No. 16 Duke Welcomes Pitt to Cameron for Midweek ACC Contest
Seeking to bounce back from Sunday’s setback at Florida State, Duke returns to Durham for a brief pit stop, heralding February with a midweek contest against Pittsburgh on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m., live on ACC Network . Pam Ward and Stephanie White will call the action on the ACC Network while Chris Edwards will call the game on radio on Learfield’s Blue Devil Sports Network. Duke is having one of the best seasons in recent history — going 18-3 overall and 8-2 in ACC play. The Blue Devils’ 18 wins in 21 games and an 8-2 league record mark the program’s best results dating back to the 2013-14 campaign. Elizabeth Balogun was named one of the 10 players selected for Cheryl Miller’s Top 10 Mid-Season Forwards of the Year list. Duke registers at No. 16 in Week 13 in the Associated Press (AP) and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches polls. In the latest NCAA Rating Tool (NET) rankings, Duke is ranked eighth (as of January 31). Defense has been the Blue Devils’ calling card this season as the team have won each of their games by an average of 21.2 points and held each of their opponents below their season scoring average. including 11 of the 21 with 50 points or less. Duke has held its foes to 52.0 ppg with 35.0 percent shooting from the floor, ratings that currently rank fourth and 13th respectively in the NCAA, as well as first and second in the ACC (as of Jan. 31). ). Duke has found his ranged shot lately, toppling his treys to a 40.7% clip in ACC play. The Blue Devils received a huge boost from their reserves, averaging 25.0 points off the bench. Duke and Pitt will meet for the 15th time all-time, with Duke winning the previous 14 matchups. The Blue Devils won both clashes last season, posting a 54-39 road win in the regular season (2.3.22) before recovering from a late deficit to beat the Panthers, 55-52, in the first round of the ACC tournament.
SHARING THE WEALTH Duke’s five starters Elizabeth Balogun senior, Kennedy Brown junior, sophomores Shayeann Day-Wilson and Reigan Richardson and Celeste Taylor senior have provided a firm hand for the Blue Devils this season, combining for 67.5% (45.9 points) of the team. 68.0 points per game. Taylor hit double digits in 14 of 21 games this season, followed by Balogun and Day-Wilson with 11. Richardson and Brown each had seven double-digit efforts. Taylor leads Duke’s offensive charge, averaging 11.8 points per game with Balogun (10.3) and Day-Wilson (9.3) just behind in second and third. Brown and Richardson round out the group with 7.3 and 7.0 points per game, respectively. Duke’s depth has been on full display as the Blue Devils have featured seven different top scorers in 20 games this season, with Taylor (6), Balogun (5), Day-Wilson (5) and Vanessa de Jesus (2) finishing with the brought up by the team several times. The squad features 10 players averaging at least 13 minutes per game, with four averaging more than 20 minutes per game – Taylor (28.0), Brown (24.2), Day-Wilson (23.6) and Balogun (22.3). As a team, Duke ranks seventh in the ACC in field goal percentage (.431) and has assisted on 312 of its 532 field goals (.586) for an average of 14.9 cents per game – sixth in the ACC. The Blue Devils also rank second in turnover margin (+3.76), fourth in scoring margin (+16.00), free throw percentage (.758) and three-way field goal percentage points (0.334) and seventh for assist-to-rotation ratio (0.97).
DISRUPT THE PEACE – THE ELITE BLUE DEVIL DEFENSE The disruptive defense was the Blue Devils’ calling card early in the season as the team rank among the national elite, having held their opponents at 52.0 points per game on a 35.0% clip from the field. These brands rank fourth and 13th respectively in the NCAA, while ranking first and second in the ACC (as of January 31). Duke is also eighth in defensive standings, allowing opponents just 0.671 points per possession. The Blue Devils won each of their games by an average of 21.2 points and held each of their opponents below their season scoring average, including 11 of 21 at 50 points or less. In addition to leading the league in goal defense and ranking second in defense in field goal percentage, the Blue Devils also lead the ACC in rebound defense (31.14) , second in three-point defense (.272), third in rebound margin (+7.29) and blocks (5.05), fourth in defensive rebound percentage (.735) and fifth in steals (9.43).
INCREASE IN EFFICIENCY Duke’s line of Elizabeth Balogun, Shayeann Day-Wilson and Celeste Taylor have seen an increase in efficiency, particularly on the offensive end. The team’s leading scorer this season, Taylor is averaging 12.5 points from 40.7 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from distance since starting ACC play. She scored in double figures in seven of 10 games, including a season-high 23 points to help the Blue Devils knock out then No. 6 NC State, 72-58. In non-conference play, Taylor had 11.2 points on 44.0 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent on three. Day-Wilson has improved his game since the schedule moved into conference action, improving his scoring average by nearly four points while increasing his shooting percentage. After putting up 8.8 points per game on 38.1% and 35.7% shooting outside the conference, the second is averaging 12.4 points on 47.4% from the field and 44.4% in depth. She’s scored double figures in four consecutive games and five of her last six outings. In 10 league games, Balogun is scoring 10.0 points per game and improving his rebounding averages (6.1), while maintaining about the same efficiency shooting from the field and from beyond the arc. Balogun shot 53.2 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from three outside of the conference, while ACC play saw her shoot 49.4 percent and 37.5 percent, respectively. During that streak, Balogun scored in double figures in five games, including back-to-back double-doubles in wins over Louisville (20 pts, 10 rebs) and at Wake Forest (12 pts, 10 rebs).
BALOGUN TO TABBED TO CHERYL MILLER SMALL FORWARD OF THE YEAR TOP 10 MID-SEASON LIST Duke Women’s basketball senior Elizabeth Balogun was named one of the 10 players selected for the Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Mid-Season Top list -10, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Wednesday afternoon. Named after three-time Naismith Player of the Year and Class of 1995 Hall of Famer, the annual award, in its sixth year, honors the top small forwards in NCAA Division I women’s college basketball. Balogun has appeared in all 21 games for the Blue Devils, making 15 consecutive starts after coming off the bench in the first six games. Shooting a clip 51.2% from the field and 41.4% from distance, Balogun is second on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg) while leading in rebounding efforts with 5, 6 boards per game. The Lagos, Nigeria product has scored in double figures 11 times this season, including back-to-back double-doubles in wins over Louisville (20 pts, 10 rebs) and Wake Forest (12 pts, 10 rebs). In March, five finalists will be presented to Miller and the Hall of Fame selection committee. The Cheryl Miller Award Selection Committee is made up of top female college basketball personnel, including members of the media, head coaches, sports information directors, and Hall of Famers.
DUKE IN NATIONAL RANKING Duke ranks 16th in the Associated Press (AP) Week 13 and 15th in USA Today Coaches polls. The Blue Devils are also ranked 13th in the ESPN Women’s Basketball Power Rankings. The latest NCAA Rating Tool (NET) rankings put the Blue Devils eighth nationally (as of Jan. 31), second in the ACC, with an unbeaten home record (10-0), a mark of 7-2 in real road competitions. and are 1-1 in neutral site matches. With an average NET ranking of eight opponents, the Blue Devils are 4-3 this season against teams ranked in the top 50 in the NET ranking and 11-3 against the top 100, including wins over NC State ( No. 12), Virginia Tech (No. 22), Louisville (No. 35), Virginia (No. 48), FGCU (No. 52), and Oregon State (No. 53). Duke’s three losses have come to UConn, Florida State and North Carolina, which rank No. 2, No. 15 and No. 18 in the NET, respectively.
IN ELITE COMPANY The Blue Devils are the only women’s basketball team so far this season to shoot 100% from the charity strip and 64% or more from beyond the arc in the same game, according to HerHoopStats. Duke took nine of 14 three-point attempts and went 15 of 15 from the foul line in the win over the Wolfpack. After recording 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals against Syracuse, Celeste Taylor joined Chelsea Gray (3X), Haley Gorecki (4X) and Lexie Brown (4X) as the only female Duke women’s basketball players since 2009 -2010 to post multiple career games of 15+ points, 5+ rebounds, 4+ assists and 4+ steals, according to HerHoopStats.
THE WARM-UP FROM A DISTANCE After a slow start from downtown to open the season, the Blue Devils settled in and began to find their shot from three-point field. Since the start of conference play, Duke has flipped its treys to a clip of 40.7% compared to just 34.3% in non-conference action. The Blue Devils have shot over 40 percent in five of 10 ACC games while seven Duke players have combined for all 59 three-point marks. Celeste Taylor led the charge with 18 treys, followed by Shayeann Day-Wilson with 16 triples. Vanessa de Jesus cashed in eight, while Elizabeth Balogun and Ashlon Jackson drained six apiece. Reigan Richardson and Taya Corosdale complete the group with three and two triples respectively.
A LOOK AT THE PANTHERS Pitt (7-14, 0-10 ACC) comes into Thursday’s game after a 74-60 loss at Boston College on Sunday. Amber Brown and Liatu King lead the Panthers in the scoring column with 10.6 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. King also leads efforts on the glass with an average of 7.9 boards per game while Marley Washenitz prepares a team-best 2.0 assists.
Duke is back on the road for its next two games, starting with a trip to South Bend, Ind., where the Blue Devils will face No. 9/8 Notre Dame on Sunday, February 5 at 1 p.m., live on RSN .
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