Before the Blue Devils welcome another foe in Clemson to Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday, let's take a look at a player from both teams who can be the difference-maker:
Duke: Wendell Moore Jr.
The Concord, N.C., native had a strong afternoon against Syracuse on Saturday, shooting 50% from the field, knocking down three triples, dishing out eight assists and contributing 15 points in his team’s 79-59 home victory. His one-handed rebound slam off an errant Joey Baker shot in the second half didn’t just send the Cameron Crazies into a frenzy, but highlighted in a larger sense the most notable change in his game this year: his output.
Moore recorded just the sixth triple-double in Duke history against Army and dominated the floor with 20 points against Gonzaga in November, averaging 15.2 points and 2.9 assists per game in addition to providing much-needed program experience and vocal leadership for head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s young roster. Compared to last year, where he was a good player in a mediocre team, the junior is now the Blue Devils’ second-most potent scoring threat. The 6-foot-5 forward frequents the paint and isn’t afraid to use his much-improved physicality to drive to the rim, but equally isn’t deterred by shots from deep. He can pull the playmaking strings or be the offensive scoring impetus Duke needs in tough games; just look at his 17 point showing in the Blue Devils’ tight away loss to Ohio State, 13 points against Florida State and 13 points against Miami. Even if not every game is going to be a Duke victory, Moore remains a leader on the floor and in the locker room.
Should Tuesday’s game get testy, as has often been the surprising case for the Blue Devils this season, keep an eye out for the quiet, yet reliable, excellence of “Captain Zero” to pull them through.
Clemson: Al-Amir Dawes
As The Citadel showed in their record-breaking 18-3-point show at Cameron Indoor Stadium in November, there could be a glaring weakness to this Duke team, and that’s if the other team can shoot consistently from the line and from downtown. The height and physical presence of Paolo Banchero, Mark Williams and Theo John around the defensive glass make driving to the rim a laborious task for Duke’s opponents, but if they can simply not enter that territory and score from deep the Blue Devils have yet to find a reliable answer. Duke has also been mediocre at best from the charity stripe with its 65.9% mark, meaning free-throws can be the difference between invincibility and vulnerability.
Dawes is Clemson’s most threatening perimeter shooter and is excellent from the foul line, making him a potential X-factor and Duke’s clearest shooting kryptonite. The 6-foot-2 junior put up 19 points in the Tigers’ 75-48 win against Pittsburgh, drained five 3-pointers and registered three assists, all of which led his team, and on the season has notched 43 triples and shot 85.7% from the line. Dawes is coming off a fantastic home win and enters this contest as a great shooter in great shooting form who’ll be hard for Duke to shut down. If it can, it might just storm to another blowout win like it did against Syracuse, but if its concerning porosity from deep continues and Dawes remains a marksman from beyond the arc, Clemson has a shot at ruining yet another party in Durham.
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