Five To Watch: Pitt-Duke

In its first year in the ACC, Pitt's first conference meeting with Duke is a marquee matchup.

* For those who think this is a down year for Duke basketball, consider what the Blue Devils have done in their last four games.

Winners of four in a row, Duke has done so allowing an average of 56.8 points a game, holding the opponents in the last four game to a combined 42.7 shooting percentage, which includes 29 percent from three-point range.

Aside from a four-point win over Virginia two weeks ago, Duke has an average margin of victory of 29.3 points a game.

* While it's evident that Duke's team defense had been a factor in this current winning streak, so is freshman Jabari Parker. While he's scored 20 points or more 11 times in 20 games this season, it's his rebounding that has been on display in the last two games. In fact, he's averaging 14.5 rebounds in his last two games, including 8.5 offensive rebounds per game. His 10 offensive rebounds on Saturday against Florida State tie the most by a Duke player in a game (Elton Brand).

* While Parker is a handful inside, Rodney Hood is every bit as dangerous as a shooter. He's one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC (40-89, 44.9%).

Everyone seems to know about Hood and Parker. Duke has some other players who could sneak up in this game. Take for example Andre Dawkins. Duke is 9-0 this season, and 38-2 for his career, when he reaches double-figures.

Amile Jefferson, who was targeted by Pitt in his recruitment, is working his way back into the starting lineup. He's averaging 7.0 points and 8.7 rebounds a game in his last six games, a stretch where Duke has gone 5-1.

* For Pitt, Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna have played the way you hope fifth-year seniors would play. Even looking in the past week, Patterson was untouchable at Maryland, where he finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Zanna finished with 22 points in Tuesday's win over Clemson.

Patterson has finished in double-figures in all but one game (Fresno State) this season. He's looking to become one of three Pitt players in program history to finish with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists. He only needs another 33 assists to join that club.

Zanna has reached double-figures in all but three games, including two double-doubles in his last five games.

* Aside from what the two seniors have brought to the team this year, take a look at what's happened since Durand Johnson went down on January 11 with an ACL injury.

Since Johnson was lost for the year, it hasn't been a matter of replacing exactly what Johnson did. It's been creating a new look to the team's dynamic, with four different players seeing an increased role. James Robinson--who leads the ACC and the nation with a 4.61 assist to turnover ratio--is averaging 11.0 points a game in the four games since Johnson's injury. For the season, Robinson is averaging 8.3 points a game.

Chris Jones has seen his minutes go up. He played a season-high 20 minutes against Clemson, follows by 14 minutes at Maryland on Saturday. That included a career-high six rebounds against Clemson. Jones had been averaging 5.8 minutes a game prior to Johnson going down. His minutes have doubled in the last four games.

Cameron Wright is enjoying a breakout year, but has seen his production go up since Johnson's injury. Despite his increased contributions, Wright has hit double-figures in three of his last four games. More importantly, he's shooting 18-34 (52.9%) from the floor.


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