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X-factor: The experience of Duke men's basketball's Matthew Hurt will let him shine against Coppin State

Sophomore Matthew Hurt has garnered quite a bit of preseason attention, and this matchup with Coppin State will be his first chance to display his improved skill set.
Sophomore Matthew Hurt has garnered quite a bit of preseason attention, and this matchup with Coppin State will be his first chance to display his improved skill set.

Each game, the Blue Zone brings you a player from each team who has the potential to tip the game in their team’s favor:

After having their first game of the season against Gardner-Webb postponed, Duke will be facing off against Coppin State University when the Eagles travel to Durham. Based in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Coppin State is expected to be a nice warm-up for the Blue Devils to start the 2020-21 season. But after last year’s loss to Stephen F. Austin, Duke can take no games for granted. Here are the players that have the potential to alter the outcome of this game for each team.  

Matthew Hurt, F, Duke 

In the first game of the season, experience is going to be key for the Blue Devils.  The starting lineup is expected to contain a couple first-year players, but someone that should be on everybody’s watch list is sophomore Matthew Hurt. Hurt came into last season with high expectations that many felt he didn’t fully live up to. However, he flashed his skill at times and let the people know why head coach Mike Krzyzewski put so much faith in him. Finishing last year averaging just under 10 points per game, Hurt should see huge growth this year. Expect his three-point shooting and size to be a game-changing force, creating space for the rest of the team to go to work. Hurt should be able to use these skills to set the tone early as the Blue Devils look to start off the season right in the search of their sixth NCAA title. 

Anthony Tarke, G, Coppin State

In the third school of his college career, Anthony Tarke is looking to get back on track. In his sophomore year, the guard out of Gaithersburg, Md., averaged 15.1 points per game at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and proceeded to transfer to UTEP.  Last year, however, his minutes dropped significantly, and so did his production.  Looking for a fresh start, he’s found a new home at Coppin State, where he should bring much-needed experience and leadership to a side facing the No. 9 ranked team in the nation. Tarke shot 37 percent from three-point range his freshman year, and if he’s able to find that form again, it could be a problem for Duke considering at times last year, Duke found themselves struggling to guard the three-point line. If that trend leaks into this season, Tarke and Coppin State could pose an unexpected threat for the Blue Devils.

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