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X-Factor: Keels, Manek will play key roles as Duke men's basketball takes on North Carolina

Trevor Keels scored a career-high 27 points Tuesday against Pittsburgh.
Trevor Keels scored a career-high 27 points Tuesday against Pittsburgh.

With Duke set to close out the regular season Saturday at home against rival North Carolina, the Blue Zone previews a player from both sides who can be a difference-maker for his team:

Duke: Trevor Keels

Trevor Keels is back and better than ever. The freshman guard, who started his season by dropping 25 points against Kentucky in the season opener, is poised to close out the regular season in a similar fashion. He is coming off of a career-high showing against Pittsburgh in which he scored 27 points and shot 10-of-15 from the field. His five made three-pointers were his most in a single game; Keels seems to have gotten his touch back. 

In the first rivalry matchup of the season, Keels flashed that same shooting prowess. He made 3-of-4 attempts beyond the arc, a third of the team's nine total treys. Even with only 20 minutes on the court in his second game back from injury, he made his presence known. 

In what may be his final game in Cameron Indoor Stadium, playing for a legendary coach and riding the momentum of a career-high performance, Keels is poised to come up big. If he can continue his shooting excellence and make clutch shots in important moments, he will be the difference-maker in Duke’s last regular-season game. 

North Carolina: Brady Manek

Brady Manek is a force on both ends of the court. His 5.6 rebounds per game are second for the Tar Heels only to rebounding expert Armando Bacot. The graduate transfer from Oklahoma has six steals in his last six games, proving his utility. Offensively, Manek poses a formidable threat to the Blue Devils. He is averaging 14.2 points per game with six 20-point showings on the season, one of which was in the first rivalry game of the season. 

The source of many of those points for Manek is his 3-point shot. It was one of the few bright spots for North Carolina when the two teams met in February. Manek made 6-of-10 long-range attempts in the loss, leading the Tar Heels with 21 points. He also led the team in rebounds with six, tying senior forward Leaky Black. While the game might have been one-sided, Manek’s performance surely kept hope in the hearts of many North Carolina fans. 

If he has done it before, he can do it again. Another impressive 3-point performance from Manek would help spark his teammates in what is sure to be an intense, emotional game. If Bacot is once again shut down on the boards, it will be up to Manek to make up that crucial aspect of the Tar Heels’ game and lead his team against the top squad in the ACC. 

Rachael Kaplan | Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.


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