Trying to Regroup

Duke is trying to regroup before starting its ACC schedule. Practice often helps, but all it's done so far this week is leave the Blue Devils without their starting center.

With Brian Zoubek out indefinitely after breaking his left foot, the ninth-ranked Blue Devils look to bounce back from a sloppy game when they face Temple on Wednesday night in their final tune-up before ACC play.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Duke –12 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 94% of bets for this game have been placed on Duke -12 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

After suffering its first loss of the season on Dec. 20 against then-No. 11 Pittsburgh, Duke (11-1) came off a long layoff to beat Cornell 81-67 on Sunday. Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski, however, was not happy with several miscues in that win, especially with ACC play beginning Sunday versus Virginia.

Krzyzewski felt his team wasn't aggressive enough on loose balls, and wasn't discussing its mistakes.

"It starts with guys like me ... to make sure and enforce that everyone's talking on the court," Duke senior guard DeMarcus Nelson said. "Talk is something you think is not a big deal, but it's huge in the game of basketball."

The Blue Devils were coming off a 16-day layoff - their longest in-season break since 1945-46 - which may partly explain their lack of focus. Duke was trying to correct its mistakes back at practice Monday when Zoubek got hurt, one day after making his second start of the season.

Zoubek likely won't require surgery, but it's uncertain when he will return. The 7-foot-1 sophomore broke the same foot during a pickup game in July, had surgery two days later and missed 10 weeks.

"This is a setback for Brian and for the team," Krzyzewski said. "He worked hard to recover from the injury over the summer and was beginning to solidify his role with the team. We have total confidence that Brian will recover from the injury and return as soon as he is physically able."

Zoubek, who started two of the last three games, is averaging 4.3 points and 3.7 rebounds and leads the team in field-goal shooting at 59.5 percent.

Duke's depth took yet another hit, with swingman Martynas Pocius undergoing season-ending ankle surgery Tuesday. Pocius, a junior reserve, averaged 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in four games. He originally injured his left ankle while playing in Lithuania over the summer and re-injured it Nov. 25 during a win against Eastern Kentucky.

The Blue Devils, however, remain one of the deeper teams in the country. They have four players with double-digit scoring averages.

Nelson, who is one 3-pointer shy of becoming the 19th Duke player to reach 100, is averaging a team-high 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. Blue Devils forward Kyle Singler, averaging 13.4 points, was named ACC rookie of the week for the third time after scoring 14 points against Cornell.

That duo will likely play a large role in trying to stop one of the country's top scorers in Temple's Dionte Christmas, who is tied for the Atlantic 10 lead with 20.9 points per game.

In his most recent outing, Christmas tied a season high with 32 points for the Owls (6-6) in an 86-69 loss to two-time defending national champion Florida on Dec. 29.

"Scoring 32 points and losing doesn't mean anything," said Christmas, who is averaging 6.5 rebounds and has made a team-high 38 3-pointers. "I would have felt better if I had scored two points in a win."

Christmas had a team-high 15 points against the Blue Devils on Jan. 2, 2007, but the Owls lost 73-55. Duke has won seven straight against Temple and leads the all-time series 16-9.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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