Thu, 27 Jun 2019

No. 2 Duke ending homestand against Princeton

Sports Xchange
18 Dec 2018, 13:45 GMT+10

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke was on such a roll before a layoff for exams that the second-ranked Blue Devils might not have wanted a break.

But now there's business for coach Mike Krzyzewski's team to tend to before another gap in the schedule.

"Come back and finish off these two games before Christmas," Krzyzewski said of the objective for this week.

It begins with Tuesday night's home game against Princeton. Duke will face a top-10 showdown with undefeated Texas Tech on Thursday night in New York.

Duke (9-1) leads the country in scoring margin (plus-27.2 per game) and blocked shots (7.5). This wraps up the Blue Devils' five-game homestand that hasn't had a result closer than a 21-point whipping of Indiana at the start of the stretch.

"I know that the crowd can really help us in games, especially like this, where we're playing really good teams," Duke forward Jack White said. "They give us energy and we feed off that. ... If you're the opposition in here, you almost feel like everything is against you when we're like that and when the crowd is like that."

Princeton (5-4), which marks the second straight Ivy League team to visit after Duke drilled Yale 91-58 on Dec. 8, has had up and down results but there are signals that the Tigers might be coming together.

Princeton freshman guard Jaelin Llewellyn is averaging 19.5 points across two games after missing the first seven games because of illness or injury.

Llewellyn poured in 22 points in Saturday's comeback victory against Iona in Atlantic City, N.J.

"We missed him," Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. "We missed him bad for a while. He changes our whole dynamic. He changes our whole group."

Senior guard Devin Cannady is the team's most accomplished player, rating eighth in career scoring for the Tigers with 1,373 points.

Cannady said playing alongside newcomers -- including freshman forward Drew Friberg -- who contribute has been encouraging.

"They don't seem like freshmen out there," Cannady said. "They're comfortable. They're playing their game and I love the lift they give us."

The recent layoff from games for Duke might have been a good recovery period for freshman guard Tre Jones, who seems to be ailing at some point in each game.

Krzyzewski said Jones banged knees and got hit in the quad in the last game. He said Jones' tenacity tends to mean he's going to put his body on the line regularly.

"He'll be fine," Krzyzewski said.

This is Duke's final non-conference home game prior to Atlantic Coast Conference play, though St. John's visits in February.

"Princeton returns a lot of guys," Krzyzewski said. "This has been good for us. We'll get to see who we are before we take a break for Christmas, analyze what we're doing and make the appropriate adjustments as we get into the ACC."

Duke's final exams wrapped up Monday, while Princeton doesn't take first-semester finals until January.

Duke is 18-1 in the series with Princeton, winning the most-recent meeting in November 2010. For that game, Duke held the No. 1 national ranking.

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