No. 2 Duke rides hot shooting into No. 16 Louisville
Duke can be tough enough to defend without adding precision perimeter shooting to the arsenal.
But that's what the second-ranked Blue Devils put on display in their most-recent game, giving No. 16 Louisville something else to think about when the teams meet Tuesday night at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
"The task is already hard enough," Louisville coach Chris Mack said. "You have to figure out what's important (in devising a game plan)."
Duke (21-2, 9-1 ACC) has delivered two losses to fourth-ranked Virginia, including Saturday night's 81-71 road decision, when half of its 26 field goals were from 3-point range.
That snapped a trend of some suspect perimeter shooting from the Blue Devils.
ACC scoring leader RJ Barrett, a freshman forward, led the way with a season-high six 3-pointers among his 26 points.
"We had to hit 3s and that's what we did," Barrett said. "It's a good feeling. Everyone loves making a shot."
The task in stopping Duke already includes trying to keep Barrett and freshman sensation Zion Williamson out of the lane.
"Teams think because of our percentages that we are not able to knock down the shot," Duke guard Tre Jones said. "But when we are shooting open 3s off good passes and off good offense, I feel like our percentages go up."
Duke shot only 29.0 percent on 3-pointers in its first nine league games. Then came the 13-for-21 accuracy in the Virginia game. That 61.9 percent rate on 3s was Duke's best performance in a road game since a February 2013 outing at Virginia Tech (70.6 percent).
Hitting shots early in the game bolstered the Blue Devils' confidence.
"That just means we are going to have a good night and we just need to finish it off with our defense," Barrett said.
Still, Mack said some of the priorities for his defense will be to "make them do their damage on offense over us rather than around us."
Mack said also he's concerned about what Duke does defensively. He said the Cardinals were too sloppy on offense down the stretch in Saturday's game at Florida State, which won 80-75 in overtime.
"You have to have amnesia when you play in this league, not worry about what happened and focus on the next game ahead," Mack said. "The challenges can become great. I have no doubt that my group will come back to work and ready to go. We're going to need to, because we have to play the best team in the country."
Louisville (17-7, 8-3) has lost two of its past three games. The Duke game will be the Cardinals' fourth consecutive matchup against a ranked opponent.
Duke has won seven consecutive games. The Blue Devils' 9-1 ACC record is their best 10-game mark in league play in eight years.
This will be the only Duke-Louisville meeting of the regular season.
--Field Level MediaHome