leading 14.2 points, added 14.
“Maybe the learning curve here, with the experience that they have gained, will help them,” coach Bo Ryan said. “I am hoping that is a big part of it.”
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