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Coughing It Up - High Turnover Games By The Blue Devils

Coach K and Jon Scheyer may still wake up thinking about some of these.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 07 Duke at Boston College
CHESTNUT HILL, MA - JANUARY 07: Boston College Eagles guard Makai Ashton-Langford (11) reaches in for the steal against Duke Blue Devils forward Mark Mitchell (25) during the college basketball game between Duke Blue Devils and Boston College Eagles on January 7, 2023, at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Turnovers come in all shapes and sizes. Not necessarily all colors, although they can make a coach see red or feel blue.

There are forced and unforced turnovers, live-ball and dead-ball turnovers. Stupid turnovers, careless turnovers, lazy turnovers. There are turnovers that are heedless or overly ambitious. Turnovers off bad passes, lost dribbles. Charges on ill-advised drives. Turnovers that are the product of going too fast or decidedly too slowly, turnovers that demonstrate the limits of an individual player’s skills.

For years, whether rife with newcomers or deep in experienced talent and leadership, Duke has largely avoided performances marked by wholesale turnovers.

Until earlier this month, when the Blue Devils ventured to Raleigh and, taking on the ACC leaders in steals (9.0 at the time), turned the ball over 21 times.

Seven different Dukies each were charged with at least two ballhandling miscues. Freshmen Dariq Whitehead and Tyrese Proctor had four turnovers each against a combined two assists.

The Wolfpack had twice as many steals (10) as Duke, dominated the Devils 30 to 2 on points off turnovers, and blasted Jon Scheyer’s squad on fastbreak points, 25-7, all stats that bespoke a plethora of live-ball errors.

Said Scheyer after his team lost by two dozen points: “It was their defense that got us out of sync. Having not been in this environment before, when it went that way we didn’t stick together the way that you have to. The times when we executed, made passes, and had some poise we actually got to the paint and had some good shots. But there are too many empty possessions. We knew coming in that they were great at creating turnovers, we had 21. That’s not going to get it done against anybody, especially not these guys.”

Not caring to aggravate the wound, we went back only as far as 2010, Scheyer’s senior season as a Duke guard, to gauge where the fuel for the PNC Arena debacle stood compared to recent Blue Devil seasons. Other than 22 turnovers in a 2020 overtime shocker at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Stephen A. Austin, and a matching 22 against Coppin State in Covid-afflicted 2021, the Jan 4 fumblefest topped all Duke squads over the past 14 seasons.

The school record for turnovers committed by Duke is 36, set in a December 1974 home win against East Carolina.

Most Turnovers In Game By Duke Squad, By Season Since 2010
Season Turnovers Opponent Venue Result
2023 21 NC State Away 60-84 L
2022 17 Miami Away 74-76 L
2021 22 Coppin State Home 81-71 W (opener)
2020 22* Stephen F. Austin Home 83-85 L (OT)
2019 20 North Carolina Home 72-88 L
2018 19 Miami Home 87-57 W
South Dakota Home 96-80 W
2017 18 South Carolina NCAA 81-88 L
Louisville Away 69-78 L
2016 18 Louisville Away 64-71 L
2015 19 Connecticut Neutral 66-56 W
2014 19 Alabama MSG 74-64 W
2013 18 Fla. Gulf Coast Neutral 88-67 W
2012 19 Belmont Home 77-76 W (opener)
2011 20 Clemson Home 70-59 W
2010 15 Georgetown Away 77-89 L
Miami Home 81-74 W
*Also committed 21 turnovers in wins over Georgetown and Florida State.