The Louisville Cardinals swept Duke this season in very competitive matchups, leaving a young Blue Devil team wondering what it actually takes to defeat a guard oriented squad whose play has been the difference in both matchups.
Coach K recently uttered the same sentiments of the Cardinals’ backcourt being so lethal to contain at times. That won’t stop Mike Krzyzewski from having his team bring the fight this evening live from the Greensboro Coliseum. There’s a saying that it’s tough to beat a team three times in a single season. We will find out at 6:30 tonight.
Where Does It Start?
Stopping the best backcourt in the ACC in Carlik Jones and David Johnson will be key for the Blue Devils. In the first matchup on January 23rd the two combined for 36 points, 10 assists, and 11 rebounds. During round two, which ultimately went into overtime, Carlik Jones was the story, taking over in crunch time, facilitating, orchestrating and having his way on any Duke defender – scoring 25 points, 4 rebounds, with 6 assists. That performance solidified him making the First Team All-ACC.
For Duke, having a balanced attack will be crucial. From Mark Williams eating in the interior, to the sharp-shooters of Steward, Roach, Hurt, and Baker hitting from outside…that is what makes Duke dangerous; Playing with confidence and poise. Duke is playing with house money tonight.
You Live to Fight Another Day
For Duke to survive and advance it will be the same story that it has been all season – Play DEFENSE!!! Containing the backcourt duo (Jones, Johnson) and keeping them out of the lane is monumental. Jones and Johnson can get to the basket at will, so expect Duke to play some zone to slow the pace and tempo down. The emergence of Mark Williams tonight should help Duke play its inside-out game where Matthew Hurt will need another big performance, scoring 37 in a loss two weeks ago. The most important factor will be Duke’s freshman backcourt duo of Jeremy Roach and D.J. Steward playing consistent and efficient. The duo, whether you want to admit it or not, is the catalyst for Duke. The tournament has always, and will always, be about guard play.
How to Watch & Listen:
6:30 PM ACC Network with Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas
Radio: David Shumate, John Roth Blue Devils Sports Network (Learfield IMG College)