After a week off from games, Duke prepares to take on Pittsburgh for its second consecutive Tuesday night matchup. The Blue Zone breaks down three keys if the Blue Devils hope to take down the Panthers:
Build on what works
The Blue Devils displayed an excellent showing in their last game against Miami. There were two points in particular that led to the blowout win—the usage of Matthew Hurt and the team's ball movement. Hurt’s season has been up and down as he’s continued to figure out his identity on the team, but the freshman forward seems to have found his groove recently. Feeding the hot hand can only help Duke against Pittsburgh.
Additionally, the ball movement by the entire squad was phenomenal last game. Everyone looked in sync and easily passed up shots for better looks off the extra pass. It was in no way flawless, but team play like this is extremely threatening to any opponent, and more game-practice will undoubtably make them better.
Don’t let Trey McGowens shoot in volume
Trey McGowens is one of Pittsburgh’s best players, spreading the floor with lethal scoring ability. He almost won his team the game against Louisville in the Panthers' narrow overtime loss Jan. 14, and Duke needs to prevent that side of him from coming out Tuesday night. He’s most dangerous when he is able to get a lot of shots off and when the offense is designed around him. The Blue Devils will need to crowd his space and fight off screens to prevent him from getting the open looks Pittsburgh will be trying to find for him. Forcing the sophomore guard to give up the ball will be key to the success of Duke.
Attack the basket
Pittsburgh has a fouling problem. Of recent, foul trouble has cost the team at least one player in three of its last four games. The Panthers also have a lack of depth in the frontcourt, and if Duke can force one of Pittsburgh's main big men out of the game, it will open up the paint. The Blue Devils need to attack that area constantly throughout the first half in order to put themselves in that position. They do it regularly in many games, but this outing may have to be one where they rely less on threes and more on Vernon Carey Jr. and Hurt’s post abilities.