Duke men's basketball faces N.C. State at home at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday afternoon. Ahead of the in-state rivalry showdown, the Blue Zone brings three crucial points for a Blue Devil victory:
Distribute the ball
Duke is coming off an important conference road win against Wake Forest, bouncing back after a tough loss against the Hurricanes. While Paolo Banchero consistently stands out on the court, scoring 20 or more points in six games this season, it is far more sustainable to share the ball rather than depend on the star forward to produce the bulk of the points.
In their matchup against the Demon Deacons, the Blue Devils did just that: three of the starting five ended the game with point totals in the double digits to combine for 57 of the 76-point total. Banchero led these leading scorers with 24, while AJ Griffin followed closely behind with a career high of 22 and Trevor Keels trailed with 11. These high scorers compensated for Wendell Moore Jr.’s dip in points, as he only put up 7 points, nine down from his season average coming in of 16.0. For Duke to find success against the Wolfpack, it should look to continue this collaborative streak.
Assert dominance in the second half
Duke tends to experience shaky first halves, and the Wake Forest game was no different. The Blue Devils started off strong, outscoring the Demon Deacons 12-4 five minutes into the first half, with Banchero leading with six points and one assist. The game tensed up as it progressed, though, and Duke found itself down by two with a little under two minutes until the end of the first frame. Bouncing back with a pair of threes, one each from Griffin and Keels, Duke left the court for halftime with a six-point lead.
The Blue Devils then came into the second half roaring from the get-go, continuing their hot streak by making their first nine shots to extend their lead to an impressive 20 points. They continued to assert their dominance, never wavering as they prevented the Demon Deacons from putting a comeback streak together and regaining their lead. This renewed energy reflected itself in the team’s shooting: the Blue Devils’ accuracy from the field improved dramatically from 42.4% to 60.7% across halves. Without a doubt, their energy and dominance throughout the entirety of the second half allowed them to close out the game and bring home the win.
It’s a no-brainer: limiting Duke’s own turnovers while simultaneously capitalizing off those by the opposing team is a recipe for success. In their most recent matchup, the Blue Devils excelled in this category, tabling seven steals and scoring 22 points off turnovers, nearly 30% of their total points. This is in very stark contrast to its game against Miami, where Duke scored a lowly two points off turnovers while giving up a sloppy 17 turnovers to the Hurricanes.
Going into their date with N.C. State this Saturday, laser focus to limit sloppy mistakes and communication errors is essential if the Blue Devils are to succeed. The Wolfpack have done a solid job capitalizing off their opponents’ turnovers, as approximately 20% of their points over the past three games have come off these turnovers. In tight games where even one bucket makes all the difference, achieving a low turnover ratio is a key to victory.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.