Duke men's basketball cancels rest of nonconference slate

Duke announced Thursday it would not play any more nonconference basketball games this season "out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to allow the Blue Devils' student-athletes time over the holidays to spend with their families."

As a result, the Blue Devils will no longer play Gardner-Webb on Dec. 19 and won't reschedule previously postponed games against Elon and Charleston Southern. Duke will face Notre Dame on Dec. 16 and then won't play again until Pittsburgh on Dec. 29.

"This is the best decision we could make as a program, in making sure that we are doing the right thing for our players," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "This will also allow our team to have time over the holidays to safely enjoy with their families. These kids need to be with their families, at least for a little bit. So we will play the Notre Dame game on Dec. 16, and then allow our team four or five days at home before returning here to prepare for the remainder of our ACC schedule -- and hopefully get to play all of them. These kids go through so much, and we need to take care of them."

Duke has struggled this season, falling to 2-2 after a 15-point home loss to Illinois on Tuesday.

Following the loss to the Fighting Illini, Krzyzewski questioned the idea of playing college basketball during a pandemic.

"I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we're at," Krzyzewski said after the game.

"People are saying the next six weeks are going to be the worst," he added. "To me, it's already pretty bad. On the other side of it, there are these vaccines that are coming out. By the end of the month, 20 million vaccine shots will be given. By the end of January or in February, another 100 million. Should we not reassess that? See just what would be best?"

Alabama coach Nate Oats responded to those quotes Thursday, saying "We 100 percent should be playing basketball."

"Do you think if Coach K hadn't lost his two nonconference games at home that he would still be saying that?" Oats said at a news conference.