After consecutive early-season road losses to unranked Arkansas and Georgia Tech, the Duke men’s basketball team has found its stride and is firmly fixed in the national conversation.
Here’s a look at how Jon Scheyer’s squad stacks up ahead of the first Tobacco Road showdown on Feb. 3. It’s report card time.
When scouting the Blue Devils, the report starts and ends with star big man Kyle Filipowski. The sophomore 7-footer leads Duke in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.5 points and 8.7 boards per contest. His unique skill set and size makes him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenders. Filipowski can both score at a high level inside and out — he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and nearly 48 percent from three — and block shots at a significant clip on the other end. Add it all up, and he is rated the eighth-best player in the country by EvanMiya.
Playing alongside Filipowski is sophomore forward Mark Mitchell. A slasher who can get to the rim and score inside, Mitchell was named to the preseason watch list for the Julius Erving Award, which is awarded to the nation's best small forward. Mitchell is currently averaging 12.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
The Blue Devils' starting backcourt consists of senior Jeremy Roach and sophomore Tyrese Proctor. Roach brings a wealth of experience to the floor, having played in over 100 games for the Blue Devils, including seven against the Tar Heels. But it isn’t just experience and leadership he offers, it’s production too. Roach can hurt defenses with dribble penetration and from beyond the arc — he averages 13.9 points per game and is shooting over 45 percent from long range. A bigger guard, Proctor will share ball-handling duties with Roach and is an adept passer, averaging a team-best UPDATE ME 3.9 assists per game.
Talented first-year Jared McCain tends to play more off the ball but still carries a significant scoring threat. McCain scored 21 points and nailed two clutch threes in a top-10 win over Baylor. The grade would be higher, but the Blue Devils’ guards have struggled with consistency at times and don’t have a star at Filipowski's level.