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Three points: Perimeter defense, dominance on the glass paramount for Duke men's basketball against Miami

Tyrese Proctor (left) and Dereck Lively II (right) communicate in Duke's win against North Carolina.
Tyrese Proctor (left) and Dereck Lively II (right) communicate in Duke's win against North Carolina.

Fresh off a morale-boosting win against North Carolina over the weekend, Duke next rematches Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., Monday night. The Blue Zone is here with three keys to a win:

Next game

As much as Duke would love to celebrate taking down its archrivals in a 63-57 thriller, Saturday’s win against North Carolina was only the first in the Blue Devils’ toughest three-game stretch this season. After traveling to Miami to face the 19th-ranked Hurricanes, Duke will head to Charlottesville, Va., to face No. 8 Virginia. Moreover, the Hurricanes are fresh off a huge win of their own, taking down conference-leading Clemson on the road. The first time these two teams met in January, Duke was coming off a loss at Clemson and desperately needed a win. It found one in a two-point nailbiter. Miami star Isaiah Wong scored just seven points in the outing, and the Hurricanes nearly mounted a late comeback. This time around, both teams are playing some of their best basketball of the year, and Duke no longer has the advantage of the Cameron Crazies. While the Blue Devils are an undefeated 12-0 at home, they are only 5-6 outside of Durham. Therefore, Duke needs to come into its matchup with Miami with just as much energy as it brought against the Tar Heels last weekend. These next two road tests, starting with the Hurricanes, may say more about the character of this Duke team than the victory against its rivals from Chapel Hill. 

Perimeter defense  

In their first meeting Jan. 21, the Hurricanes shot 10-for-21 from deep, including two late triples from Wong. Miami has been lights-out from behind the arc all season, shooting 36%. However, the Blue Devils have done a remarkable job guarding the perimeter, holding their opponents to just a 29.9% average mark. A main reason for this number is the relentlessness of guards Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach in fighting over ball screens, but centers like Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively II have done an admirable job of staying with guards on a switch as well. All of this points to the perimeter as the area of focus for the Duke defense, which did a great job of containing Wong for the first half of the previous matchup. Playing on the road will only make this task harder, but if the Blue Devils can force Miami to beat them from inside the arc, they have a good chance at sweeping the season series. 

Win the battle on the glass 

While the perimeter will be a battle against Miami’s strengths, the fight inside caters to Duke. After containing the best rebounder in the ACC in North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Lively and company are poised to dominate a much smaller Hurricanes team on the glass. However, a flurry of perimeter jumpers from Miami spells long rebounds that Duke will need to stop from turning into extra possessions. Specifically, Duke will need to keep Norchad Omier off the glass. 87 of the Nicaragua native’s 233 rebounds have come on the offensive glass, and he had 14 boards in his first matchup against the Blue Devils. While the transfer from Arkansas State is only 6-foot-7, he has more offensive rebounds than any player on Duke’s team. If Lively plays how he did Saturday night, this task should be no problem, and the Blue Devils should dominate the glass, paving the way to a win.  


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