Preview: Duke at Pittsburgh
First-year Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel has quickly shown the ability to not only attract high-level freshmen to his program but also coax the best out of them, just like close friend and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. At least a handful of the best rookies in the ACC will take the floor Tuesday when the Panthers host the second-ranked Blue Devils in the first-ever meeting between Capel and his former mentor Krzyzewski.
Duke’s vaunted freshmen class boasts the top two scorers in the conference and likely top-five 2019 NBA Draft picks in RJ Barrett (ACC-best 23.8 points) and Zion Williamson (21.5), and along with fellow rookie Cam Reddish, proved to be too much for previously undefeated Virginia on Saturday, accounting for 66 points in a 72-70 victory. “They’re mentally tough. … They came here mentally tough, especially those two kids, Zion and RJ. They play at a high, high level of scrutiny,” Krzyzewski said. Capel has his own impressive collection of first-year players, as Xavier Johnson (17.1 points) ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring, Trey McGowens (13.9) has two 30-point games over the last four outings and Au’Diese Toney (9.8) leads the team with 6.2 rebounds. The trio wasn’t able to get the job done Saturday, however, as the Panthers shot 33.8 percent and committed 17 turnovers in a 74-63 setback at Syracuse.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT DUKE (15-2, 4-1 ACC): Barrett (30 points on 11-of-19 from the field), Williamson (27 points, 10-of-16) and Reddish (nine points, 3-of-12) all played at least 37 minutes and combined to take 47 of Duke’s 51 shots in the Blue Devils’ first full game without point guard Tre Jones (shoulder) on Saturday. Barrett’s performance was particularly notable, as he rebounded from an 8-for-30 shooting effort in Monday’s overtime loss at Syracuse to post his fourth 30-point game, tying him for the second most by a freshman in school history. Williamson, who is the only player in the country scoring at least 20 points per game and shooting at least 60 percent from the floor, is averaging 25.6 points and 9.4 rebounds in ACC action.
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (12-6, 2-3): Johnson committed six turnovers – he has at least four in every conference game and nine of his last 12 – but was otherwise unfazed by the Orange’s 2-3 zone, finishing 6-for-11 from the field and 3-of-5 beyond the arc en route to 17 points to extend the Pitt freshmen record for most consecutive double-figure games to 18. Jared Wilson-Frame (11.2 points) bounced back from a scoreless 10-minute showing Monday against Florida State with a team-high 19 points and eight boards over 26 minutes Saturday. McGowens shot 2-for-13 and scored seven points in 31 minutes while dealing with foul trouble and an injury near his right eye in the first half.
1. Blue Devils junior F Javin DeLaurier is one field goal shy of tying the ACC record for consecutive shots made (20), set by Duke’s Alaa Abdelnaby in 1988-89.
2. Pittsburgh tied a season low with eight free throws Saturday after a 38-for-46 performance from the foul line in its upset of the Seminoles.
3. Five of the seven freshmen that rank among the top 21 scorers in the conference play for either the Blue Devils or Panthers.