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Duke slams Pitt, but road woes remain

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Duke fell to unranked N.C. State on the road, the team’s second conference loss away from home in a row this season and the program’s fifth in a row going back to last year. It is a concerning pattern for Mike Krzyzewski’s group as it continues to adapt and find an identity through the one-and-done era. For almost every player on the roster besides Grayson Allen, the trip to Boston College was their first time they had played in a hostile Atlantic Coast Conference gym in their careers. Coaches can talk all they want about how intense it will be, but until they experience it themselves they’ll be knocked back a bit, to steal a phrase from Coach K. The game against the Wolfpack was seemingly a big wakeup call for the team, as it responded in a big way on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh.

PANTHERS ROUTED

The 35-point margin of victory was Duke’s largest conference road win since February of 1999. Marvin Bagley III wasn’t even born yet when Duke beat Virginia 100-54. While it could portend good things for a team like the Blue Devils, who lost to two unranked opponents on the road already, it may also not mean much as Pittsburgh is one of the worst teams in the conference.

Offense continues to hum

Duke’s offense is clicking on all cylinders, as the Blue Devils are putting up efficiency numbers not seen since the 2015 Wisconsin team. It is putting up an astounding 1.27 points per possession, and have faced some of the country’s toughest defenses.

BUT DEFENSE STRUGGLES

On the other side of the ball, Duke’s inexperience and lack of cohesion continues to cause issues. While the Blue Devils have the most efficient offense in the country, they own the No. 94-ranked defense in terms of efficiency. It has continued to get worse throughout the year, and Duke has allowed over 90 points in three of its four ACC road games to date.

Tough schedule coming up

Duke returns home to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday at noon after a two-game road trip, hosting Wake Forest in a matinee game before heading on the road to battle No.18-ranked Miami. It will be a pivotal stretch for a team reeling with injuries to two of top reserves — center Marques Bolden and power forward Javin DeLaurier.

ALLEN CLOSE TO HURLEY

With eight points against N.C. State and 11 points against Pittsburgh, Grayson Allen is close to passing his next target in the Duke career scoring record books. He currently sits at 1,687 points, just 50 points behind Bobby Hurley. At this point, almost all of the guys in front of him have their jerseys retired in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Next in his sights are:

17. Nolan Smith, 2008-11 1,911

18. Dick Groat, 1950-52 1,886

19. Jeff Mullins, 1962-64 1,884

20. Bob Verga, 1965-67 1,758

21. Bobby Hurley, 1990-93 1,731

Top recruits on ESPN

Duke has two signees in the top three of the 2018 class rankings, and they’re both going to be playing on the ESPN family of networks this weekend. Other Duke targets will also be in action during the Hoophall Classic from the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. — No.3-ranked Zion Williamson (Spartanburg Day vs Chino Hills, ESPN)

Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. — Top-ranked R.J. Barrett (Montverde vs Mater Dei, ESPNU)

Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. — Top-ranked (2019) Vernon Carey Jr. and No. 8-ranked (2020) Scottie Barnes (University School, ESPNU)

Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. — No. 2-ranked Cameron Reddish (Westtown, ESPNU)

Coaching changes for football

David Cutcliffe made wholesale changes to the Duke football coaching staff with the ability to add a 10th assistant and the requirement to replace Marcus Johnson as the offensive line coach. Headlined by promotions for Kirk Benedict and Gerad Parker to assistant coaching positions, Cutcliffe also reorganized duties for a number of his assistants. Benedict was elevated from graduate assistant coach to assistant coach/special teams and defense and Parker transitioned into an assistant coaching role and will mentor Duke’s wide receivers. That meant Jeff Faris moved from wide receivers to tight ends (adding recruiting coordinator for the offense to his duties), Jim Bridge moved from coaching tight ends and special teams to offensive line and Matt Guerrieri added recruiting coordinator duties to the defense. Jim Knowles, Duke’s defensive coordinator since 2010, was promoted to assistant head coach and Derek Jones, on the Duke staff since 2008, was promoted to assistant head coach, defense.

Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.

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