XFactor: Duke basketball vs Buffalo

After routing Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, No. 7 Duke welcomes Buffalo to Cameron Indoor Stadium looking to win its fifth straight game. The Blue Devils have appeared to hit their stride during the winning-streak and will look to use Saturday's game to continue improving on both sides of the ball. The Blue Zone takes a look at one player from each team who could be the difference in the game:

Duke: guard/forward Brandon Ingram

After struggling a bit to begin the season, Ingram had a breakout performance against Indiana that confirmed his potential to be a serious offensive threat for the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-9 freshman paved his way to a stellar 24-point performance against the Hoosiers, using his height in the low post while also displaying his long-range game by going 4-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Kinston, N.C. native has a height advantage on almost every player on the Buffalo roster, making Saturday’s matchup the perfect opportunity for Ingram to continue his hot streak. With the Bulls’ tallest defenders preoccupied with Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee, expect the swingman to be the beneficiary of a few defensive mismatches. Ingram’s recent outburst will also garner attention from the entire Bulls defense, making open looks for other Duke players more likely whenever he’s on the floor. Coming off of a hot 3-point shooting game, Ingram will once again look to stretch the floor and prevent the Buffalo defense from developing any kind of rhythm.

Buffalo: guard Lamonte Bearden

Bearden is the Bulls’ leading scorer through seven games—averaging 13.6 points per contest— but is one of the least efficient shooters on the team, shooting just 38 percent from the field. The rest of the team has become accustomed to operating without the sophomore guard shooting at his best, so a strong performance from Bearden would be a key addition to an offense that already has several players shooting close to 50 percent from the floor.

Despite a stretch of inefficient performances this season, Bearden has shined at times and shown that he can be a dangerous offensive presence. In a recent overtime victory against Canisius, the Milwaukee native scored 18 points on an impressive 7-of-12 shooting. In order to lead his team to victory against the Blue Devils, Bearden will need to help his teammates and have a similar standout performance 

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