Duke was able to win its first game with ease against Davidson, but things get much tougher Tuesday when they face Kansas in the State Farm Champions Classic.
This two-game event, which takes place at the United Center in Chicago, features four of the top five squads in the country. A win on this stage would be a huge boost to Duke's resume that will stay there for the rest of the season.
Of course, this will not be easy. The Jayhawks are as talented as any team in the nation, and the Blue Devils will have their hands full throughout the game. If they want to earn a win, they must follow these keys to victory.
Win the Rebounding Battle
One area where Duke struggled in its first game is on the boards. The squad was outrebounded by Davidson 31-27, which is incredible considering the Blue Devils only missed 16 shots from the floor.
However, the Wildcats were able to get in better position on both ends of the court and outworked their opponent for rebounds.
This could be a problem all year long with a relatively undersized frontcourt. Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker can handle their positions, but Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston failed to get a single rebound in 21 combined minutes.
As the de facto centers on this squad, this could be a weakness that will need to be improved upon.
On the other side, Kansas are solid up front with Tarik Black, Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid. Duke will have to step up on missed shots, or else these players will get rebounds and put backs all day long.
Ball Movement Around Perimeter
One of the Blue Devils' trademarks over the years has been their offensive versatility with the ability to hit shots from the outside. At any time, four or five players on the court are capable of making a three-point shot.
Duke has to take advantage of this against an athletic opponent that is very good defensively. While Parker and Hood might be the focal points on the offense, they have to make sure not to be selfish in this game.
The two forwards must be willing to pass the ball to Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton, any of whom are capable of hitting an open three. Even though Kansas is capable of closing quickly, it is near impossible to guard everyone.
This will then spread the floor even more for the team to make plays inside late in the game.
Key on Andrew Wiggins
Kansas has a number of quality scorers, but there is one player on the court who fans and scouts will be watching more than anyone else: Andrew Wiggins.
The No. 1 recruit in the country led the Jayhawks with 16 points in his debut while making five of his nine shots from the floor. In a big game like this, you can see him taking a lot more field goal attempts.
Of course, it is not just the talent, which can be seen anywhere on the court for the team. The biggest part of Wiggins' game this season will be his ability to create his own shot out of nothing. Outside of maybe Naadir Tharpe, the rest of the squad has trouble in this area.
Fortunately, Duke has the length and athleticism to slow the wing down. Either Hood or Parker will try to stay in front of him and will likely force him to try to shoot over tall defenders.
As long as the Blue Devils can keep Wiggins away from the basket, they have a chance to limit his production in this game.
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