No. 24 Duke has shown the ability to recover from disappointments, which is one of the team goals on Wednesday when the Blue Devils welcome Pittsburgh to Durham, N.C.
“I think we’re just going to keep learning from each and every game and just keep trying to grow,” Blue Devils forward Mark Mitchell said.
Duke (12-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) had a harrowing week, suffering a blowout loss to North Carolina State and escaping with a one-point victory at Boston College.
Duke is 6-0 in games following a regular-season loss by 20 or more points in the past 25 years. So the result against the Eagles was at least encouraging for the Blue Devils.
The Panthers (11-5, 4-1) were off to their best ACC start until Saturday’s 75-74 home loss to first-place Clemson.
“Really proud of our group,” Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel said. “This will help us as we move forward and look forward to the next.”
This Pittsburgh-Duke game will be ripe with coaching connections. Capel and Duke’s Jon Scheyer are former Duke players and ex-assistant coaches for the Blue Devils, both considered prime candidates to take the top position when Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski retired. That job went to Scheyer, as Capel already had moved on to Pittsburgh.
Duke will likely be without guard Jeremy Roach, who sat out Saturday with an aggravation of a toe injury sustained in late November.
“We need Jeremy to get well,” Scheyer said. “If that means it’s a week, if that means it’s two weeks, whatever time that means. I’ll be shocked if he plays the next game, but we’re not ruling that out yet.”
So the Blue Devils are counting on an even younger backcourt group to keep it together while Roach is out or limited. Those players came through against Boston College.
“It’s not like they played a perfect game or whatever, but that’s not what we expect,” Scheyer said. “I thought Tyrese (Proctor) was aggressive. Jaylen (Blakes) is going to be a key guy for us no matter what.”
After Boston College made a comeback, Duke used a 2-3 zone to slow down the Eagles. That was a switch for the Blue Devils, but they want to have options.
“It’s important to have some different pitches,” Scheyer said. “We’re a man-to-man team, that’s what we want to play, but depending on the opponent and the swing of the game, just to have a different defense.”
Pittsburgh has won 10 of its last 12 games, with both defeats coming by one point.
“It’s really cool to be in a moment like this,” Capel said of an electric atmosphere, something that ought to be on display Wednesday night at Duke as well.
“Hopefully, we can continue to play well and have more moments like (these big games).”
Jamarius Burton of the Panthers has scored 20 or more points in three of the team’s ACC games this season.
–Field Level Media