X-Factor: Roach's consistency crucial for Duke men's basketball's second clash with Wake Forest

Senior guard Jeremy Roach elevates for a layup in Duke's win at Miami.
Senior guard Jeremy Roach elevates for a layup in Duke's win at Miami.

After a big win against Miami, Duke will conclude its three-game road series at Wake Forest. Before the contest, the Blue Zone is here with a potential difference-maker from each squad:

Duke: Jeremy Roach 

As head coach Jon Scheyer noted after the team’s 84-55 win against Miami, senior guard Jeremy Roach has had much of his play go unnoticed this season. Besides hot streaks by teammates like Jared McCain and Mark Mitchell, Roach’s consistency throughout the season has been essential in placing the Blue Devils at the top spot in the ACC along with North Carolina. Duke’s captain is averaging 15.3 points over the team’s last four victories and led the Blue Devils with 16 points in their blowout win in Coral Gables, Fla. The Leesburg, Va., native went 4-for-8 from the field and shot 66.7% from beyond the arc, preventing the Hurricanes from gaining any momentum. 

Duke’s previous matchup against Wake Forest featured strong performances by Kyle Filipowski and Mark Mitchell, finding ways to drive to the net and capitalize on size. Still, Roach found ways to contribute to the team’s success, putting up 12 points and coming in with a clutch three to extend the lead late in the game. In an intense road environment and an opponent hungry for a rematch, the presence of the program’s captain is essential in closing out the trip with a victory. Roach can impact the game off the ball when he facilitates the Blue Devil offense and keeps the team’s composure during moments of pressure by the opponent. If he displays a consistent and competitive performance, the rest of the offense should follow suit. 

Wake Forest: Hunter Sallis 

Duke enters its matchup against a Demon Deacon team high on energy after they too posted a blowout win against their in-conference opponent in Pittsburgh. The team’s 91-58 victory was led by none other than junior guard Hunter Sallis, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range and scoring 17 points. The Omaha, Neb., native is a dominant and known player on the court, posting an average playing time of 35 minutes per game. 

Although the Blue Devils came away with the win when they welcomed Wake Forest Feb. 12, Sallis made his presence known in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The junior guard scored 14 of the Demon Deacons’ 27 first-half points, keeping his team to just a two-point deficit. Sallis proved difficult to contain, going 10-of-20 from field goal range and 40% from beyond the arc. Averaging 18.3 points per game, the Gonzaga transfer’s skillset isn’t just limited to his shooting. Sallis has the ability to make plays off the ball and orchestrate the entire offense. In order for Duke to come back to Durham with an undefeated road trip, the Blue Devils need to contain Sallis and prevent Wake Forest from getting set up on the offensive end.


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