For an encore, Wofford will try to take down another Atlantic Coast Conference traditional power.
The Terriers, who are fresh off Sunday’s conquering of undermanned and then-No. 17 North Carolina — visit fourth-ranked Duke on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
“Boy did we play well again,” said Wofford coach Jay McAuley told reporters Sunday.
Wofford (7-4) has won five games in a row and might need at least a repeat of the type of performance it put up Sunday to keep up with Duke, which has won three consecutive games since the stunning loss to Stephen F. Austin last month.
The Blue Devils (9-1) are coming off a significant layoff as they haven’t played since winning their ACC opener Dec. 6 at Virginia Tech. This will be the Blue Devils’ only game during a three-week span.
“My team has been good but it’s been different guys,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Tre (Jones) has been the constant. Different guys have stepped up.”
Jones, a sophomore guard, has been a workhorse. He played 40 minutes in a victory against Michigan State, and he logged 36 vs. Virginia Tech.
Duke freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. has produced five games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He’s averaging a team-high 18.5 points per game.
It might be interesting to see if Duke guard Cassius Stanley is back in form. He missed the Michigan State game with a leg injury, then was back in the starting lineup against Virginia Tech but logged only seven minutes without scoring.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” Krzyzewski said. “He is going to be healthy.”
Wofford gave up 18 offensive rebounds against North Carolina but countered with a long-range barrage. The Terriers hit 14 of 40 3-point attempts. Leading scorer Storm Murphy (14.5 points per game) is 30 of 55 from beyond the arc for a team that ranks fourth nationally with 11.2 made 3-balls per game.
“A lot of times we handled some punches that North Carolina threw at us with some good tough counterpunches,” McAuley said. “We were not the biggest or the strongest, but we were really physical and I thought our team really connected well.”
Duke might have been afforded something of a Wofford preview in its last game. Virginia Tech is directed by first-year coach Mike Young, who left his long-time position at Wofford to join the ACC school.
For Duke, the Virginia Tech game wasn’t totally smooth. The Blue Devils trailed at halftime for the only time this season.
The Blue Devils went for a smaller lineup for portions of that game and, overall, that versatility has become an asset. During Duke’s three-game winning streak, the Blue Devils are averaging 28.9 points per game from reserves, a sizeable jump from earlier in the season.
“The depth that we have makes it easy to play with a group like that,” Jones said. “You don’t necessarily have to practice with them a lot to be on the same page. When we put a group out like that that’s trying to win and fight together, it’s so easy to play with one another.”
Since 1998, Southern Conference teams have defeated nine ranked opponents. Wofford owns two of the victories, both against North Carolina.
Duke is 6-0 all-time against Wofford, although a 2014 victory was the lone meeting since 1936.
–Field Level Media