X-Factor: Kyle Filipowski's versatility is crucial for Duke men's basketball against Bucknell

Kyle Filipowski had 15 points and eight rebounds in Duke's win against Michigan State.
Kyle Filipowski had 15 points and eight rebounds in Duke's win against Michigan State.

After a marquee win against Michigan State, Duke men's basketball comes back home to take on Bucknell in the first game of the Blue Devil Challenge. The Blue Zone is here with a key player on either side:

Duke: Kyle Filipowski

The 2023 ACC Rookie of the Year has already proven his title as Duke began its 2023-24 season. 

The Westtown, N.Y., native put up impressive numbers in the Blue Devils’ opening three games, averaging an astounding 21.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He started the season in what seems like peak form, and established himself as one of the best players in the country. The 7-foot sophomore is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, and has shown his complete dominance against high ranked opponents like Arizona and Michigan State. What sets Filipowski apart from others his size, however, is his shooting ability, making three triples against the Wildcats.

Filipowski has been a key part of head coach Jon Scheyer’s offense, often driving to score contested baskets while being double or even triple teamed. This season, Duke’s deep roster of guards has led to a decrease in the size of Blue Devil players, but with a center like Filipowski, fans need not worry. His unmatched agility and strength allows him to bully defenders as he creates scoring opportunities for himself out of seemingly impossible situations. Not only is he an unstoppable offensive force, but he has also proven to be a servicable defender, using his size to push opponents out of the paint and force difficult shots. 

The former ESPN-rated No. 10 high school prospect brings the energy at Cameron Indoor Stadium. As he slams home dunks and blows kisses to the camera, Filipowski’s energy and celebrations rile up thundering crowds of Cameron Crazies. Against Bucknell Friday, Duke’s home court advantage and raucous student section will once again shine through, spurred on by Filipowski.

As the Blue Devils look to take on the Bison, Filipowski’s gritty playing style, dominant size and skillful shooting ability will be an integral component of Duke’s offense.

Bucknell: Jack Forrest

If the Bison want to contest the talented and experienced Blue Devil roster, senior guard Jack Forrest will have to take the charge. The Montgomery, Pa., native is averaging 16.8 points per game this season, after having an impressive season last year while battling injury. This will be Forrest’s second year with Bucknell, following his transfer from Saint Joseph’s. 

The 6-foot-5 senior has established himself as an offensive threat, and his versatile skill set makes him dangerous from outside and when driving to the basket, holding a 46.8% shooting percentage on the season. He has been a consistently strong and dominant player on the court, and seems to be hitting the peak of his college basketball career at just the right time. Forrest will have to play smart and make big plays against the Blue Devils’ backcourt of Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor, but with Forrest’s experience and recent form, the Bison stand a chance. It will be a tough matchup for his team while the boisterous Crazies make deafening noise Friday, but by utilizing Forrest’s veteran playstyle and impressive scoring abilities, Bucknell can pose a difficult challenge for the Blue Devils.


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