Despite coming up just short against what's now the nation's No. 1 team, Duke insists it is improving every time it takes the floor.
It can't ask for any better results against Wake Forest.
The No. 11 Blue Devils return home Tuesday night looking for their 15th straight home victory and eighth consecutive win overall against the Demon Deacons.
Duke (17-5, 6-3 ACC) made a season-high 15 3-pointers on 36 attempts in Saturday's 91-89 overtime loss at then-No. 2 Syracuse, including a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation by Rasheed Sulaimon.
That was the Blue Devils' first loss in six games, and it came after Jabari Parker fouled out with 1:42 left in regulation. Duke is shooting 42.8 percent from 3-point range during this 5-1 stretch.
Despite the loss, the Blue Devils rose six spots in the AP poll after beating then-No. 18 Pittsburgh 80-65 on Jan. 27.
"We're getting better,'' guard Andre Dawkins said. "(Against Syracuse), I think we regressed a little bit in terms of our defense, but our offense did a lot of good things. We've just got to get back to playing the defense that we have been playing the last few games."
Duke allowed the Orange to shoot 57.4 percent and forced only eight turnovers after holding their previous five opponents to 58.4 points per game and forcing an average of 13.4 turnovers.
Parker, who on Monday was named ACC Rookie of the Week for the second consecutive week and the sixth time this season, has been especially effective on the boards lately despite struggling with his shot since conference play began. Parker is shooting just 35.0 percent and averaging 14.7 points against ACC opponents, but he's averaged 12.3 rebounds in his past four games for a Duke team that had been badly outrebounded in its first four losses.
He'll be getting his first taste of a series that's gone Duke's way for quite a while. The Blue Devils haven't lost at home to Wake Forest (14-8, 4-5) since Tim Duncan led the way for the Demon Deacons in 1997, winning by an average of 19.8 points, and they've averaged 85.6 points in winning the last seven in the series overall.
Duke won the most recent home meeting 80-62 on Jan. 5, 2013, despite 22 points and 11 rebounds from Wake's Travis McKie, who's playing well of late. The senior is averaging 19.0 points over his last four games after scoring 9.2 per game in his first 18.
McKie scored a career-high 26 points in the Demon Deacons' 79-70 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday.
"It is disappointing, but you can't put too much pressure on one loss. You just have to learn from it," McKie said. "We have a big game on Tuesday, so we can't worry too much about (the Georgia Tech) game since it is over."
McKie may be asked to take a larger role depending on the status of Codi Miller-McIntyre, who leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game but played only 17 minutes versus the Yellow Jackets after turning his ankle. Coach Jeff Bzdelik said the guard was day-to-day.
Miller-McIntyre missed 12 of 18 shots and totaled 14 points in Wake's two losses to Duke last season.
The Demon Deacons' minus-9.0 rebounding differential since conference play began is by far the worst in the ACC.