After defeating Boston College Saturday, Duke men’s basketball looks to round out its three-game home stand with a win against Wake Forest Monday. The Blue Zone brings you a key player from each side:
Duke: Kyle Filipowski
After a rough few games, Kyle Filipowski will look to reassert himself as one of the nation’s best players. Through his last five contests, the sophomore center has connected on just 3-of-15 3-point attempts, has shot a subpar 50% from the free-throw line and has averaged 3.8 fouls a game.
Foul trouble in particular has limited the star big man’s minutes. Against Clemson Jan. 27, Filipowski was held to 24 minutes and fouled out for just the third time in his career. In the Blue Devils’ contest against Notre Dame Wednesday, he only scored eight points on 2-of-9 shooting, recording a mere 21 minutes thanks to racking up four fouls.
Duke hasn’t exactly faltered when Filipowski has done less from a scoring perspective; the Blue Devils are 4-0 this season when the Westtown, N.Y., native scores under 10 points. However, signs point to the preseason All-American needing a strong night in order for them to best their in-state rival. Wake Forest is right on Duke’s heels in the ACC while averaging the most points per game in the conference. In order to counteract the Demon Deacons’ offensive attack, Filipowski must assert himself on offense while limiting fouls taken.
Wake Forest: Hunter Sallis
While the Blue Devils are statistically the better of the two teams, Wake Forest will not go down without a fight. Their leading scorer, Gonzaga transfer Hunter Sallis, has given head coach Steve Forbes’ squad new life, and could prove troublesome for Duke.
During his first two collegiate seasons as a Bulldog, Sallis played sparingly, averaging just 15.3 minutes and 4.4 points per game while recording zero starts. However, a change of scenery has done well for the Omaha, Neb., native, as he has averaged 18.5 points and 4.0 rebounds so far this season.
Sallis is a strong shooter with several standout performances already under his belt. Against Virginia Jan. 13, the junior buried 5-of-8 3-point attempts in a blowout victory. The story was the same against Louisville a week later — five triples with five assists as a bonus. More recently, Sallis dismantled Syracuse in their matchup last Saturday, making 4-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc while adding five assists.
The Demon Deacons and the Blue Devils are two of the top-three teams in the ACC in three-point percentage, and as such, their contest Monday could easily become a shootout. Sallis’ hot shooting and playmaking could easily shift the contest in favor of Wake Forest if Duke fails to contain him.
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