Duke started off the season in glorious fashion, taking down No. 3 Kansas and routing Colorado State 89-55 Friday night. The Blue Devils will look to continue their dominant campaign Tuesday when they welcome Central Arkansas to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Here are three keys for Duke to bring home another win:
Keep up the defensive intensity
So far this season, shooting has been the least reliable weapon in Duke's arsenal. The Blue Devils shot just 35.9 percent from the field against the Jayhawks and then 53.6 percent against Colorado State. In the case of an off shooting night, Duke will have an ace in the hole: its defense.
The Blue Devils have established themselves as fierce defenders, both inside and outside the paint. Against the Rams, they recorded 12 steals, six blocks and 18 forced turnovers. Consistency has plagued Duke's shooting, but has not affected the team's most important facet of the game. Assuming the Blue Devils can keep up the intensity, they should have no problem with Central Arkansas on the defensive end.
Play through Tre Jones
At this point in the season, we have started to get a better idea of what Duke’s best player, Tre Jones, is capable of. He’s proven himself as an elite on-ball defender and a dependable facilitator, averaging 7.5 assists per contest. Of course, the Minnesota native hasn't yet turned into a threat from outside, but has shown an ability to score in other areas on the floor.
Jones will be a key factor in Duke’s success this season due to his value as a leader and playmaker. The former five-star recruit can consistently penetrate defenses for inside looks or dish the ball out to his teammates. Jones’ ability to adapt his game on the fly will be invaluable in the matchup with Central Arkansas and for the rest of the season to come.
Rely on inside scoring
If it hasn’t been made painfully clear already, Duke is not a good outside shooting team. It is no longer an assumption. It is just a fact. Maybe it’s the new 3-point line distance or maybe it's lingering rust. However, all that matters is that the Blue Devils cannot rely on 3-point shooting to win games.
In order to compensate for the weakness, Duke will need to aggressively pursue points down low. The Blue Devils excelled in that department Friday, outscoring Colorado State 56-22 in the paint. With players like Vernon Carey Jr. and Javin DeLaurier, Duke has all the weapons it needs to dominate the Bears in the lane and on the scoreboard.
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