For the first time since 2016 Duke enters a contest outside of the Associated Press’ Top 25 poll. The Blue Devils head up north to face the Pittsburgh Panthers and former associate coach and player Jeff Capel Tuesday Night; a game that was scheduled earlier this season, but postponed due to Covid tracing within the Panthers’ locker room.
The Panthers leading scorer and forward Justin Champagnie returned from injury just in time for their last game against Syracuse – providing a much needed spark shooting 50 percent from the field (9/18) for 24 points, 16 boards and 3 blocks in 34 minutes of action. Matthew Hurt will have his hands full if he’s undisciplined on the defensive end.
Coach K stated freshman forward Jalen Johnson has been a full participant in practices since Duke’s last game at Virginia Tech – the Blue Devils’ first defeat within conference. According to ESPN’s Andy Katz’s Bracketology, Duke is one of the last four teams in the Big Dance, so every game going forward could be a much needed win for the Blue Devils who continue to build their resume.
Overall, Jeff Capel will have his squad locked and loaded to play against a Duke team that has yet to show consistency on both ends of the floor this season. The lack of an interior presence and go-to scorer on the wing has exposed Duke against athletic and veteran led teams. The Devils still have yet to have a notable win on their resume this season.
The Pittsburgh Panthers are only allowing their opponents to shoot 39 percent from the field, so running an efficient offense will be paramount. Taking quick shots within possessions will hurt Duke. Efficient possessions will be key for the Blue Devils.
If Duke wants to avoid a two game losing streak in conference play, in the midst of a 3 game road stretch that includes traveling to Louisville next, the Devils will have to take care of the basketball. The freshman duo of Jeremy Roach and D.J. Steward have to allow the game to come to them and force the issue on defense by moving their feet, not just tacking on touch fouls. It’s time for Duke to turn it up a notch and set the tempo with their defense. Tre Jones is not walking through that door, so establishing the tone starts at the point guard position. Who wants to take the lead? We will see at 9:00 P.M. against the Panthers of Pitt.
How to Watch:
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jon Crispin)
Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Blue Devil Sports (David Shumate, John Roth)
Stream: GoDuke.com; TuneIn app