No. 20 Duke returns to action against Pittsburgh

·3 min read

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said this year's team isn't the type to just blow through the opposition.

After nearly a two-week layoff, the No. 20 Blue Devils will begin to find out what kind of firepower they have for the bulk of the Atlantic Coast Conference season when they face visiting Pittsburgh on Tuesday in Durham, N.C.

"We're not any kind of juggernaut," Krzyzewski said. "We can be a good team. But in order to be a very good team, it's going to take some seasoning because it's not like the teams we've had over the last number of years. It's got to be brought along a little bit of a different way."

The Blue Devils (3-2, 1-0 ACC) went into the break coming off a 75-65 victory at Notre Dame on Dec. 16. That made them 31-10 in ACC openers under Krzyzewski.

But other than the coach, Duke has a team largely needing to prove itself.

"It's called experience, and that's why you see the veteran teams doing so much better than the younger teams, unless a younger team has exceptional talent," Krzyzewski said. "Sometimes our teams get away with that, but our team has good talent -- not exceptional -- and so we just need to keep learning through the experience of playing these good teams."

Normally, a visit from former Duke player and assistant coach Jeff Capel, the coach at Pittsburgh, would bring great fanfare at Cameron Indoor Stadium. But fans aren't permitted at the venue because of the pandemic.

And Capel's status seems uncertain given he missed last week's 64-54 home loss to Louisville because of a positive coronavirus test. The school announced Capel's positive test Dec. 19.

Associate head coach Tim O'Toole was in charge when the Panthers (5-2, 1-1) had a five-game winning streak snapped against the Cardinals. O'Toole once sat on the Duke bench as a staffer under Krzyzewski.

Pitt shot a season-low 42.1 percent on free throws and was outrebounded by 45-26 vs. Louisville.

"There's absolutely zero feeling sorry for yourself," O'Toole said. "These things that we did, we need to correct because what awaits us is Duke."

The Panthers were in their first game without Justin Champagnie (17.8 points, 12.3 rebounds), who's out for up to two months with a knee injury, and Anthony Toney (16.2 points), who had an ankle injury. Nike Sibande, who made 95 career starts for Miami (Ohio), and Noah Collier were used as starters.

"We can't sulk," Pittsburgh freshman guard Femi Odukale said. "Everybody's got to step up now."

Duke never trailed in the Notre Dame game. The Blue Devils received 18 points from Matthew Hurt, a sophomore forward who logged a career-high 38 minutes.

"We will watch the (bad parts) and keep moving game to game," Hurt said.

Duke announced in mid-December that it would no longer play non-conference men's games this season. Since then, the Duke women's basketball team, which has been on a coronavirus-related pause, revealed it has canceled the remainder of its season. So far, the school has said that decision wouldn't impact any of the university's other sports.

--Field Level Media