Hoping to rebound from a resounding defeat at N.C. State, Duke heads north to take on Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Blue Zone is here with a potential difference-maker for both teams as the Blue Devils try to get back to winning ways:
Duke: Dariq Whitehead
A five-star recruit and the No. 3 player in his class, Dariq Whitehead entered Duke with high expectations. These were heightened by his preseason injury, as fans anticipated his return and immediate impact. However, the freshman forward got off to a somewhat slow start, averaging just 5.3 points per game through his team's Dec. 3 meeting with Boston College. In addition, while he has a pure form jump shot, Whitehead has struggled thus far from deep, shooting only 33.3%.
Since then, Whitehead has shown major improvements, including three-straight double-digit performances and going 4-of-7 from deep against N.C. State Jan. 4. With his ability to create chances for himself off the dribble at an elite level, Whitehead has the ability to become the go-to guy for the Blue Devils when they need a bucket.
While this may still be a long way off, Whitehead can take another step forward against Boston College. Because of his size and athleticism, the Eagles do not have anyone that matches up well with Whitehead. The inevitable switches on Duke’s many screens will give Whitehead chances to take advantage of mismatches.
After an ugly loss at the hands of the Wolfpack, Duke needs a strong showing against Boston College. With his recent success and ability to score one-on-one, Whitehead can provide a much-needed spark.
Boston College: Jaeden Zackery
Jaeden Zackery, a sophomore guard for the Eagles, is averaging just under 11 points per game this season and finished with 14 in Boston College’s first matchup with Duke. He is a second-year starter who averaged a similar 10.4 points per game as a freshman. Moreover, Zackery shot 47.7% from 3-point range in his freshman campaign, and while that number has taken a hit so far this season—he currently is only shooting 28.3% from deep—the Blue Devils will need to keep an eye on Zackery on the perimeter.
Duke will undoubtedly have a size advantage in its second matchup with Boston College, and the only way the Eagles will be able to stay in the game is a downpour of threes. If Zackery can get hot, he can help to lead this charge.
This could very well happen, as Zackery is coming off a season-high 18 points in a win against Notre Dame. While he only shot two threes in that game, he finished an efficient 70% from the field as the Eagles took down the Fighting Irish in arguably their biggest win of the season. The Blue Devils will need to contain a red-hot Zackery to stifle the Boston College offense as well as they did in their first matchup.
While his 14 points were nowhere near enough to overcome the Blue Devil onslaught the first time around, Boston College will lean on Zackery to again produce big numbers in hopes of knocking Duke off at home. Zackery will likely be guarded by a combination of Jaylen Blakes, Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor, all of whom have shown the chops for elite defense. These three will need to stay out of foul trouble, as Zackery has gotten to the line eight times in three games this season.
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