5 things to know before Duke men's basketball meets Iowa at Jimmy V Classic

Jacob Grandison hit two 3-pointers in Duke's win Saturday against Boston College.
Jacob Grandison hit two 3-pointers in Duke's win Saturday against Boston College.

Tuesday marks the return of the Blue Devils to the Jimmy V Classic as they take on Iowa in Madison Square Garden. With a win against the Hawkeyes, the Blue Devils would boast four wins in the competition, the most of any program. Nonetheless, the marquee matchup is sure to be dramatic as the two high-powered offenses face off. Before then, here are five things to know.

Ball control

Despite the 17th-ranked Blue Devils facing off against an unranked opponent, an Iowa upset is not out of the question. While they may have lost their place in the top 25, the Hawkeyes are certainly an offensive threat. The reigning Big Ten champions are currently leading the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.97, so their elite ball control will require staunch defense from the young Duke squad.

On top of that, Iowa boasts junior Kris Murray, who is tied for 15th-overall in points per game across all Division I players. While he may not be one of the more star-studded athletes on the college scene, he is the only player over the last 25 years to score 95 points, grab 30 rebounds, have five or fewer turnovers, shoot 60% from the field and 100% from the foul line over any four-game span. Perhaps what is most impressive is that the forward accomplished this feat in the first four games of the 2022-23 season.

Murray rounds out the quartet of Connor McCaffery, Filip Rebraca and Dasonte Bowen, who are all shooting 50% or better from the field. If the Blue Devils are to walk out of Madison Square Garden with a win, they will have to find a way to hinder the Hawkeye offense. 

Defense on lock

Iowa may have an elite offensive game, but Duke’s defense has been sharp as of late. In their most recent game against Boston College, the Blue Devils held the Eagles to 37.5% shooting after holding them to a 27.3% from the field in the first half.

“Our defense was really good finally,” said head coach Jon Scheyer after the win. “We feel like we can be a great defense team, and [with] a versatile group, [you can] incorporate full court pressure, whether it be zone or man, and use our size and length to protect.” 

With its win on Saturday, Duke held its sixth opponent of the year to less than 60 points, with 25 defensive rebounds, four steals and seven blocks. Putting the Hawkeyes under pressure and using defensive stars like sophomore Jaylen Blakes to continue their good defensive efforts will be crucial to earning a victory. 

Lively comes alive

Coming in as the second-ranked player in the 2022 recruiting class, freshman Dereck Lively II has a lot on his shoulders. While he has not quite lived up to his potential yet, fans got a glimpse of his star power against the Eagles Saturday afternoon, as he put up eight points through showstopping dunks. The Jimmy V Classic could be the perfect big stage to put his talents on full display. 

“I thought he had one of the big plays, where he dove on the floor for the loose ball,” said Scheyer about Lively’s performance against Boston College. “Dereck made that and then he’s going to score, driving the attack, and that’s going to come naturally for him. He just needs some more game reps.” 

Aside from his impressive offensive outing, the Philadelphia native had three blocks on the defensive end, using his 7-foot-1 frame to his advantage. As he gets more comfortable out on the court and gets more practices under his belt, Lively is sure to be a key player for the Blue Devils. Tuesday’s contest is just one more opportunity for him to prove he is among the best in the freshman class. 

Veteran experience

Duke touts it young guns, as they get much of the attention, but the veterans are the ones that pull this team together. Against Iowa, the Blue Devils will likely turn to the duo that has the most experience against the Big Ten: graduate transfers Ryan Young (Northwestern) and Jacob Grandison (Illinois). As was the case in Duke’s Phil Knight Legacy matchup against Purdue, Young and Grandison come with invaluable knowledge they can pass on to the Duke youngsters.

“I played against those guys, you know, for a few years now,” said Young about Purdue. “You get better from just more and more experience against different and bigger players.”

For their part, the two veteran players had big contributions against the Eagles. Grandison had 10 points on the night with two 3-pointers, six defensive rebounds and three assists. Young, while not as dominant in the paint as he has proven to be, had six points, four rebounds and two blocks. 

If both veterans can have solid offensive production while also providing valuable leadership against a Big Ten opponent, they will be linchpins in their squad’s win. 

Second chances

Despite achieving their first ACC win, the Blue Devils allowed Boston College to get 22 second-chance points and 14 offensive rebounds, which allowed the Eagles to close the lead in the second half. 

“I think we were spread a little thin trying to take away the three as we got the lead,” said Scheyer. “That’s still something we have to clean up and continue to build on.”

While Boston College did not punish Duke, the Hawkeyes will, given the opportunity. In almost every game this season, Iowa has had double-digit second-chance points. In its recent outing against Georgia Tech in the last installment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, it had a season-high 27 points off of second-chance opportunities. The Blue Devils will have to be sharp with their own stellar rebounding game on defense to keep the Hawkeyes from cashing in. 

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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