After 10 days without court time, the Blue Devils resume conference play Tuesday in Winston Salem, N.C. Here are three keys to success for No. 14 Duke’s matchup against Wake Forest:
The Demon Deacons may not be ranked, but they do boast one of the highest scorers in one of college basketball’s most elite conferences. Graduate student guard Tyree Appleby is third in the ACC in points this season, averaging 18 per game. Comparatively, Duke score leader Kyle Filipowski stands at a mean 14.8 per game. For Appleby, it’s all in the three; the 6-foot shooting guard heads into Tuesday’s matchup with a career-high 44% success rate from downtown. Complementing this impressive percentage is Appleby’s prowess all over the court—he has hit 51.9% of his field goals this season, meaning he is a danger inside and outside the arc.
To stop him, then, the Blue Devils will need defense working in tandem up top and down low. A defensive combination of freshman center Dereck Lively II, who blocked five shots in his most recent appearance, and junior point guard Jeremy Roach might just do the trick—especially if they can stay clean and avoid opening up further opportunities for Appleby at the charity stripe.
Hold onto the ball
The only thing getting the Blue Devils down against Maryland Eastern Shore was 19 turnovers forced by the Hawks. Even when lagging with a 24-point deficit against Rutgers, Wake Forest was able to snag the ball 16 times from the Scarlet Knights, tallying a total 13 points off these turnovers. This doesn’t fare well for Duke, as protecting the ball from high turnover numbers has been an issue in a few of its games this season. This many turnovers is, of course, the result of missed rebounds—while the Blue Devils snagged an average of 16.8 offensive boards per game in their first five games this season, their last five have seen a far slimmer mean of 11.2. Lively, Filipowski and graduate student center Ryan Young need to have Tuesday’s basket on lock, ready to fight for the ball and ensure it stays in Duke’s possession. This means competing with Wake Forest’s 6-foot-10 junior forward Andrew Carr, who averages 5.1 rebounds per game, and his teammate Cameron Hildreth, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard who leads the Demon Deacons in rebounds with 6.3 per game. Duke’s best shot at quieting these two players and suppressing turnovers Tuesday can be found in the 7-foot Filipowski, who leads the Blue Devils with a 9.2 rebound-per-game average.
Duke’s depth this season is such that every game showcases a new star player. Most recently, that was freshman forward Dariq Whitehead, who introduced Cameron Indoor Stadium to his variety of talent in the Blue Devils’ last matchup against Maryland Eastern Shore. After his late start due to a fractured foot, the Newark, N.J., native rejoined his teammates to defeat Delaware back in November. Now with nine games under his belt, Whitehead is on his way to fulfilling the expectations set for him when he joined the Blue Devils as a five-star forward known for his trusty shooting arm. In his performance against Maryland Eastern Shore, Whitehead earned a digit in every stat box except for fouls, playing a completely clean game, where he led the Blue Devils with 15 points, and also picked up two assists, two rebounds, two steals and block. Whitehead was all over the court, showcasing his proficiency as a team player while also putting up shots whenever given the chance. This kind of action against Wake Forest could push Duke to success in its second conference game of the season, especially given the Demon Deacons’ lack of depth. Combining the talents of Whitehead with the likes of Roach and Filipowski will be a triple threat that even Appleby will not be able to handle alone.
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Sophie Levenson is a Trinity first-year and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.