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Key three: Duke men's basketball needs to get Wendell Moore going against Virginia Tech

After a 25-point game against Boston College, Wendell Moore's rocky start continued against Wake Forest.
After a 25-point game against Boston College, Wendell Moore's rocky start continued against Wake Forest.

Control the perimeter

A key component of Virginia Tech’s early-season success has been the evolution of redshirt junior forward Keve Aluma, the 6-foot-9 Wofford transfer who head coach Mike Young has built the offense around. Aluma serves as the cornerstone of what is a traditional inside-out offense —  the Hokies rely on frontcourt players such as Aluma and fellow transfer forward Justyn Mutts to control the paint and primarily pass out of the low post, finding any of their many shooters to finish the job.

To slow down an ever-improving Hokies attack, Duke must prevent these perimeter players from getting open looks. The Blue Devils were burned from beyond the arc by Boston College last week, and Virginia Tech’s duo of electrifying sixth man Jalen Cone and knockdown shooter Hunter Cattoor could replicate the Eagles’ performance if granted the opportunity. Controlling the perimeter would force the burden onto the talented — yet relatively unproven — Aluma-led frontcourt, making this aspect of the game a clear priority for the Blue Devils.

Get Moore Going

In Duke’s nail-biter win over Boston College, sophomore forward and preseason All-ACC selection Wendell Moore was the story of the night, breaking out of a prolonged shooting slump in a big way by posting 25 points and sealing the game with a clutch baseline jumper. Moore’s performance not only propelled the Blue Devils to a much-needed win, but helped restore faith in the talented, yet struggling veteran.

Moore took a step back, however, against Wake Forest; he scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting and struggled to take care of the ball with four turnovers. The impact he made against the Eagles was sorely missed, and was one reason why the Blue Devils were only able to pull away late in the game against a far inferior opponent in the Demon Deacons. Instead of wondering which Moore will show up for Tuesday night’s contest, Duke should look to make life easy for their wayward star in any way possible — it could bring out the best in him, and it could make all the difference.

First half emphasis

Since returning from a seemingly endless holiday break, the Blue Devils have had to earn a pair of wins over two perennial  ACC bottom-feeders in Boston College and Wake Forest. For the most part, these back-and-forth wins came about because of sleepy starts — Duke never gained separation in the first half against Wake Forest, and trailed the Eagles by as many as 16 early on.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s response to this should be simple: implore the starting five to hit the floor ready to dominate the first half from tipoff, as they most surely can. That’s easier said than done, of course, but there is no doubt that this would go a long way toward ensuring a more comfortable Duke victory against a formidable opponent.

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