Not long ago, Duke and Louisville were sitting in good positions early in the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of their schedules.
Now one of these squads is about to possess a three-game losing streak.
Two teams in need of a turnaround meet Saturday afternoon when Duke goes to Louisville, Ky.
“The margin between winning and losing for this team is extremely narrow,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team will finish a stretch of three straight road games. “So all those little things (loom large).”
Duke (5-4, 3-2 ACC) and Louisville (9-3, 4-2) both dropped from the national rankings at the beginning of the week and each has lost once more game since then.
“I’d like to think that we have guys that are willing to do what it takes in order to win,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “And as their coach, I’m telling you that’s what we need to do in order to win. And we’ve got some guys who have to figure that out.”
The Blue Devils haven’t shown the ability to maintain a high level of play.
“Until we find some level of consistency, I think that’s what happens to teams,” Krzyzewski said. “There’s something about doing all those little things. … We have to have some level of consistency. I mean, who are those five (best) guys?”
Only forward Matthew Hurt has been in the starting lineup for all nine Duke games. He struggled in the first half Tuesday night at Pittsburgh.
“We need Matt Hurt to be there in both halves,” Krzyzewski said.
The Blue Devils hope freshman Jalen Johnson, who recorded a season-best 24 points at Pittsburgh, can offer a repeat performance in just his second game back following time off due to an injury.
“My production is doing whatever it takes to help us win,” Johnson said. “Clearly, we’ve just got to do more as a team.”
Unless there’s a schedule addition, this will be Louisville’s only game during an 11-day span.
Mack’s words regarding his team sound much like how Krzyzewski has described the Blue Devils.
“They need more understanding that our team is going to win by doing little things and having energy,” Mack said. “It’s not going to just out-talent people, it’s not going to walk out there. “
The Cardinals pin much of their offensive success on Carlik Jones, a graduate transfer from Radford. Jones is the lone ACC player in the top five in conference statistics in scoring (17.9 points per game) and assists (4.7).
In Duke’s most-recent trip to Louisville, the Blue Devils produced the second-largest comeback in program history by rallying from 23 points down in the last 9 1/2 minutes for a 71-69 victory two years ago. Then last year, the Cardinals picked up a road victory when both teams were rated in the top 15 nationally.
–Field Level Media