After falling on the road to Virginia Tech Monday, Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night to take on North Carolina for its final game of the regular season. The Blue Zone gives a player for both teams that could be the difference in the game:
Duke: Guard Grayson Allen
If there are any lessons to be drawn from the last matchup between Duke and North Carolina Feb. 8, it is that there are going to be a lot of 3-point attempts Saturday. The Blue Devils and Tar Heels combined for 58 attempts from beyond the arc on Feb. 8, with North Carolina connecting on 11-of-33 tries. That means two things for Duke.
First, its guards must be alert and aggressive on the perimeter. Second, its guards need to connect from deep on the offensive end.
This is Grayson Allen’s last regular season game in a Duke uniform. It’s his last game in Cameron Indoor Stadium and his last time grappling with Joel Berry II and the Tar Heels. And while this season has been filled with inconsistency, the senior’s performance as of late has been encouraging for the Blue Devils. In 17 conferences games, Allen has put up over 20 points just five times. Four of those five times, however, have come in the last six games.
Yes, as we have seen recently, he scores more points when freshman Marvin Bagley III is not on the floor. But the Blue Devils will be in a much better position if Allen can improve upon his nine-point, seven assist performance on Feb. 8.
North Carolina: Guard Joel Berry II
Berry II is the Tar Heel analogue to Allen. It is his last time in a North Carolina uniform and his last chance to beat Duke—which he seems to really enjoy. While the senior did register 21 points against the Blue Devils in their last meeting, that total was inflated by success at the free throw line. Berry II went just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, uncharacteristically poor for someone whose career average is just under 40 percent.
After a disastrous end to his senior night in a 91-88 buzzer-beater loss to Miami, Berry II will be looking to close an up-and-down season on a high note. With a Clemson loss at Syracuse and a Tar Heel win in Durham, the Blue Devils and North Carolina would be tied for second atop the conference.
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