Duke Beat: The Rematch

First, let me say I’m really not a fan of having played a team (or teams) twice before you’ve even faced your arch rival once. I know scheduling can’t be perfect, but Duke will have played Wake Forest and NC State before they have played UNC once (and they play Maryland for a second time the game after UNC). Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to the rematch with NC State.

The first time these two teams faced off, it was the first game Duke played without Ryan Kelly. Early on they looked good, but as the game wore on (and foul trouble started to mount) you could tell the team just was not the same without him. Duke managed to keep it under single digits without Kelly the entire game, Seth Curry the final 4 minutes, and Amile Jefferson fouling out. Honestly, I thought it was a good showing for Duke all things considered.

This time around, NC State may be without their starting PG in Lorenzo Brown, who has been battling a sprained ankle. Without him, they lost two close games they could’ve just as easily won against Virginia and Miami. They would seem to be better prepared to fill his role with Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis than Duke has been in trying to replace Ryan Kelly. One could argue the one or two players State cannot afford to lose is Richard Howell or CJ Leslie because of the matchup problems they create. State is a better team with Brown at the point, but they do have two players who can help in his absence, whereas I don’t believe they have the players to help fill a void left by Howell or Leslie (TJ Warren, in my opinion, is a starter that makes the team even more dangerous).

Duke could also be without Josh Hairston for the game as he apparently has an infection from a cut he received during the Wake Forest game. It could be potentially a huge loss for Duke as Hairston does provide another body to bang with Howell and Leslie and provides fouls as well. That could help keep Amile Jefferson out of foul trouble and on the court. Amile played fairly well in his first matchup, but I’ve seen him improve greatly since that game and think he should be better prepared for the rematch. If Hairston can’t go, then expect to see more of Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee. We’re still waiting to see Murphy break out and earn regular minutes in the lineup. No better time to do that than against State.

I think the key for the matchup will be Duke’s pressure against the freshmen point guards (assuming Brown doesn’t play). If they can rattle Purvis and Lewis then I think Duke controls the tempo of the game and keeps State from establishing any kind of rhythm on offense. The other key will be for Duke to contain Howell and Leslie, as well as staying out of foul trouble. If you can keep them, combined, to 30 points and 15 rebounds, then I believe Duke wins this one by double figures.

 

Chris Summerville is originally from Indian Trail, NC and currently resides in Monroe, NC.  He has been a lifetime Duke fan and knows exactly what he was doing when Christian Laettner crushed the hopes and dreams (and Aminu Timberlakes intestines) of Kentucky fans.  Chris graduated from UNC Asheville in 2003 with a degree in Multimedia Arts & Sciences.  By day he is Creative Director for one of the major billiard companies in the US.  By night he prowls the interwebs as the Duke of Hoops.  Chris can often be found on Twitter arguing with UNC fans.

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