After taking care of its first two nonconference opponents, Duke will host Georgia State for the second game of the 2K Empire Classic Friday evening. The Blue Zone gives you a key player to watch from each team:
Duke: Forward Matthew Hurt
After two mediocre performances as Duke’s starting power forward, Matthew Hurt finally shook off the rust Tuesday night against Central Arkansas, tallying 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. The 6-foot-9 freshman showcased his highly-advertised shooting stroke by draining all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. In addition to the much-needed output from the perimeter, Hurt demonstrated improving chemistry with fellow freshman Vernon Carey Jr. as he dished out two incisive assists to the fellow big man for easy conversions in the paint.
Against a Georgia State team that features only one player taller than 6-foot-5 in the starting lineup, the Blue Devils can count on Hurt to exploit the mismatch by utilizing his size and range against smaller defenders. Like the previous two games, Hurt should be able to find open opportunities on the outside and continue the hot shooting streak he had last game. The Rochester, Minn., native might also get a good chance to improve his career-high rebounding performance—currently sitting at five—against a smaller team on Friday.
Georgia State: Guard Justin Roberts
A redshirt sophomore transfer from DePaul, former four-star recruit Justin Roberts returns to the court after missing the entire 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Despite a slow start in the season debut against Brewton-Parker where he only tallied four points in 26 minutes, Roberts turned in his best college performance against College of Charleston last Saturday with a career-high 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Roberts is also an intimidating defender for ball-handlers, compiling a total of seven steals in the first two games of the season.
Against Duke’s elite defense, it will be interesting to see if the Panther guard can create some problems for the dynamic backcourt duo of Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire. Duke forces its opponents to commit an average of 22.3 turnovers per contest and, as one of Georgia State's primary ball-handlers, Roberts will no doubt be under heavy pressure. However, in the Blue Devils' first exhibition game of the season, Northwest Missouri State's Trevor Hudgins proved that it was possible for guards to create considerable damage on this Duke squad, stunning the Cameron crowd with seven 3-pointers and an impressive 27-point outing. Roberts—an athletic, undersized 5-foot-11 guard who can also catch flames on the perimeter—can provide yet another test for the Blue Devil guards.