Trevon Duval and Duke will have to defend the perimeter against Pittsburgh.

Key three: How can Duke dominate Pittsburgh once again?

After three straight ACC wins, Duke will look to continue its winning ways against Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Zone gives three keys to the game for the Blue Devils to come out victorious: 

Dominate the boards 

Duke has been one of the most dominant teams in college basketball when it comes to rebounding. The Blue Devils are second in the nation in rebounds per game and first in offensive rebounding percentage, recovering almost 40 percent of their misses. Those offensive rebounds are vital in creating easy baskets, especially for a team that can be shaky from the perimeter at times. 

In fact, this Duke team has lost the rebound battle only twice all season—in their two losses against NC State and Boston College. The Blue Devils' job will only be made easier with the absence of Pittsburgh forward Ryan Luther. The 6-foot-10 forward was leading his team with 10.1 rebounds per game before going down with a foot injury that has left the Panthers thin up front. Duke will need to exploit this advantage if it wants to blow out the Panthers like it did earlier in the month. 

Defend the 3-point line

This Pitt team has been reliant on the three ball for over 35 percent of their points this season with two of its starters—Marcus Carr and Parker Stewart—in the ACC’s top 25 in 3-point percentage. However, in its last matchup against Pittsburgh, Duke managed to hold the Panthers to a woeful 18.2 percent from the 3-point line on 22 attempts.

Carr and Parker combined to go 1-of-8 from deep, and the rest of the team couldn’t pick up the slack. For the Blue Devils, it was an uncharacteristically good performance, as they usually defend the three poorly and depend on their offense to bail them out. Closing out hard on Pittsburgh shooters and forcing them into contested shots is absolutely vital for Duke going forward. 

Win the turnover battle

In Duke’s victory over Miami, the Blue Devils almost shot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over 19 times. Duke has generally been decent in protecting the ball–its 11.9 turnovers per game ranks 55th in the nation—but it has had poor stretches at times. One of the reasons why Duke dominated Pittsburgh so thoroughly in their last meeting was because Duke forced the Panters into committing 15 turnovers while only committing six of their own, while forcing 11 steals. 

Duke is at its best when it can get out in the open court and take advantage of its superior athleticism to generate open shots. Pittsburgh is one of the worst in the country in terms of taking care of the ball, and Duke needs to capitalize on that weakness in order to get out in transition as often as possible.

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