If Duke is to reach its potential in the 2019-2020 season, improving outside the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium is key.
Coming off a 79-58 road loss to No. 5 Texas A&M, the Blue Devils complete their cross-country road trip with a visit to the desert to take on UNLV in Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center. The Lady Rebels are looking to bounce back after a season-opening home loss to CSU Fullerton.
What’s at stake?
With the Blue Devils (1-1) missing out on a major resume-boosting win against the Aggies, securing a victory over 2,000 miles from Durham will prove that this team can rebound after a tough defeat. A win over the Lady Rebels (0-1) can set the Blue Devils up for a long winning streak, as following the matchup they do not have another road test until December.
Despite the recent struggles of the UNLV program, the Blue Devils cannot underestimate any team with a chance to bounce back on its home floor. If Duke can control the tempo and give guards Haley Gorecki and Miela Goodchild opportunities in the half-court and on fast breaks, then the Blue Devils have a great opportunity to leave Las Vegas pleased. If Duke expects to have momentum going into ACC play, it starts here.
Where does UNLV get its points from?
In their opening loss, the Lady Rebels' top scorers were Justice Ethridge and Rodjanae Wade, who racked up 16 and 13 points, respectively. However, UNLV lost four of its top six scorers from a season ago, leaving head coach Kathy Olivier without much experience in that category. Wade shot 43.6 percent from the field last season, though she does not present any threat from 3-point range, going 0-for-3 from deep on the year. Ethridge, meanwhile, actually had a better field goal percentage from behind the 3-point line than she did from the field overall. LaTecia Smith is likely the Lady Rebels most effective perimeter shooter, as the now-redshirt senior shot 42.1 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Who will win inside?
On the interior, the Lady Rebels have a significant amount of height and depth, with nine players 6-foot-1 or taller. In order for Duke to control the tempo and gain an advantage in terms of total number of offensive possessions, it must effectively deal with the size that UNLV brings in the rebounding department. Blue Devil junior Jade Williams will be counted on in the paint on both ends of the floor. Duke’s constant emphasis on blocking out for defensive boards will once again be put to the test, as Texas A&M outrebounded the Blue Devils 47-26.
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Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.