Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs the Pitt Panthers

Brian HoraceGame Previews, PreviewsLeave a Comment

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January 22, 9:00PM
Petersen Events Center (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
ESPN

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Rome wasn't built in a day but not enough can be said about the job that former Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel's job at rebuilding the Pittsburgh mens basketball program. While 2-3 doesn't sound like a remarkable recovery, when you consider the ACC win total from just one year ago it's been pretty great. The fan base seems to have been energized and while far from an ACC powerhouse, Pitt is poised to take a few steps forward. Capel even came within a bucket of getting his first win against a ranked opponent, losing to Iowa by just 1 point.

The Panthers are led by freshman guard Xavier Johnson, who averages 17.1 points per game and is also the high assist man at 4.6 per. Another freshman, Au'Diese Toney, leads the team in rebounding at 6.2 from the guard spot. The Panthers starts 3 freshmen, 1 junior and a sophomore. The Panthers are run a guard heavy lineup and are a very quick team with Trey McGowens on the floor. The Panthers lead the ACC in getting to the line and McGowens and Johnson are huge pieces of why that is so. Whereas against UVA the size that Duke put on the floor created matchup issues in Dukes favor, it will be interesting to see how R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson matchup against the smaller Panther lineup. Putting Marques Bolden in tough situations guarding smaller players off of switches was a good recipe for UVA to exploit at times. The Panthers are sure to use some of that thinking to draw fouls and get to the line - a recipe that has served them well this year so far.

The Blue Devils are led by a freshman duo of R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson. Barrett leads the team in scoring at 23.8 per game, Barrett also averages 4.1 assists per contest. Williamson comes in as Duke's leading rebounder at 9.4 a game, he averages 21.5 points per game and 2.2 assists. Duke will be without leading assist man Tre Jones who is sidelined with a shoulder separation. Jones leads the team with 5.7 assists per game and will be missing his second straight game for the Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils will need to work hard to avoid getting beat on straight line drives and dribble penetration. Pitt has the guard talent to put the Devils in precarious situations. The Duke bigs will probably need to be subbed out regularly to avoid foul trouble and if the Blue Devils can get minutes from Jordan Goldwire and Alex O'Connell it will go a long way toward mitigating some of the advantages the Panthers do have.

The Series So Far:

Overall: 19th meeting; Duke leads, 11-7
In Durham: Duke leads, 5-3
In Pittsburgh: Duke leads, 5-3
At neutral sites: Tied, 1-1
Current streak: Duke, W3
Coach K vs. Pitt: 5-2 (5-2 at Duke)

Media Info:

TV: ESPN (Rece Davis/LaPhonso Ellis/Brooke Weisbrod)
WatchESPN: Internet
Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network (David Shumate/John Roth)
National Radio: n/a
Sirius/XM: 84 / 84 (Duke broadcast)

DUKE 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
28.3%
Pitt 3PT SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
33.8%
DUKE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
48.9%
Pitt SHOOTING PERCENTAGE
44%
DUKE FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
67%
Pitt FREE THROW PERCENTAGE
72.1%
Duke PPG
89.2
Pitt PPG
76.3

Duke Probable Starters

  • F R.J. Barrett 6'7, 202lbs
  • F Cam Reddish 6'8, 218lbs
  • F Zion Williamson 6'7, 285lbs
  • F Jack White 6'7, 222lbs
  • C Javin DeLaurier 6'10, 234lbs

Pitt Probable Starters

  • G Xavier Johnson 6'3, 190lbs
  • G Au'Diese Toney 6'6, 210lbs
  • G Malik Ellison 6'6, 200lbs
  • G Trey McGowens 6'3, 185lbs
  • F Terrell Brown 6'10, 240lbs

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