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X-Factor: Joey Baker's outside presence could guide the Blue Devils to a Chapel Hill upset

Joey Baker is in desperate need of a strong shooting performance. His lack of production has resulted in diminishing minutes.
Joey Baker is in desperate need of a strong shooting performance. His lack of production has resulted in diminishing minutes.

Following a disappointing loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta on Tuesday, the Blue Devils look to closeout a tumultuous season with a win in the Dean Dome. The Blue Zone gives you a player to watch from each team for Saturday’s Tobacco Road Rivalry Rematch in Chapel Hill.

Duke, F, Joey Baker

Going into his junior year, we expected a bit more development of Joey Baker's game. Instead, head coach Mike Krzyzewski has actually given Baker fewer minutes and the Fayetteville, N.C. native is shooting less efficiently than he did a year ago. In what’s been a disappointment of a year for the player and the program as a whole, Baker has a chance to make a statement on Saturday. Arguably Baker’s best game of the season came against the Tar Heels on Feb. 6, a contest in which he notched 12 points with only seven shots (all of which came from beyond the arc). Krzyzewski clearly saw a matchup advantage in the first half and gave Baker a greener light than usual. If there’s one thing the Blue Devils could use, it’s another lights-out shooting night from one of their veterans.

North Carolina, G, Kerwin Walton

After his first few shots in the first meeting between these two historic programs, it seemed like Kerwin Walton couldn’t miss, with the freshman starting 4-for-4 on threes against Duke last month. He’s only averaging 7.9 points on the season, but make no mistake— he can shoot as well as anyone on either team. That’s why Roy Williams has given him the starting nod over RJ Davis since December. Walton’s been key to UNC’s spacing and distance attack this year, and look for him to have another impactful performance in the final home game of his season.

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