Duke returns home after capturing the 2K Empire Classic championship in New York to face a Stephen F. Austin team that has gotten off to a 4-1 start. The Blue Devils will attempt to win a seventh contest before the Thanksgiving holiday and maintain their status as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Blue Zone breaks down three keys to the game Tuesday night:
Wendell Moore staying hot
After a quiet first few contests, Wendell Moore quietly played one of the best individual games in Duke’s win over Georgetown this past Friday. The freshman dropped 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting on the Hoyas and added three assists and six boards to his stat line as well. While it may have been Vernon Carey or Cassius Stanley who played the most overtly dominant games, Moore picked apart the defense and scored in crafty ways. He is a threat Duke will need to rely on if a shooter goes cold or Carey picks up one too many fouls.
While significant minutes from Moore are still in question with head coach Mike Krzyzewski shuffling players around in an effort to find a five that clicks, continued play like Friday's performance will cement his place in the starting lineup, as well as give the Stephen F. Austin defense fits come Tuesday.
Tre Jones vs. Kevon Harris
Kevon Harris, the workhorse guard for the Lumberjacks, has racked up an impressive 19.4 points per game despite not being the primary ball handler for his team. Standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing in at almost 220 pounds, Harris is an absolute nightmare for smaller, skinnier guards who try to match up against him. Granted, the competition has not been particularly skilled thus far, but nearly 20 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc is impressive nonetheless.
This is where Tre Jones comes in. Lauded as one of the premier—if not the singular best—perimeter defender in college hoops, the sophomore guard should expect to shoulder the lion’s share of this assignment. While he may not start as Harris' primary defender, any defensive switches are likely to result in Jones staring down Harris. Look for the matchup to play a key role in any potential upset bid by the visitors.
Big Game Hangovers
Duke simply must avoid one. This key relies on no singular matchup, shooting touch or coaching decision. The Blue Devils simply cannot let the excitement of winning a tournament in Madison Square Garden, the "World’s Most Famous Arena", cause them to falter two days before Thanksgiving.
Young teams are notoriously prone to games such as these, but so far, Duke has not been fazed by the differing skill levels of its opponents, handing down a 34-point loss to Colorado State just days after besting then-No. 3 Kansas 68-66.
All they need is to keep the same energy on Tuesday night, and the Blue Devils should be looking at a 7-0 start to the season.
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