After Duke ended the two-week hiatus on Tuesday with a bang against the state of South Carolina, Duke enters an internal battle with the state of Appalachian. Before the game on Thursday, we’ll bring you three keys to the game:
Duke returned to competition this week after a two week hiatus. While the Blue Devils’ last away game against Ohio State ended in a heavy defeat, their return with a 103-62 win over SC State proves that this line-up is not neglected. The team played well all round, shooting an exceptional 22-of-24 on the Charity Stripe, 55.6% from the depths, and achieving a total of 55.9% field goal percentage, while almost every player who saw the stalls scored some points added to the scoreboard.
In their second game since the break, the Blue Devils will face the national enemy Appalachian State. The Mountaineers travel to Durham for their first game of the season. Last season, the Mountaineers only competed against one ranked team – then No. 10 Tennessee – a matchup in which they suffered a 79-38 blow. The squad hasn’t seen a leaderboard competition this year, so Duke is the first real test for reigning Sun Belt champions how they can hold their own against a powerhouse. However, given Duke’s Tuesday night performance and Appalachian State’s mediocre 6-5 start, you can expect further Blue Devil dominance when the team puts on the same show as the Bulldogs.
While fans know this team is not invincible, a game against the Mountaineers shouldn’t be a problem for Duke. Appalachian State doesn’t have a particular advantage they are known for and will likely play the copycat game on Thursday night. And although Duke briefly lost his PhD student Theo John to a back injury, her starter five and her impressively deep bench are flying as ready as ever. Plus, with yet another win against South Carolina State, the Blue Devils are as charged and ready as they can be to vigorously fight for the rest of their season.
Grab the rebound
One of the places that will be of great concern in this match is the climbers’ success in ricocheting. Appalachian State is just behind Duke’s 39.0 per game with 37.3 rebounds per game. Even in losing games, the group remained competitive and recorded more rebounds than the opponents they defeated.
A performance like their win over South Carolina State meant that the opponent managed more rebounds than the Blue Devils instrumentally. Mountaineering Guardians Adrian Delph and James Lewis Jr. will be aggressive against the glass, leaving it to Duke’s line-up to be the first to get there. As long as Duke can prevent Appalachian State rebounds and do a pinpoint job of receiving the ball, his opposition won’t even hold a candle to the Blue Devils roster.
While this App State team may not have anything to do with McDonald’s All Americans, they have one thing very special to offer: depth. Groups of this caliber usually invoke a little ball game against competition like Duke because they need to use their best players as best they can to stay competitive. Appalachian State plays differently than the norm, however. Almost every player on the team has seen a ton of game time this year, with 11 players averaging double-digit minutes per game.
Though the Mountaineers’ top players play the course the most, Duke can’t be too comfortable on defense, even if head coach Dustin Kerns empties the bench. Almost every player who sees the playing time contributes something to the game – be it by defending, building up the game, rebounding or goals. The Blue Devils are the clear favorite at the game, but in order for them to play their best version possible they can’t underestimate what the Mountaineers list brings to the table.
Get overtime, all Duke Athletics
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Ana Young is a freshman Trinity student and a reporter for the news and sports departments.