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Preview: Three keys to a UNC men's basketball victory over Duke in Cameron Indoor

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UNC sophomore guard Caleb Love (2) drives past a Duke opponent during a UNC men's basketball game against Duke in the Dean Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Duke won 87-67.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team will face Duke for the first time this season on Saturday, Feb. 4 at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Tar Heels carry a two-game winning streak against the Blue Devils.

Duke is 11-0 at home so far this year, boasting wins against then-No. 25 Ohio State and then-No. 17 Miami. UNC, on the other hand, has struggled away from home this season, entering this matchup with a 2-4 away record, with its two true road victories coming against Louisville and Syracuse.

Here are three key elements UNC needs to focus on in order to leave Durham with a win:

Contain Kyle Filipowski

First-year center Kyle Filipowski has been a standout for the Blue Devils this season, as he leads Duke in points and rebounds per game with 15.8 and 9.5, respectively. 

Filipowski is a versatile player. He can drive to the basket off of high ball screens, is a threat from the perimeter and is strong on the offensive and defensive glass. He also leads all first-years in double-doubles this season with 11 total.

Filipowski will have a tough test waiting for him in Armando Bacot. UNC's senior center will look to contain Filipowski on the boards and limit second chance opportunities for the Blue Devils.

Although Bacot stands as a tough test on the boards, graduate forward Leaky Black may switch to – or even start the game – defending Filipowski. Black is a lengthy and versatile defender standing at 6-foot-9 and would be a good size matchup for the 7-foot Filipowski. 

Get the bench involved

UNC has turned to the bench at limited times this season, but in the games against N.C. State and Syracuse, each member of the starting five – excluding Black, who was ejected against the Wolfpack for a flagrant two foul – has played over 30 minutes in each game.

Sophomore guard D’Marco Dunn filled in for Black against N.C. State and played 18 minutes, six more than the rest of the bench combined. Dunn didn’t score a basket, though, and the lone bench point came from first-year forward Jalen Washington. 

Key minutes off the bench from first-year guards Seth Trimble and Tyler Nickel, as well as contributions from Dunn, Washington and junior wing Puff Johnson – who looks to return following knee soreness – will likely need to provide a spark and take some of the load off the starting five.

Guard play

Junior guard Caleb Love is no stranger to the Blue Devils, and although he has been in somewhat of a shooting slump, he may have just found his shot against Syracuse by scoring 15 points on 4-7 shooting from the field and 3-5 from behind the arc.

Last year against Duke, Love scored 22 points at Cameron Indoor and led the Tar Heels to a 94-81 victory. He continued to have the hot hand against Duke in the Final Four, dropping 28 points on 11-20 shooting to help UNC advance to the national title game.

This season, however, junior guard RJ Davis has been the more consistent scorer in the Tar Heels' backcourt. Davis is a great midrange shooter that can also hit threes and drive to the basket, and could pose a big threat to the Blue Devils. 

If one of the guards can get early shots to fall while also facilitating the offense, the tandem could wreak havoc on the Blue Devils and help the Tar Heels add a solid road win to its resume.

@mdmaynard74

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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