Battle in The ACC

Duke managed to pick up some momentum heading into its conference schedule, but coach Mike Krzyzewski is hoping his team is healthy enough to weather a run through the ACC.

The ninth-ranked Blue Devils play their first league game of the season on Sunday when they host Virginia.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Duke -14.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Duke -14.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Duke (12-1) beat Temple 74-64 on Wednesday, winning its second straight after its only defeat of the season, a 65-64 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 20. After a long layoff following that defeat, the Blue Devils beat Cornell 81-67 last Sunday.

Krzyzewski wasn't pleased with his team's effort against Cornell, and Duke went eight minutes without scoring in the second half against the Owls. But the Blue Devils still managed to hand Krzyzewski his 787th win, moving him into sixth place on the career wins list.

Krzyzewski, who started his coaching career at Army, is the third winningest active coach.

"I've been lucky to have coached great players and win games at two great schools," Krzyzewski said.

The Blue Devils also got their first win without center Brian Zoubek, who is out indefinitely after breaking his foot during practice on Monday. Zoubek averaged only 4.3 points but leads the team with a 59.5 field goal percentage.

In addition, Martynas Pocius, a junior reserve, underwent season-ending ankle surgery on Tuesday.

"I'd like to be healthier going into the ACC," Krzyzewski said. "Our kids are in shape, they play well. ... They're a real together group.

"We're not a real strong, physical team, so we have to shoot the ball, play collective defense, and the big guys that we have have to get healthy."

Taylor King had 15 points off the bench, and DeMarcus Nelson and Greg Paulus each had 13. Nelson is scoring 13.7 points per game, leading five Duke players averaging double figures.

The Blue Devils rank second in the ACC with 85.4 points per game.

"We're getting there," Paulus said. "We just need to play off each other more."

Duke lost 68-66 in Virginia on Feb. 1 in the only meeting between the teams last season, ending a nine-game winning streak in the series. Including that game and a 75-72 win over then-No. 17 Arizona on Nov. 17, the Cavaliers (10-3) have won their last four games against ranked opponents.

However, Virginia hasn't won in Cameron Indoor Stadium since a 91-88 double overtime victory in 1995.

"They're scoring the basketball the way they have in the past, averaging 85 or 86 points a game, while not losing anything on the defensive end, and that has really helped them," coach Dave Leitao said.

The Cavaliers have not played since falling 108-70 at Xavier on Jan. 3, ending a four-game winning streak. Virginia allowed 100 points for the first time since a 110-76 loss to North Carolina on Jan. 29, 2005, and Leitao hinted that he might make some changes in his lineup.

"They're a team that was very ready and very good, against a team that was not very ready and right now is not very good," Leitao said.

Sean Singletary had 14 points for the Cavs. Singletary, the ACC's top returning scorer, is averaging a team-high 17.8 points this season.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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