Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs the North Carolina Tar Heels

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March 9, 6:00PM
Dean Smith Center
ESPN

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The Series:

Overall: 250th meeting; North Carolina leads, 138-111
In Durham: Duke leads, 54-49
In Chapel Hill: UNC leads, 62-36 (UNC, 18-15 at Smith Center)
At neutral sites: North Carolina leads, 27-21
Current streak: North Carolina, W2
Coach K vs. North Carolina: 46-43

Media Info:

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Jay Bilas/Maria Taylor)
Internet: WatchESPN 
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network (David Shumate/John Roth) National Radio: Compass Media (Gregg Daniels/ Rick Mahorn) Sirius/XM: 81 / 81 (Duke broadcast)

Duke and Carolina meet for the second time this season. In game one the Tar Heels  spanked the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium 88-72. Duke, playing sans Zion Williamson who went out in the first 30 seconds of the game, had no answer for the Tar Heels who shot over 50% from the field. Currently UNC is tied for the lead in the ACC standings along with UVA. Duke is a game out. UNC is currently on a 6 game winning streak and playing their best basketball of the season. Conversely, the Blue Devils have struggled without freshman star Zion Williamson who at the time of this post is doubtful for Saturday's game in Chapel Hill. Williamson has missed 5 games so far for the Blue Devils.

The Tar Heels are led in scoring by Cameron Johnson who scores 16.9 per game and Coby White with 16.2 points per game - White also leads the team in assists with 4.1 per game. Senior forward Luke Maye leads the team in rebounds at 10.3 per game and scores 14.9 points per game. The Blue Devils are led in scoring by freshman R.J. Barrett who scores at a 23.3 points per game clip. Barrett is also averaging 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Zion Williamson who is questionable for the game is averaging 21.6 points per game and 8.8 rebounds. Tre Jones is the lead assist man for the Blue Devils, averaging 5.2 assists per game and 8.7 points. Cam Reddish averages 15 points per game for the Blue Devils as well.

Keys for the Blue Devils:

What Duke cannot do is have Tre Jones, Alex O'Connell, Jack White, Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier and Jordan Goldwire go 4-27 from the field. The Blue Devil need either a consistent 3rd scorer or for someone not named R.J. Barrett or Cam Reddish to step up. A lot was made about points in the paint for UNC, if Duke is consistently scoring and UNC is not hitting 3 point shots Duke can live with 2 point buckets - but for that to work Duke has to make Carolina take tougher 2's and they have to keep pace offensively. Duke cannot allow UNC to shoot 65% from 2 point range as they did in game 1. The Blue Devils also have to be much stronger with the basketball. Duke committed 20 turnovers in game 1 which accounted for a 19 to 11 advantage in points off of turnovers and a 14 to 8 advantage in fast break points. 9 of Duke's 20 turnovers were committed by Barrett & Reddish. 

Duke's transition defense was non-existent and they did not handle the pace that UNC plays offensively. Certainly not having Zion Williamson changes who this Duke team is and what this Duke team does at some point it ceases to be a legitimate excuse and guys have to step up. 

HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI


On adjustments with Zion out:
"That's something I've tried to deal with. You can't do a wholesale change on your team when we feel he will be back. He wants to be back. All that conjecture ... we didn't believe any of that. We believe him. You change somewhat but you can't do a wholesale change if you know the guy is coming back because we have to be ready when he comes back to be who we were when he was with us. In saying that, we also don't have much practice time with the schedule at this time of year. Even if you're healthy, practices for really good programs are so short this time of year ... less than an hour, maybe 45 minutes. You hear people say ‘you should put in this and that' ... you should keep quiet, really. You should talk about something you know about. Put it in the context of when you're doing it. You're not going to bury your guys. It's a juggling act. Overall, it's been good. Our guys have done a good job with it. My staff has done a good job."


On Zion handling the injury:
"Great ... not good. Zion is terrific. You've seen it in the locker room and everywhere ... he's so upbeat. He's so team oriented and I think it bothers him that he hasn't been with us but we can't let him push the process too much where his loyalty to the team goes against the way he comes back the way he should. Yesterday was a big day for him because he didn't think before he moved. He would do something and say, ‘oh yeah, I remember my body can do that'. It was uplifting for the guys too but we have to make sure. We'll know more after today and then we'll have our shoot around in the morning so it'll probably be out around 11."


On Rasheed Wallace being named the head boys basketball coach at E. Jordan High School:
"Rasheed is a great guy. He's a pros pro. I know him and he's a top-notch guy. I just saw that and it brought a smile to my face for one that he would do that and how lucky are they."


On how Duke landed Jordan Goldwire:
"It was late recruiting ... He's from Norcross, who has produced a number of outstanding college players. He's played with talent. He's good, but he's played with talent. In this last month, he's taken a step of maturity in understanding how important his role could be instead of trying to do everything and be frustrated. He concentrates on what he does well. He was a huge part in two of our wins, obviously at Louisville but against Wake. He came in and gave Tre [Jones] some time off of Childress and the two of them together played. This morning, he and Alex [O'Connell] were in the practice facility shooting for over an hour. He's putting time in. If you invest in something, it means more. Whether it's your money or your time ... it means more. When you're doing that thing, you'll do it at a level that's deeper because of that investment. I'm proud of him."


On Joey Baker's play:
"The thing with Joey is it helped the other guys, too. Where all of a sudden, there's another guy ... maybe you pick it up a little bit because there is someone who is good. He's helped us. Whether he gets on the court or not, he's helping us because he's in a different mindset and he brings a different mindset and competitiveness to a practice that has helped us. Joey has been important for us. Isn't it interesting that when Alex (O'Connell) really stepped forward, was when Joey was activated, so to speak. He's benefitted us greatly because he's a great kid."


On RJ Barrett as a player when he was being recruited:
"By the way, congratulations to his dad. Rowan was just named the General Manager for Canada. He was the assistant. When Steve [Nash] was here, it was completed at that time. Congratulations to him. We knew it right away. He's not a kid, he's a winner ... he's a fighter. Even at the end of the game, that's who we went to because we were having a hard time scoring. Although he missed free throws, which kills him, even at the end he makes the bucket that wins. And he did it right handed ... talk about a play. Somehow his will to score at that point was good. We've known that from the very beginning and it's what sets him apart. It's that and what Zion does. They understand how special they are and how much they bring out from each other. It's been an incredible friendship and I'd like to see it on the court here soon. When they're on the court it's very, very good. And for basketball. I'm sure a lot of people miss seeing Zion ... maybe not our opponents but I know I miss him."

JUNIOR CENTER MARQUES BOLDEN

On his health:
"It was my hip [against Wake Forest], but I’m feeling fine."


On protecting the paint against North Carolina:
"It represents a big challenge. That's how they scored the majority of their points the last time we played them. We got together and were able to watch a lot of film and try to correct our mistakes for this game."


On watching film from the last game:
"It's frustrating because you know what you’re capable of. When you watch film like that and see guys scoring, basically at will in the paint like they did last game, it frustrates you. We got together, watched a lot of film and we're going to try and correct those mistakes for tomorrow."


On what a win at North Carolina would mean:
"It's a special game. It would mean a lot. I’ve never won over there. I've only played there twice, but that’s still saying a lot with this big rivalry that we’re in. It would mean a lot for us to go out and win. The environment and intensity that we’re going to be in tomorrow is like no other. Obviously with the rivalry we have, the energy is always different when we walk into that building."


On the impact of Zion Williamson returning to practice:
"The demeanor and the talk. The noise in the gym is much louder during practice times. We’re just all excited to see him back on his feet and getting ready to go. The noise is something we kind of generate as a team. It’s not necessarily him personally, but us as a whole."


On the impact of Tre Jones' defense:
"He makes it a lot easier for us with the ball pressure he puts on the guards. It makes them have to force tough passes. He generates a lot of turnovers and gets a lot of steals up at the top. I’m grateful to have a point guard who plays defense like Tre."


On preventing North Carolina's fast break:
"Their fast break and transition points they generate was another point of emphasis that we tried to focus on. Make or miss, the ball is flying down the court. For us to try and get back and find our man is key."


On what's impressed him about RJ Barrett’s recent production:
"The way he is able to do more. He has already had an impressive freshman season. Obviously with Zion being out and him being able to do more than he already had, with the experience he has, very little, is really impressive to see him picking up a lot more slack."


On how much he'd seen RJ Barrett play before he arrived on campus:
"I really didn't. I saw just the class under me. I really didn’t even get to see that much of RJ before he stepped on campus. I obviously knew who Zion was. I knew he was an aggressive scorer. The way he’s able to score the ball on all three levels – in the paint, midrange and, obviously, from the three-point line – is the thing that has shocked me the most. He's been aggressive from day one. That's just who he is and the type of player he is. That’s who I want on my team."


On lessons learned from the Wake Forest game:
"Just to come prepared. Obviously that was a tough team we played against Tuesday night in Wake Forest. For us to come out ready to play our basketball from the jump [is important]. I wouldn’t call it a 'wake-up call.' We just have to be prepared for anything. Obviously, with Zion being hurt and Tre going down, was crazy. Anything can happen in those 40 minutes we’re playing."


FRESHMAN FORWARD RJ BARRETT

On playing North Carolina for the second time and it being a top-five matchup:
"We’ve had a lot of big games over the course of the year. We've played them before so we kind of know what to expect now. This is going to be another big game and a lot of fun. It’s a great rivalry – very historic. Going there is probably going to be unlike any other place that we’ll play in terms of everybody being against us. Those are the moments you live for. It’s our last conference game. We definitely want to go get a win. They beat us last time so we’d love to come back and take it to them. To get a win on their home floor would be great."


On what he’s learned about his game during Zion Williamson's absence:
"Not really anything new. I kind of always knew what I could do. With him out, it's just a little more attention because he's not playing. I always knew what I could do. I am trying to play the game, play as a unit and win games."


On Zion Williamson returning to practice:
"Having him back and practicing a little bit was great. Seeing him on the court again definitely gave us some energy.”


On slowing down North Carolina’s offense:
"We have to protect our paint. They scored around 62 points in the paint last time. They can also shoot. We have to try and be prepared for both of those things."


On lessons learned from his father:
"He told me to always be aggressive, no matter if you’re not playing well or making mistakes out there, continue to be aggressive. But also be smart. If you’re just aggressive without thinking, that’s not going to end up good."

DUKE 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
30.9%
North Carolina 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
37.3%
DUKE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
48%
North Carolina SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
46.8%
DUKE FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
68.9%
North Carolina FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
74.5%
Duke PPG
84.6
North Carolina PPG
84.2

Duke Probable Starters

  • G Tre Jones 6'2, 183lbs
  • G Alex O'Connell 6'6, 183lbs
  • F R.J. Barrett 6'7, 202lbs
  • F Cam Reddish 6'8, 218lbs
  • C Marques Bolden 6'11, 250lbs

North Carolina Probable Starters

  • G Coby White, 6'5, 185lbs
  • G Kenny Williams, 6'4, 185lbs
  • G Cameron Johnson, 6'9, 210lbs
  • F Luke Maye, 6'8, 240lbs
  • F Garrison Brooks, 6'9, 230lbs

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