After a hard-fought victory against Virginia on Saturday, Duke looks to continue its win streak against Louisville on Tuesday, with tipoff set for 9 P.M. at the KFC Yum! Center. The Blue Zone examines three keys for the Blue Devils to secure the victory:
Attack the Paint
Duke must set the tone early by attacking Louisville hard in the paint, an area that they’ve owned throughout its first 23 games. The Cardinals have only one key player in the rotation over 215 pounds, and the Blue Devils must respond by using their size as an advantage and forcing the ball inside.
As the second-best rebounding team in the nation, the Blue Devils put up an impressive 43.0 rebounds per game whereas the Cardinals rank just 78th. In order to control the tempo, Duke must attack the glass with fervor and create a large rebound margin, another statistic that they’ve excelled at this season.
As their 7.5 blocks per game suggest, the Blue Devils have no problem in the interior on both offense and defense. If Duke is to continue their dominance in the ACC, they must continue scoring points in the paint at a high rate. Look for the Blue Devils to get their bigs involved early and hold nothing back when taking it to the hole.
Lock down the perimeter
Having shot 41.7 percent from three in their last four games, the Cardinals are a legitimate threat from distance. Louisville’s top four scorers all shoot better than 38 percent from beyond the arc, an impressive feat that has given them one of the top offenses in the ACC.
Fortunately, Duke knows a thing or two about guarding the perimeter, as the Blue Devils rank ninth in opponent 3-point field goal percentage at 28.8 percent. Duke’s freshman quartet collectively averages 7.3 steals per game and are capable of throwing off, or dominantly rejecting, any attempts from distance. The same effort must be replicated if the Blue Devils hope to return to North Carolina with only two losses.
Keep up the fire
Duke was ridiculous from the field Saturday night against the Cavaliers, shooting 57.8 percent from the field and a whopping 61.9 percent from three. Freshmen Barrett and Reddish led the charge, shooting 6-for-10 and 5-for-8, respectively.
Although these percentages are too great to be kept up for an extended period of time, the Blue Devils’ stellar offensive execution was essential in beating the Cavaliers. If the Blue Devils continue to make it rain in the KFC Yum! Center, look for Duke to coast to its 22nd victory and remain undefeated in opposing stadiums.
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