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5 things to know before Duke men's basketball's top-25 matchup against Ohio State

Duke and Ohio State played this time a season ago in Columbus, Ohio.
Duke and Ohio State played this time a season ago in Columbus, Ohio.

Wednesday evening, No. 17 Duke welcomes No. 25 Ohio State to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a matchup in the last-ever ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Before then, here are five things to know.

Sueing on offense

What Duke has lacked in recent games is what Ohio State excels in: offense. In the Buckeyes’ last game against Texas Tech, Justice Sueing justified this offensive prowess on the court by scoring 33 points in 31 minutes.

“We wanted to come to this game aggressive, knowing that they’re a really defense-minded team. So we wanted to be aggressive and not let them dictate how we play,” Sueing said after the game. “The past couple of games I’ve been struggling to get back into the flow of things, being out from an injury.”

After a dodgy start to the season, Sueing has come back as a crucial force. The Honolulu native collected eight rebounds against Texas Tech, four of them being offensive boards, along with a 63% field goal percentage. 

Duke is on the flip side of the coin from the Buckeyes and has ended recent games that might have been easy wins as close calls. Against Xavier, the Blue Devils held a six-point halftime lead before picking up during the second half, winning 71-64.

The Blue Devil from Down Under

Freshman guard Tyrese Proctor scored the most points of any Blue Devil in Sunday’s game against Purdue. The Sydney native was sensational, although it was not enough to dig out Duke in the 19-point loss. 

“We dug deep on defense and really emphasized that coming out of the second half. That was our main focus,” Proctor said. 

The 6-foot-5 guard ignited his defense during the game. Changing his play during the second half, the Aussie grabbed four defensive rebounds, but the Blue Devils came short of the Boilermakers' 28 defensive rebounds. 

Proctor is going to be up against a challenge this week against Ohio State. While the Buckeyes ranked 206th nationally in rebounding last year, a new era has begun for them this season, as they average 41.5 rebounds per game. Throw in the fact that Ohio State has a more experienced starting lineup, and the Blue Devils may be in for a rollercoaster.

3-point scare

Duke’s 3-point shooting had a blood-curdling fate at the Phil Knight Legacy. Of the Blue Devils’ 17 3-point attempts against Purdue, only two by Kyle Filipowski were triumphant. 

This statistic is not entirely surprising. On Thursday, the Blue Devils defeated Oregon State 54-51, but the same lack of successful 3-point shooting existed. Duke had 29 3-point opportunities, but made only five.

The real challenge comes against Ohio State freshman Brice Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh has been dominating and shooting 46.2% on 3-pointers, making him a threat to the Blue Devils. For Duke to win Wednesday, making 3-point shots is key—but might be a bigger bump than originally expected. 

Lively’s offense

Ranked third in the 2022 recruiting class, Dereck Lively II has potential to live up to in his collegiate career. But during the 22 minutes played by the Philadelphia native against Purdue, Lively was rather disappointing, scoring zero points. 

This should not come across as entirely shocking, as the 7-foot-1 center has had a lackluster season thus far. Duke’s win against Delaware marked the highest amount of points scored by Lively (5). Averaging 2.7 points per game, the center certainly has had a disheartening start to the season on the offensive end. 

“Our bigs really fought on [Purdue center Zach Edey], particularly Dereck at the start. I thought he made it difficult for them,” Scheyer said after Sunday’s loss. 

There is still potential for Lively to redeem himself against Ohio State. Bringing the top recruit’s offense out is key to a Blue Devil win. 

Run up the rebounding

Wednesday’s game against Ohio State is going to be somewhat of a tug-of-war. With both the Buckeyes and the Blue Devils averaging right under 42 rebounds for the season so far, the key to winning lies on the boards. 

“For our young guys, they're used to having the ball in their hands all the time [and] used to valuing scoring as the way to make an impact,” Scheyer said. “And really for us, we've emphasized defend and rebound.”

Duke’s starting lineup is extremely young, with all but one Blue Devil starter being freshmen. Emphasizing teamwork might be a no-brainer, but for the Blue Devils, it seems to be what is halting them, and it could hurt their ability to successfully rebound against a mature Ohio State team—especially with such close averages for the season thus far. 

Rebounding will be the bread-and-butter for winning Wednesday’s game for both Ohio State and Duke. Add in the rebounding talent of Filipowski and Ohio State’s Zed Key, and this game will be suspenseful, to say the least. 

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