After taking down Virginia Tech in Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke returns to the road for a matchup against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., Tuesday night. The Blue Zone breaks down one player from each team that could make the difference:
Duke: Forward Matthew Hurt
When comparing the box scores from last Wednesday’s blowout loss at N.C. State with Saturday’s blowout win against Virginia Tech, there’s one glaring difference: Matthew Hurt showed up against the Hokies, and was almost nonexistent against the Wolfpack. Against N.C. State, the freshman played only nine minutes, scoring a mere three points on only two attempted field goals. In sharp contrast, Hurt played 24 minutes Saturday and scored 16 points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field and 6-for-10 shooting from the free throw line.
The Minnesota native has been extremely inconsistent as of late. Over his last six games, he’s failed to score more than three points the same number of times he’s scored in double-digits. Duke’s last meeting against Wake Forest, a resounding 90-59 victory for the Blue Devils, was another innocuous showing from Hurt: he played 17 minutes, but was only able to score five points and grab three rebounds. A big showing from Hurt Tuesday night will be imperative for the Blue Devils, not just for the sake of beating the Demon Deacons, but for Hurt to build some momentum as March looms ever closer.
Wake Forest: Guard Brandon Childress
What Tre Jones is to Duke, Brandon Childress is to Wake Forest. The senior guard is the Demon Deacons’ floor general and unambiguous team leader. He also happens to be a box score stuffer. Childress leads his team in points and assists with 15.0 and 4.5 per game, respectively. He’s also an impressive rebounder for his stature, grabbing over three boards a game despite his 6-foot-0 frame. If Tuesday’s game comes down to the wire, expect Childress to be Wake Forest’s biggest weapon, as his 80.7 percent mark from the charity stripe could be lethal.
The defensive powerhouse that is Jones and Jordan Goldwire completely shut down Childress in Duke’s blowout win in January. The Winston-Salem native didn’t score a point despite playing 27 minutes, and his four assists were accompanied by four turnovers. That lack of production from its leader was a huge factor as to why Wake Forest was blown out when it came to Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, don’t expect that trend to repeat itself, as Childress will be motivated to get his revenge on the Blue Devils when they come to his hometown Tuesday night.