Mike Krzyzewski

Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski shouts to the court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Syracuse at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Syracuse defeated Duke 64-62. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
AP Photo/Ben McKeown

‘Under the weather’ Krzyzewski to miss Duke’s game at Georgia Tech

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Duke, which fell out of the national rankings for the first time in eight years Monday, will be without head coach Mike Krzyzewski Wednesday night as they take on Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

According to the school Krzyzewski is “under the weather,” and as a result he did not make the trip south with the team. The head coach met with doctors following the team’s meal Monday night, and they advised him not to make the trip. According to a report from ESPN.com, Krzyzewski remained at Duke University Hospital overnight Monday with a battery of tests revealing that he was suffering from dehydration.

Associate head coach Jeff Capel will serve as acting head coach against the Yellow Jackets.

Duke has lost four of its last five games and is still without senior forward Amile Jefferson, who hasn’t played since December 5 against Buffalo due to a foot injury.

Lack of front court depth, rebounding cost No. 9 Duke

Duke players Brandon Ingram (14), Luke Kennard (5) and Matt Jones (13) walk off the court following an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016. Notre Dame beat Duke 95-91. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
Associated Press
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With their lack of depth, No. 9 Duke is bound to have some issues to navigate on the defensive end of the floor. With just one dependable big man in Marshall Plumlee with Amile Jefferson still out with a foot injury, there’s only so much the Blue Devils can do when faced with a productive big man. Against Notre Dame that “big” man was 6-foot-5 power forward Bonzie Colson, who came off the bench and put forth the best performance of his career in a 95-91 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Colson scored a career-high 31 points, shooting 12-for-19 from the field, and also grabbing 11 rebounds. Colson was effective setting screens for the Notre Dame guards, most notably Demetrius Jackson, and either rolling to the basket or popping out for perimeter shot opportunities. But where both he and Zach Auguste, who finished with nine points (would have been more if not for his issues finishing around the basket) and 14 rebounds, hurt Duke the most was on the offensive glass.

Eight of Colson’s 11 rebounds came on the offensive end, and the Notre Dame front court tandem combined to grab 12 of the team’s 16 offensive rebounds. Those were converted into 18 second chance points, a key reason why Notre Dame attempted 16 more field goals. And for a team that lacks depth as Duke does, that extra time spent defending can add up by game’s end.

So what can Duke do at this point, with the timetable for Jefferson’s return still being undefined? Most likely, they’ll have to ask for even more from already productive players such as Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen.

In theory a coach would like to be able to look down the bench and grab another big man capable of helping out for a few minutes here and there. But neither Chase Jeter nor Sean Obi have shown themselves capable of doing so to this point in the season. That leaves Mike Krzyzewski stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to his rotation. Plumlee finished with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks, doing a good job of making many of Auguste’s attempts around the basket difficult, and Luke Kennard chipped in with eight rebounds in addition to his career-high 30 points.

But with just one bonafide big man, closing out possessions and defending ball screens will be tough for Duke, which has looked to mix in some zone in recent games. If Duke is to remain part of the ACC race until Jefferson returns, the guards will have to contribute even more on the glass. And even if that does happen, it may not be enough as Duke doesn’t have a big man capable of defending ball screens at Jefferson’s level.

Second-half offense, foul trouble cost No. 9 Duke at Clemson

Duke's Grayson Allen, center, struggles with Clemson's Avry Holmes, left, and Sidy Djitte for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Associated Press
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Another day, and another team ranked in the top ten takes a loss. Wednesday night it was No. 9 Duke’s turn, as the Blue Devils struggled not only with foul trouble but offensively as well in the second half of their 68-63 loss to Clemson.

Brad Brownell’s Tigers, who put together a rather nondescript résumé in non-conference play, has now beaten ranked teams in consecutive games for the first time since 1989 and they’re 4-1 in ACC play. The game turned with Duke big man Marshall Plumlee picked up his fourth foul with just over ten minutes remaining in the second half. From there the Blue Devils had to call upon freshman Chase Jeter, who promptly picked up his third and fourth fouls shortly after replacing Plumlee.

Clemson was able exploit Duke’s front court foul trouble, whether Duke was playing man or using a 1-3-1 or 2-3 zone. The Tigers found gaps in both zones, getting on a roll offensively that proved too much for the Blue Devils to overcome. It goes without saying that, even with their success in recent weeks, Duke misses Amile Jefferson. He was their most reliable front court option before going down with a foot injury, and his absence makes it even more important for Plumlee to remain out of foul trouble and he’s avoided that issue in most games.

That didn’t happen against a Clemson front line that featured Jaron Blossomgame, Landry Nnoko and Donte Grantham, with Blossomgame accounting for 17 points and six rebounds, Grantham adding 16 points and Nnoko posting a double-double of 12 points and 13 boards.

What was of greater issue for Duke was the offense, as they struggled to establish much of a flow in the second half. Clemson was able to keep Blue Devils other than Grayson Allen under wraps for most of the second half. Allen shot 5-for-6 from the field and scored 12 of Duke’s 28 second-half points; his teammates combined to shoot 6-for-19. And with the Tigers being one of the nation’s best at not sending opponents to the foul line (13th in defensive free throw rate), the visitors were unable to find many points from the charity stripe (2-for-7 FT) to make up for those scoring woes.

Duke’s second half performance is concerning, as their depth issues aren’t going to change until Jefferson returns and even then they’ll still lack much margin for error when it comes to either fouls or injuries. Clemson’s front court took advantage of this, and with their guards stepping forward to hit some big shots late the Tigers were able to pick up a second consecutive win over a ranked opponent.