AllenXFactorPhoto
Allen will have to get his shot back for Duke.

X Factor: How can Duke win its first conference road game?



After suffering its second conference road loss in as many tries against N.C. State Saturday, Duke will travel to Pittsburgh to try and down the Panthers Wednesday night. The Blue Zone takes a look at one player—or factor—from each team that could be the difference-maker. 

Duke: Guard Grayson Allen

Playing a conference game in a hostile road environment is a challenge for any team, especially for a team composed of four freshman starters like the Blue Devils. Duke has struggled through its first two conference road games and will need its senior captain Grayson Allen to show up and lead the team this time around. The preseason All-American scored just eight of the Blue Devils' 85 points in their 96-85 loss at N.C. State Saturday, and shot a mere 5-of-20 from the field including a dismal 1-of-9 from beyond the arc Dec. 9th in Duke’s 89-84 loss against Boston College. 

Allen has showed the ability to shoot the lights out on numerous occasions throughout his career, but he has been silenced often this season, surpassing the 16-point plateau on just three occasions since a career-high 37-point performance against then-No. 2 Michigan State. The Blue Devils will need him to get back to looking for his shot, especially early, in order to get him involved in the game. 

Pittsburgh: Oakland Zoo

The Panthers have struggled offensively since the start of conference play, averaging just 57 points per game. But the Blue Devils have allowed more than 80 points in each of their first three true road games, including 96 points in the loss to N.C. State Saturday.

The Oakland Zoo—full of raucous students—helps make the Petersen Events Center one of the toughest places to play in the nation and can add to the large amount of pressure on the Blue Devils Wednesday. Duke is in danger of falling to 1-3 in the conference, and the Blue Devils are still searching for their first conference road victory of the season. 

Duke has been unable to shoot from the perimeter on the road, converting on a mere 22.6 percent of their three point attempts, and have struggled defending on the perimeter at the other end. Although Pittsburgh is a heavy underdog, expect the Zoo to make a difference. Duke has already lost on the road to Boston College and N.C. State, which predicted to finish 14th and 12th respectively in the ACC Preseason Poll, so there is no reason to count a Pittsburgh upset out Wednesday.


Comments powered by Disqus

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