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Key three: Duke needs to learn to win on the road

Trent and Duke will need to improve on both sides of the ball from beyond the arc.
Trent and Duke will need to improve on both sides of the ball from beyond the arc.

Following a disappointing loss to their archrival, North Carolina, the Blue Devils will look to stop the bleeding at Georgia Tech Sunday at 6 p.m. The Blue Zone gives three keys for a Duke victory: 

Learn how to win on the road

This is a young team—everyone knows that. Four freshmen start, which comes with its growing pains and its frustrations. Patience has been preached. 

But, as it stands, there are seven regular season games and less than one month left until the ACC tournament. And right now, Duke is not a good team on the road. Four of the team’s five losses have come away from Cameron Indoor Stadium—it’d be difficult to say that’s purely a coincidence. Whether it's pressure, inexperience, or even a lack of time to gel as a team, the excuse no longer matters. 

The Blue Devils have one month and three more games on the road to learn how to handle playing away from Cameron Indoor. Until that lesson is learned, March might be a very, very long month—and not because they'll be playing games.  

Force takeaways

Another crucial takeaway from last Thursday’s defeat that deserves more attention is the turnover category. Duke is generally a relatively disciplined team with the ball, but its inability to make North Carolina uncomfortable with the ball vastly overshadowed any silver lining that came with Duke’s discipline. 

If a team coughs the ball up two times, they are going to win the basketball game. By spreading the floor and taking so many shots from the perimeter, the Tar Heels hampered Duke’s ability to swing momentum in their favor by generating turnovers. It also enabled North Carolina to take a ton of time off the clock in the second half and take 15 more shots than the Blue Devils. 

Georgia Tech isn't outstanding at controlling the ball, which provides an opportunity for Duke to gain more confidence on defense at getting takeaways, something it will need to do now and down the road. 

Dominate from deep—on both sides of the ball:

A lot of attention was spent on dissecting Duke’s struggles on the glass after its 82-78 defeat to North Carolina on Thursday. From the outset of the contest, however, it was overwhelmingly apparent that the Tar Heels had a particularly simple offensive strategy—shoot 3-pointers, and shoot a lot of them. 

That tactic played out well for North Carolina, which sank 11 triples—a program record against the Blue Devils. Duke, meanwhile, went 9-for-25 from beyond the arc, a mediocre mark against one of the worst 3-point defenses in the country. 

Senior Grayson Allen had himself another quiet outing, finishing with nine points in 40 minutes. Both he and Gary Trent Jr.—the two went 4-for-13 from long distance Thursday—need to hone it in against Georgia Tech, the third-worst team at defending three pointers in the conference. 

The Yellow Jackets don't just struggle at defending the turf beyond the arc—they sit last in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage. Duke needs to dominate the offensive and defensive 3-point battle in order to shake its recent stretch of poor play.


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