Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs the North Carolina Tar Heels

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February 20, 9:00PM
Cameron Indoor Stadium
ESPN

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The Series:

Overall: 249th meeting; UNC leads, 137-111
In Durham: Duke leads, 54-48
In Chapel Hill: UNC leads, 62-36
At neutral sites: UNC leads, 27-21
Current streak: UNC, W1
Coach K vs. North Carolina: 46-42

Media Info:

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Jay Bilas/Maria Taylor)
Internet: WatchESPN
TV: Raycom (Tim Brando/Mike Gminski)
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network (David Shumate/John Roth)
National Radio: Westwood One (John Sadak/Will Perdue)
Sirius/XM: 84 / 84 (Duke broadcast)

HEAD COACH MIKE KRZYZEWSKI

Opening Statement
“We are in good health. We have one of our walk-ons who has had that flu – (Mike) Buckmire -- that RJ (Barrett), Antonio (Vrankovic) and Marques (Bolden) have had. But other than some bumps and bruises we’re good.”

On Carolina’s ability to rebound the ball well and countering that:
“You have to go for the ball. They’re terrific. They have three seniors on their team who have been through it and a couple of juniors in their rotation of eight. They have been through the wars and have won most of them and historically they have been outstanding and we just have to try and counter that. There is no set strategy, when the ball is up there, go and get it.”

On Colby White and his impact for UNC:
“He has played great for them. A key for them throughout the years, the decades really, with Carolina Basketball has been the advancement of the ball offensively after makes, misses or turnovers and it’s been as good as an advancement as any. You need a guy who can advance it, and he does it as fast as anybody that we have played against at Carolina. He does it in a way because he is a scorer, and after he advances it, if you lose him, he’s an outstanding shooter. So he has been one of the best players in the league, and in the country really, and he’s the real deal.”

On Joey Baker and his growth and role on the team:
“He’s come every day and been on the scout team, has been on a different weight training program, and has made the most of his year. He has been right in with this group, instead of just saying I am going to wait my turn. He’s a player, and so when he responds that way and Tre (Jones) or one of the guys sees that, it’s one of his teammates and they are in the moment with them instead of reacting to the moment. That’s a cool thing for a kid to be able to do that when he’s not playing.”

Thoughts on Cam Johnson:
“Sensational. He reminds me a little bit of Klay Thompson in that he doesn’t need to dribble. Against Wake, in his seven makes I think he dribbled once and that was in transition. When a guy is ready to shoot that quick and he’s 6’8”, 6’9”, it’s a heck of a weapon. He has had a great, great year, not a good year, but a great year.”

On the rivalry and its history:
“It’s incredibly unique in just the fact that you can have two of the four or five best programs in the history of sport right here. The programs have produced championships and excellence and pros and it’s never really disappointed, they are just great, great games. So to be a part of that as a player or a coach you should be honored to be a part of it and that’s how I feel. This is my 39th year of doing it and the first few years wasn’t as much of an honor but since then it has.”

On the maturity of this group at this stage of the season compared to teams in the past:
“I think they were exposed to different things that the other guys haven’t been. RJ just with all the international experience he’s had and playing up. Tre being exposed to his brother and living where his brother lived and learned and trained with him and Zion has been exposed to so much notoriety before he came here. We’re very unique and that’s helped us tremendously as far as having a little bit more maturity and handling those situations.”

On Javin (DeLaurier) and Jack’s (White) performances and leadership down the stretch:
“I think Javin needs to keep doing what he’s doing. Our big guys had 14 rebounds, nine points, six blocks, four steal. Bolden almost had a double-double (eight-nine). Jack had three buckets and a big block. You add that up and those are important contributions. With Marques (Bolden) too, you kind of expect stuff from the other four guys, but these guys have given us that. Jack played more in the second half against State like he did the first 15 games. Overall he has had a terrific year, but the last month it has been good, not like it was, and Saturday in the second half it was more like he played before which would be a good pick me up for us.”

On Marques’ improving movement on defense and his healthy year:
“It’s the main thing. In other words, he can practice his dance steps every day and he can dance better. He has great feet defensively for a big guy and it’s one of the reasons why he can eventually play professionally because he can do that and he has shown he can do that because he has been healthy. He’s really worked hard at it.”

 

JUNIOR FORWARD JAVIN DELAURIER

On the advice given to players who have not played in this type of game before:
“There is not a whole lot I have to tell them. Obviously that’s a big draw of why kids want to come here and be a part of the Carolina-Duke rivalry. With that being said our guys are excited but we are looking at it as another game in a long season.”

Favorite game in the Carolina rivalry:
“I think the most special one for me since I have been here was last year when we beat them at home. We are down pretty big at halftime and it was an emotional comeback especially with G here for his senior year, so it was a big one for us.”

On this year’s rivalry game being different then past years due to the star power on the team:
“I wouldn’t say so. We are preparing the same as we have every other year. But obviously those guys are excited to play in their first Carolina game just like every freshman is.”

On the excitement for this game being the third year at Duke:
“I wish I could say I was excited now as I was my freshman year but that’s not really the case. Obviously this is a big game for us and every time it’s a bit different but I say that now but once I step onto the court tomorrow it will be a little bit different when all the fans and the energy are in there. I’m not as nervous I guess I would say because I have been here before it being my third year here.” 

 

FRESHMAN FORWARD RJ BARRETT

On the excitement surrounding this rivalry and the day before the big game:
“For sure, I definitely grew up watching this rivalry and especially last year when I knew I was coming here. I was very excited and I couldn’t wait for the day to come so now that it is about to be here I am really excited.”

On what separates this big game compared to the previous big games played this year:
“Now we are in conference and we are going to be at home and this means a lot more for Duke and North Carolina and with everything that’s going on around the program, it means a lot more for us then I guess it would the other games. I know it means a lot for Coach (Krzyzewski) and he’s very prepared so we are going to go out there and fight.

Impression of Colby White and his play:
“I played against him a lot growing up. He is really fast and he can shoot so he’s going to be tough to guard and we’re going to have to figure out a way.”

On what he has learned from Zion being around him this season:
“Being around him, he is a great guy especially off the court. Everybody loves him. Big smile all the time and even if he is not having his best day, no one will ever know and he greets everybody with respect so I like that.”

On past players coming back last game and what it meant:
“There has been moments throughout the season where you can see the real sense of the word brotherhood and that moment was when all the guys game back and showed their support so that was a great feeling.”

 

Duke and Carolina meet for the first time this year with both teams occupying a top 10 spot in the AP Poll. Duke comes in having just regained the number 1 ranking and the Tar Heels sit firmly at the 8 spot. The Blue Devils are riding a 9 game winning streaking the Tar Heels most recently destroyed the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on the road 95-57. Both teams have eclipsed the 20 win mark this season already with Duke having won 23 games and UNC siting at 20 wins so far.

The Tar Heels of UNC are led by a trio of scorers. Cameron Johnson, a graduate transfer, averages 16.3 points per game and is shooting 47.9% from beyond the arc (best on the team). Freshman guard Coby White is possibly the fastest player in Division 1 basketball and is averaging 15.7 points per game but anyone who has witnessed this freshman play knows he can go for 30 in a heartbeat. White also averages 4.3 assists per game. Senior Luke Maye rounds out the double figure scorers for the Tar Heels at 14.5 a game; Maye also averages 9.6 rebounds per game. The Heels start a grad transfer, 2 seniors, a sophomore and a freshman.

The Blue Devils have been led in scoring by R.J. Barrett virtually the entire season. The freshman forward averages 22.7 points per game, he also averages 7.4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Barrett is fresh off of a triple double against N.C. State. Freshmen Zion Williamson in averaging nearly a double-double at 22.4 points and 9.2 rebounds a game. Tre Jones is the high assist man for the Blue Devils at 5.4 per game. Cam Reddish Rounds out the double-figure scorers for the Blue Devils averaging 13.8 per game.

The Keys for Duke:

  • Chasing the Tar Heels off of that 3-point line, the Heels are 21st in the nation in 3 point shooting accuracy. Duke will need to make them into drivers or force them into tough 2 point shots. Duke will also need to choose their shots wisely. It's very easy for this Duke team to fall in love with the 3 point shot but it's not a weapon they wield very effectively by average.

  • Duke will need to defend without fouling, I fully expect UNC to filter their offense towards trying to get Zion Williamson into foul trouble as early as possible. It's up to Zion not to take the bait - not to be timid but to play smart on both his drives to the basket and his closeouts and recoveries defensively. The Heels, I would expect, will double team him and sit on his spin move to force some contact.

  • Rebounding vs Transition Defense. The Heels are the best in the country at coming at you whether they are taking the ball out of the basket, getting a rebound or a turnover. They will push the tempo and try to catch Duke sleeping in transition. As important as offensive rebounding is for Duke ( they are 8th in the nation), getting back in transition is just as important. Duke has been a subpar transition defensive team and UNC has the makings of a team to take advantage of that. Duke has to be judicious in how they attack the glass. It will be interesting to see what K advises his club in regards to rebounding. All 5 on the glass or pull a UVA and get back quickly to prevent the UNC fast break.

  • I fully expect UNC to zone Duke and that means Tre jones will need to be prepared for whatever junk defenses are thrown at Duke, the quicker duke can recognize and take advantage the better and more efficient they can be. Duke has shown both good and bad against the zone this season. While shooting over the zone is great for good shooting teams, the best scenario for the Blue Devils will be to get someone in the center of the zone and play through them.

  • Stealing some bench minutes could be crucial to keep duke starters refreshed. This game takes a ton of energy. Getting minutes from AOC, Goldwire, DeLaurier and White could be a huge difference maker for the Blue Devils. Having a working lead makes it easier to bring in bench guys.
DUKE 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
31.3%
North Carolina 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
38.6%
DUKE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
48.6%
North Carolina SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
47.5%
DUKE FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
68.3%
North Carolina FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
74.2%
Duke PPG
86.4
North Carolina PPG
87.5

Duke Probable Starters

  • G Tre Jones 6'2, 183lbs
  • F R.J. Barrett 6'7, 202lbs
  • F Cam Reddish 6'8, 218lbs
  • F┬áZion Williamson 6'7, 285lbs
  • 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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