RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Little has gone smoothly or as expected for No. 17 Duke this season.
The Blue Devils (22-7, 10-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) have faced injuries — even to their Hall of Fame coach — and a suspension for preseason Associated Press All-American Grayson Allen this season. It’s all contributed to some uneven play for the preseason top-ranked Blue Devils, whose finish to the regular season — two games, two ranked opponents — is one of the week’s biggest storylines for teams in the AP Top 25.
The current issues are an ankle injury to Allen, which sidelined him for Saturday’s loss at No. 25 Miami, as well as lingering foot pain for fifth-year senior big Amile Jefferson. Their status is unclear this week for Tuesday’s home finale against No. 15 Florida State followed by Saturday’s visit to fifth-ranked rival North Carolina.
“Our goal is to play them,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I hate to be so ambivalent about it. . I wish we had more certainty, but it’s been that kind of year.”
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It sure has. Freshmen Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Marques Bolden missed time with injuries early this season. Allen sat out a game for tripping opponents. Krzyzewski missed about a month following back surgery.
Duke had appeared to steady itself with a seven-game winning streak, but the Blue Devils have lost two straight entering Tuesday’s game and aren’t even assured to finish with a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament — and more importantly, the double-round bye that goes with it.
Beating the Seminoles and sweeping the Tar Heels, who have already clinched the No. 1 tournament seed, would be a big help.
STACKED ACC SCHEDULE: Duke’s games against FSU and UNC are only part of a full schedule of games featuring two ranked teams in the ACC.
No. 23 Virginia’s win against UNC on Monday was the first of five such games this week….