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Next Up: NC State

An ancient rivalry renewed

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Louisville
Jan 23, 2021; Louisville, KY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) passes the ball away from Louisville Cardinals center Dre Davis (14) during a NCAA basketball game at the KFC Yum! Center.
Courier Journal-USA TODAY Sports

Duke heads to Raleigh Saturday with a highly unusual four-game losing streak and in need of a win.

State isn’t all that much better off: after starting 6-1 and with a pressing defense that had people talking, the Pack hit a rough patch, losing four straight.

  • Date: 2/13
  • Time: 4:00
  • Venue: PNC Arena
  • Video: ESPN

And of course State lost leading scorer and leader Devon Daniels for the season after an ACL injury and is now 8-8 and below Duke in ACC play at 4-7 and is 1-3 since Daniels was injured.

So really, both teams seriously need a win.

In its last outing, against Syracuse, State started 6-11 sophomore Manny Bates, 6-7 junior Jericole Hellems, 6-3 freshman Cam Hayes, 6-0 senior Braxton Beverly and 6-1 junior Thomas Allen.

DJ Funderburk, a 6-10 senior, Shakeel Moore, a 6-1 freshman and Dereon Seabron, a 6-7 freshman, were the reserves.

State’s main problems, aside from missing Daniels, is an erratic offense and a defense that’s surprisingly weak.

Bates is a solid presence defensively but not as good on offense. Hellems can score at times but probably not as reliably as Kevin Keatts would like. Hayes is going to be a lot better than he is but right now he’s still a freshman and Duke fans know how that can be.

Of the regulars, only big men Bates and Funderburk are hitting over 55 percent at 63 percent and 57.8 percent respectively.

State has been one of the better scoring teams though, perhaps because it forces a lot of turnovers for easy baskets.

Duke has been doing a much better job of taking care of the ball lately but its defense is still lagging.

However, Duke has the athleticism to match up with State. Mark Williams has a similar skill set to that of Bates but he’s probably a better all-round talent although Bates is more physically mature. Duke should be able to guard Braxton Beverly and has the talent to match up with the rest of State’s roster. But defense has been a real problem collectively for the Blue Devils.

If Duke goes man-to-man, they match up well but might give up some penetration. And if they go zone, State may have trouble shooting over it as they did against Syracuse.

The young Blue Devils have shown fight in the last couple of games and have definitely improved. But Raleigh has been a very tough place to play the last few seasons. State loves to beat UNC and Duke when it can and getting the two Triangle rivals at home is their best shot at that.

So Duke will get State’s best shot and will have to play at a high level to earn this win.

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