Heading into a challenging weekend of ACC basketball, Duke received a glimmer of good news about a key player.
Junior guard Jeremy Roach’s return to practice Friday means he’s close to returning after missing the Blue Devils’ last three games with a toe injury.
“He’s going to be a game-time decision,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said of Saturday’s noon game with No. 17 Miami, the first of two ACC games in three days for the Blue Devils. “He’s been able to progress, but really hasn’t done a whole lot. We’ll see how he is. We want him to be comfortable whenever that time is to come back. But there’s a chance for tomorrow.”
The lone starter from last season’s Final Four team and Duke’s team captain, the 6-2 Roach hasn’t played since Jan. 4 when NC State beat Duke, 84-60, at PNC Arena. Scheyer and the medical staff decided to shut down Roach to rest the ailing big toe on his right foot, which was first injured during a 75-56 loss to Purdue on Nov. 27.
Roach aggravated the injury during Duke’s 86-67 win over Florida State on Dec. 31.
While announcing the hopeful health update for Roach on Friday, Scheyer revealed a new injury for another Duke guard. Sophomore Jaylen Blakes suffered a broken nose, from an inadvertent hit to the face during practice Wednesday.
Scheyer said Blakes will be available to play against Miami but will be wearing a protective mask on his face.
“Jaylen will be ready to go,” Scheyer said. “Our medical team did a great job. About an hour after, they were able to reduce the fracture. He handled it like an absolute champ and is tough as nails. So he’s able to play. He’ll just be wearing a mask for the time being.”
Roach made just 2 of 18 shots from the field over his last two games prior to hitting the sidelines. For Duke’s last three games, he’s been in street clothes with a protective boot on his right foot.
He’s averaged 11.9 points in 14 games played for Duke this season while hitting 35.9% of his shots from the field. He’s made 20 of 62 3-pointers (32.3%).
Even if Roach is cleared to return against Miami, his workload will initially be lighter than the 32.3 minutes per game he’s averaged this season, Scheyer said.
“it’s not going to be where he’s 100%,” Scheyer said. “You’re just not able to get to 100% at this point of the year. For him, it’s about discomfort. It’s really swelling and his pain tolerance. I mean it’s gotten a lot better now. We have to make the decision together with our medical team and with Jeremy on when that right time where he’s able to play a game.”
After Saturday’s game with Miami (15-3, 6-2) and its talented backcourt of Isaiah Wong and Nigel Pack, Duke heads to Virginia Tech (11-7, 1-6) for 7 p.m. game on Monday.
Tipoff time + TV channel for Saturday’s game
The game will start at noon Saturday and air on ESPN, which is available on major cable and satellite services such as Spectrum, Dish Network and DirecTV.
How to stream Duke vs. Miami game online
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Game day details: Duke vs. Miami
Teams: Duke Blue Devils vs Miami Hurricanes
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham
Date: Saturday, Jan. 21
Odds: Duke opened as a 4.5-point favorite on Friday with an over-under total of 148 points.
Series history: Duke and Miami will meet for the 33rd time with the Blue Devils leading the all-time series 23-9. Duke has won 11 of 14 games played at Cameron Indoor. The Hurricanes won, 76-74, in Durham last January before Duke responded with an 80-76 win in the ACC tournament semifinals at Brooklyn last March.