The Blue Devils come back home for a big in-state rivalry game. Before tip-off, the Blue Zone takes a look at a player for both sides that can make a difference Saturday.
N.C. State: Dereon Seabron
N.C. State’s star center Manny Bates went down with a shoulder injury in its opening game against Bucknell. Since then, redshirt sophomore Dereon Seabron has answered the call to step up for the Wolfpack.
Seabron leads his team with 20.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He doesn’t just lead his team with his impressive numbers—the redshirt sophomore ranks among the ACC’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He’s earned nine double-doubles this season—more than any other guard in the country.
The sophomore has proven himself to be a versatile offensive presence, serving as the Wolfpack's primary ball-handler several games this season, but he’s best known for his ability to get to the rim. With 107 free throw attempts this season, it’s clear Seabron can give teams trouble as he goes up strong inside, but his ability to drive and force defenders inward can also leave consistent shooters like freshman Terquavion Smith wide open.
If the game ends up close, it’ll be Seabron that makes or breaks the game for the Wolfpack. Over their last three games, he has averaged 17.3 points on 44.8% shooting in the second half alone. With his endurance and explosive style of play, Duke cannot afford to fatigue throughout the game if they hope to limit Seabron’s effectiveness inside.
Duke: Trevor Keels
Duke’s ability to walk out of Cameron with a victory Saturday will depend on if they’re able to stop Seabron. Seabron has dominated the Wolfpack’s play and is consistently relied on by his teammates for offensive success. The Blue Devils will need to shut him down on defense and also come up with a consistent offensive presence of their own—and that starts with improvements from Trevor Keels.
The freshman guard put up an unusually low 18.2% field goal percentage and shot 16.7% from deep against Miami Saturday but rebounded with an 11 point outing Wednesday. With freshman star Paolo Banchero struggling to put up big numbers out of the gate on a consistent basis—he made just one goal in the first half against the Hurricanes—and sophomore center Mark Williams only putting up 8.8 points per game for Duke, Keels needs to be a consistent shooter if the Blue Devils want to explode offensively.
Duke fans have seen how meaningful the Clinton, Md., native can be, saving the Blue Devils when four players left the game against Kentucky due to cramps. His on-ball defense has stood out throughout the season, which Duke will need against the Wolfpack's wings, and he represents a threat from the outside that the Wolfpack has had trouble guarding this season—in spite of his 30.7% clip on the season. If his shots fall in better than they did last week, Duke doesn’t have much to stress about Saturday on national TV.
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Leah Boyd is a Pratt junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 117th volume.