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Harry Giles started against Miami a month ago and could play a key role in trying to keep forward ...

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Miami



After a loss at the buzzer to Syracuse Wednesday, Duke will look to get back on track with a win at Miami Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Watsco Center. The last time these two teams met Jan. 21, Duke overcame a daunting 11-point deficit at the half to win by 12, led by a clutch performance by Matt Jones. However, Miami enters the matchup hot, riding a three-game winning streak and coming off a thrilling overtime victory at No. 18 Virginia Monday. Here are three keys to the game for the Blue Devils to get back to their winning ways:

Grayson Allen Finds His Form

Following a gutty performance against North Carolina, scoring 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead Duke to victory, Grayson Allen has gone cold of late. The junior guard is averaging only 8.0 points per contest during the last four games, shooting a dismal a 22.5 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from behind the arc during that span. 

Although Luke Kennard and Jayson Tatum have done a tremendous job shouldering the load, the Blue Devils are at their best when all three primary scorers are firing on all cylinders. If Allen can return to hitting shots, Duke will be very difficult to defend and there will be a plethora of exploitable mismatches for all three players. Allen needs to get into a groove before March, or else Duke may be looking at an early exit in the Big Dance.

Win the Battle of the Boards

Duke has been up and down lately with its rebounding. During their last eight games, the Blue Devils held the advantage in four of them, and if their shooting continues to be inconsistent, rebounding and second-chance points will be the key to staying in the game. Despite shooting only 39.1 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from downtown, Duke led for most of the game against Syracuse thanks to superb offensive rebounding, pulling down 16 offensive boards and scoring 17 second-chance points.

Miami is a very strong rebounding team, averaging 11.6 offensive boards and 25.4 defensive rebounds a game. Senior forward Kamari Murphy leads the team with almost eight rebounds per game and pulled down seven offensive boards in the Hurricanes' first matchup with the Blue Devils to help them win the rebound battle by two. Duke forwards Amile Jefferson and Harry Giles must be physical down low to contend with Miami's big men, especially if the Blue Devils are shooting poorly.

Better Switching on Screens to Avoid Foul Trouble

In the first half against Miami, Duke struggled to defend the pick-and-roll and allowed Miami to jump out to a double-digit lead. Forwards were slow returning to their men, which resulted in easy buckets down low for the Hurricanes. But after halftime, with Marques Bolden’s impressive footwork to hedge screens and Frank Jackson and Jones’ defensive intensity, the Blue Devils were able to force turnovers, which sparked a 20-0 run. 

Switching on screens was also a problem against Wake Forest, enabling forward John Collins to drop 31 points on mismatched guards in the post. Mismatches also lead to foul trouble among Duke's guards, which was critical in the final stretch against Syracuse with Allen, Kennard and Jackson all limited with four fouls. With speedy junior Ja’Quan Newton returning from suspension for Miami, Duke will need to shore up its defense on screens to prevent easy baskets and avoid foul trouble.


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