Injured Duke basketball starters getting closer to returning following disaster

The two injured Duke basketball starters are getting closer to a return after the team's disaster with them sidelined.

Jan 20, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Injured Duke Blue Devils players (left to right) Mark
Jan 20, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Injured Duke Blue Devils players (left to right) Mark / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
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The Duke basketball team crumbled without Jeremy Roach and Mark Mitchell in the lineup on Saturday night against Pittsburgh and the the hope is that both players could return for the Blue Devils' next game on Tuesday (7:00 p.m. ET, ACC Network).

Jon Scheyer said Monday morning during the ACC Coaches Teleconference that the hope was for both players to practice prior to the team's departure for Louisville during the afternoon.

There was some optimism that both Mitchell and Roach could be available to play against the Panthers but weren't able to progress quick enough for any 5-on-5 drills, which ultimately was the reason neither played.

It was the second straight missed game for Mark Mitchell with a knee sprain and the first missed game of the year for Jeremy Roach, who was injured in the victory against Georgia Tech and tried to return after exiting for the Duke locker room but only lasted 57 seconds on the court before having to be removed.

Jaylen Blakes started for the first time this season because of the injuries and Tyrese Proctor, who was inserted back into the starting lineup after Mitchell could not play against the Yellow Jackets, kept his place in the opening rotation.

Jeremy Roach has been the most consistent player in the Duke rotation, averaging a career-high 14.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game on 49.7-percent shooting from the floor and 45.3-percent from 3-point range.

Mitchell, despite shooting struggles from the perimeter, is posting 12.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest while connecting on 49.6-percent of his shots.

On paper, No. 12 Duke (13-4, 4-2 ACC) should be able to take care of lowly Louisville (6-12, 1-6 ACC) without its two starters but many said the same about Pittsburgh.

Regardless, the Blue Devils cannot afford any more bad losses and need to get as healthy as quickly as possible with a brutal three game stretch beginning on Saturday, which will see Clemson (13-5, 3-4 ACC) come to Cameron Indoor Stadium before back-to-back road games against Virginia Tech (11-7, 3-4 ACC) and No. 3 North Carolina (15-3, 7-0 ACC).

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