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X-Factor: Duke men's basketball aims to keep Wofford off the perimeter

Wendell Moore Jr. will look to replicate his performance against Georgetown last month, when the freshman scored a season-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting
Wendell Moore Jr. will look to replicate his performance against Georgetown last month, when the freshman scored a season-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting

After a win over Virginia Tech handed them their first ACC victory of the year, the Blue Devils return to their nonconference slate against Wofford. The Blue Zone examines a key player from each team who could make the difference Thursday night:

Duke: Forward Wendell Moore Jr.

Inconsistency has been the prevailing theme of Wendell Moore Jr.'s freshman campaign so far. The Charlotte native has shown flashes of potential, including a 17-point performance against Georgetown in late November, but every strong performance has thus far been matched by a lackluster showing. Moore has scored in double digits five times for Duke this season, but has also been held to two points or under in four contests. That disparity in production has made it difficult for the freshman to come into his own and find a solid fit into the Blue Devils' roster.

Against Wofford, Moore will look to build off of a promising performance at Virginia Tech. The five-star recruit showcased his efficiency by scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting against the Hokies. While Cassius Stanley continues to deal with the lingering effects of a hamstring injury, Moore can take advantage of increased minutes and prove that he can produce at a more consistent clip than he has so far. Two solid games in a row from Moore would go a long way in proving his ability to be yet another viable wing threat for Duke. 

Wofford: Guard Storm Murphy

The dynamic backcourt duo of Fletcher Magee and Storm Murphy helped Wofford take the college basketball world by storm last season. The splash brothers of the NCAA propelled the Terriers to score 82.3 points per game in 2018-19 and shoot over 40 percent from three. Magee’s departure after last season has allowed Murphy to take center stage on Wofford’s roster, and the junior guard has more than capitalized on the opportunity, shooting 54.5 percent from beyond the arc.

If the Terriers want to sweep their tour of Tobacco Road, Murphy will have to continue his efficient scoring. Duke’s stingy perimeter defense could help stifle the prolific shooter. If Murphy gets hot, however, his range and ability to hit contested shots could give the Blue Devils fits. Because of Duke’s lack of a consistent shooting threat to match Murphy, it’s imperative that the Blue Devils contain the sharpshooter and force Wofford to try to win without his production. Otherwise, Duke may struggle to avoid the fate that befell North Carolina earlier this week when it lost to the Terriers.  

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