Duke enters the Phil Knight Legacy at 3 p.m. Thursday with its first game against Oregon State. Before tipoff, the Blue Zone has three key points that can lead to a Blue Devil victory:
Win the free throw game
In each of its first five games this year, Duke has made more free throws than the other team has attempted. Limiting fouls and converting from the charity stripe will be huge for the Blue Devils, and it will be necessary for a victory against an Oregon State team that is equally as effective from the line as Duke. The Beavers enter Thursday having made 63-of-83 attempts while the Blue Devils have made 65-of-85. However, Oregon State has also given up 37 more free throws to opponents than the Blue Devils have. If Thursday’s game is close, the win will likely come down to the team that makes the best of its free throw chances and limits its opponent's opportunities at the line.
Pour it in from deep
The Blue Devils’ greatest asset in their game against Bellarmine Monday was their ability to score from behind the arc—they drained 42 of their 74 points from deep while shooting at a 40.0% clip. However, Duke entered that game shooting just 30.6% from three, as its outside efficiency in earlier games left much to be desired. A major key for the Blue Devils this week in Portland, Ore., will be continuing to have a hot hand from three, as it gives a versatile dimension to their offense. Keeping defenders honest on the perimeter will open scoring lanes for drives and post looks. Watch specifically for players like Kyle Filipowski, Tyrese Proctor and Jacob Grandison to catch fire downtown.
While the Blue Devils sit at 4-1 on the season, head coach Jon Scheyer has yet to secure a win against a ranked opponent. Considering the team lost to Kansas in the Champions Classic, there is an added pressure for the team to perform well this week. Hence, it is crucial that the Blue Devils earn a victory not just against Oregon State, but against their next two opponents, which includes a possible matchup against No. 6 Gonzaga. If the Blue Devils fare well this week, they may cement themselves in national contender consideration before conference play while also bringing confidence to the young team. It all starts on Turkey Day, so make sure to watch carefully as Duke faces Oregon State in what is sure to be an entertaining contest.
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