tatum_sanjeev

Jayson Tatum has scored at least 10 points in all four games he has played, but his classmates' returns ...

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Elon



Duke wraps up its nonconference slate Wednesday evening at 6 against Elon at the Greensboro Coliseum, looking to reach a double-digit winning streak for the first time in two years. The contest will be the Blue Devils' last chance to integrate their recovering freshmen into the lineup before a 10-day break for Christmas and the start of conference play at Virginia Tech on New Year's Eve.

Improvement from the freshmen

Monday’s game against Tennessee State saw the long-awaited debut of top-ranked recruit Harry Giles, and it was far from spectacular. The 6-foot-10 forward missed his only shot in four minutes of action and did not look comfortable off the ball in Duke's offense. Fellow five-star big man Marques Bolden didn’t fare much better in his fourth game of the season, failing to score any points or grab any rebounds in six minutes on the court. If Duke’s top prospects can shake off a subpar performance and play at the level expected of them, the Blue Devils should have the offensive firepower in the frontcourt to steamroll Elon.

Defend the perimeter

The Phoenix can be a dangerous offensive power for an unprepared defense in the backcourt. Six players have knocked down at least 11 triples this season and five players are averaging more than 10.5 points per contest, giving Elon a balanced squad that can do serious damage if it can generate some open looks. Players like Jayson Tatum and Matt Jones will need to continue to pressure the ball on the wings to prevent easy scoring opportunities, and Duke has held opponents to just a 27.5 percent clip from the 3-point line this year, the ninth-lowest mark in the nation.

Spread the wealth on offense

Dec. 10 against UNLV, we saw how a well-coordinated Duke offense can move the ball and tear apart an opponent's defense with a plethora of dangerous scoring threat. Then, against Tennessee State, we saw how poor spacing and a sluggish start can leave the No. 5 team in the nation trailing in the second half in need of a source of energy. The Blue Devils now have all the pieces they need to be one of the best teams in the country—it is just a question of putting them together in a cohesive unit. If that does not happen, they will have to hope graduate student Amile Jefferson and sophomore Luke Kennard can pull through with more game-changing high-scoring performances.


Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Chronicle.