The Duke Blue Devils are looking to get revenge on the Louisville Cardinals who defeated them on January 23rd, 79-73 in a game that came down to the final 3 minutes of the contest. Matthew Hurt, ACC POY Front-runner, fouling out in the final minutes changed the entire dynamic of the ball game. The Cardinals adjusted during the second half of the matchup, giving David Johnson defensive duties on Hurt and disrupting the offensive scheme of the Blue Devils. The athleticism of Johnson had a monumental effect on Hurt, limiting him to only seven points in the second half.
Louisville has played only two games in the last 3 weeks due to covid-19 tracing throughout the locker room. Consequently, the team hasn’t fully practiced due to quarantine protocols. The Cardinals suffered a 45-point (99-54) thumping at UNC last Saturday, but bounced back versus Notre Dame despite several players missing the contest. It’s still uncertain whether some players will return versus Duke, including star combo-guard David Johnson.
What’s the Sudden Change for Duke?
Since the departure of Jalen Johnson the team has completely bought into playing defense, and more importantly, putting each other first. The Blue Devils are buying into and embracing their roles, respecting and knowing each others limitations, getting good ball movement, and showing effort on both ends of the court. Implementing the 7-footer Mark Williams into the starting lineup allows Matthew Hurt to gain the opposing team’s respect from outside and inside the 3-point line. Being a reflection of Coach K is what has changed for Duke Basketball. They’re a threat by committee, not just one individual.
3 Keys for Duke
Continue Moving the Rock
Against Syracuse, Duke assisted on 27 of it’s 34 field goals – a season high. Mark Williams scored a career high 18 points and 11 rebounds. If Duke is able to move the ball, not allowing Louisville to play bully ball as they did at the KFC Yum Centre, they should continue their win-streak – adding another quad-1 win to their NCAA Tournament resume.
Controlling the Boards & 2nd Chance Points
In the first matchup, the Cardinals pounded Duke on the glass winning the battle 34-26. The difference, Mark Williams didn’t log one minute of game action. That certainly won’t be the case in Cameron. In addition to controlling the boards, Duke has to guard without fouling. 23 team fouls, including putting a team in the bonus who shoots above 72 percent from the charity stripe, is not efficiency.
The implementation of Jordan Goldwire off the bench not only illustrates his willingness to put the team first, but reveals veteran leadership. Some Seniors wouldn’t like coming off the bench in favor of two freshman, especially if they have an ego. Having the ability to bring a player off the bench that leads the ACC in assists to turnover ratio (2.77 per NCAA stats), and instantly impacts the game on the defensive end is a treasure on its own.
How to Watch
TV: ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Chris Spatola)
Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Blue Devil Sports (David Shumate,John Roth)