Duke hopes to respond from its road loss at Clemson last weekend against No. 17 Miami. Before the two teams square off at 12 p.m. Saturday, the Blue Zone is here with three keys to a Blue Devil victory:
Home court advantage
Despite the Blue Devils’ turbulent away record, Duke has managed to stay undefeated at home, even against tough teams like Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Fed by the energy of the Cameron Crazies, the Blue Devils have delivered spectacular performances with suffocating defense and spurts of stellar shooting on their home court. They will need all the spirit they can get from their home crowd against a Miami team that is ranked No. 17 in the country. Lucky for Duke, however, the Hurricanes have also struggled when they travel. Recently dropping away contests to Georgia Tech and N.C. State, they will likely find it difficult to play inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils need to keep the Hurricanes from getting comfortable and suddenly proving themselves in an away game.
In its tough loss to Clemson last Saturday, it would be safe to say that Duke could not shoot the ball when it mattered most. Only shooting 38.1% overall and 15% from three, the Blue Devils struggled to get their offense going in the closing minutes of a game they could have won. For a team that usually shoots 43.1% from the field with a 31% rate from beyond the arc, it wasn’t its best performance. A matchup against Miami gives Duke the opportunity to get its offensive groove back while making smart decisions with the ball in its hands. With a focus on high-percentage plays that compliment the Blue Devils’ strengths instead of difficult 3-pointers, Duke can gain more confidence and build a smooth, elite offensive unit. However, it is up against a Hurricanes squad that shoots 48.1% from the field and 33.7% from three. As a result, the Blue Devils will have to be sharp on offense to have a chance at victory.
Reignite the fire
For the first time since the 2020-21 season, Duke was unranked in this week’s AP Poll, in large part due to its performance when playing away from home, holding a 1-3 record. To add salt to their wounds, after their loss to the Tigers, the Blue Devils officially dropped to ninth place in the ACC. For a team that finished at the top of the conference a year ago, it is a tough pill to swallow. Going up against a ranked Miami team will be a tall order, one that will require Duke to tap into its determination to win. It needs to shake off the loss and live up to its potential, which would start with a victory against the Hurricanes. To prove it belongs in the AP Poll, it has to start playing like the star-studded team it is. Simply put, it needs to reignite the fire that will fuel it toward more wins and into the NCAA tournament on a high.
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