With all of the bravado and anticipation that surrounds one of the best rivalries in sports, it’s understandable that fans will want to look ahead to Saturday’s matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels, but both squads have games ahead of THE game that they’re focused on.
Duke will take on in-state foe Wake Forest Tuesday night, who defeated the Blue Devils 81-70 on December 12th.
“It’s all about Wake Forest,” Jon Scheyer said when asked about Saturday’s game during Monday’s ACC coaches’ call. “I talked to the team about it yesterday. I’ll talk about that game once we get there. They beat us. They’re a heck of a team. This is a really important game and that’s where my head is at.”
The Blue Devils have struggled away from Cameron Indoor, where they’re perfect on the season. December’s loss to the Demon Deacons was one of four Duke has suffered away from Durham. The matchup ahead of THE matchup can be viewed as a trap game, but Tuesday’s contest is anything but; an in-state rival that is more experienced and has already defeated the Blue Devils. Duke will have to play well to maintain their perfect home-game record…and they know it.
- Duke returns to Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first of two in-state rivalry games, hosting Wake Forest as part of ESPN’s Super Tuesday slate.
- The game caps a grueling month of January that saw the young Blue Devils play five road games in the span of 24 days. Six of Duke’s final 10 games this season come at home.
- Duke is coming off an 86-43 win at Georgia Tech Saturday — the second-largest ACC road win in school history and the second fewest points allowed by Duke all-time in an ACC road game.
- Freshman Kyle Filipowski, staking his claim as the ACC Rookie of the Year, leads all conference freshmen in scoring, rebounding and double-doubles. He has 10 doubles-doubles, including a monster current five-game stretch averaging 22.0 points and 12.0 boards.
- This week’s ACC Rookie of the Week for the seventh time, Filipowski is the only freshman nationally averaging at least 15 points and nine rebounds this season.
- Freshman guard Tyrese Proctor is coming off a seven-point, eight-assist and no turnover game at Georgia Tech and is now fifth in the ACC in conference play with a 2.83 assist/turnover ratio. He is averaging 11.8 points and a 4.6 assist/turnover ratio over the last five.
- Freshman Dereck Lively II is second in the ACC and 38th nationally with 1.9 blocked shots. He has eight blocks and both of his career-high 10-rebound games over the last three.
- Duke has out-rebounded 17 of its first 21 opponents and is 14-3 this season when holding an advantage on the glass. Duke is 12-3 when leading in offensive rebounding.
- The ACC’s best rebounding team, Duke ranks fourth nationally in rebound margin (+9.1), ninth in offensive rebounds (13.6) and 13th in rebounds per game (39.7) — leading the conference in each category. Duke has not finished as the ACC’s team leader in rebounds since 1998-99.
- Duke and Tennessee are the only teams ranked inside the NCAA’s top 15 for each rebound margin, offensive rebounds and total rebounds.
- Duke has held 18 of 21 teams below their season scoring average, ranking second in the ACC and 30th nationally in scoring defense (63.2). Georgia Tech was the most recent of eight teams this season to post a then season-low in points versus the Blue Devils.
Tuesday night’s matchup will tip-off at 7pm and will be televised on ESPN.