X-Factor: A breakout game from Lively could lead Duke men's basketball to fifth-straight win against Wake Forest

Dereck Lively II scored 11 points against Ohio State.
Dereck Lively II scored 11 points against Ohio State.

After a 10-day hiatus, Duke returns to the court to resume ACC play in a game against Wake Forest. Before Tuesday night’s local matchup, the Blue Zone previews one player on each side that could make the difference in Winston-Salem, N.C.:

Duke: Dereck Lively II

To put it frankly, highly-touted freshman big Dereck Lively II has struggled in his first two months as a Blue Devil. Averaging just 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds a game, the center plays an exchangeable role with graduate transfer Ryan Young in the frontcourt. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of room for optimism. In the freshman’s best game yet, he put up 11 points and five rebounds in Duke’s 81-72 win against Ohio State. While he was unable to run up his statline in 18 minutes of play, head coach Jon Scheyer praised Lively’s effort at the postgame press conference. The Philadelphia native recovered from a calf injury early in the season which significantly slowed his impact in non-conference play. However, Tuesday’s ACC game has all the ingredients of Lively’s first show of star power in a Duke uniform. In their past three games, the Demon Deacons displayed a struggle to defend forwards, allowing an average of nearly 37 points in the paint per game. To extend its winning streak to five, Duke will need Lively to establish himself as a lob threat and a presence down low. 

Wake Forest: Tyree Appleby

Transferring to Wake Forest from Florida for his graduate year, Tyree Appleby has stood out as one of the best guards in the conference. Averaging an excellent 18 points and 5.1 assists per game, Appleby will surely prove a handful for Duke’s backcourt. So far this year, the Jacksonville, Ark., native has flashed improved shooting ability, filling it up from deep at a rate of 44.0%. In Wake Forest’s 77-57 loss against Clemson, Appleby scored just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. As with most leaders, Appleby’s play serves as a litmus test for the Demon Deacons' performances—his above average productions end in above average results. From the Blue Devil perspective, look for Scheyer to experiment with multiple different looks on Appleby, including junior captain Jeremy Roach, freshman Tyrese Proctor and sophomore Jaylen Blakes. Scheyer threw freshmen Mark Mitchell and Dariq Whitehead at Iowa star Kris Murray, and the strategy paid off, holding the talented forward to just eight points in a Blue Devil 74-62 win. In order for Wake Forest to give Duke a run for its money, Appleby must live up to his billing. 


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