Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Coach Mike Krzyzewski will go for his 999th career win as his Duke Blue Devils entertain the Pittsburgh Panthers in an Atlantic Coast Conference battle at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke had lost back-to-back contests to NC State (87-75) and Miami-Florida (90-74), but the Blue Devils got back in the win column on Saturday with a convincing road victory over Louisville (63-52) that improved the team's conference record to 3-2.
Pittsburgh enters the road contest having won two games in a row over Florida State (73-64) and Georgia Tech (70-65). The Panthers are 13-5 with an identical 3-2 ACC record as Duke. But Pitt's road record of 1-3 isn't exactly the start the team was hoping for.
Duke leads the all-time series against Pittsburgh by a slim 7-6 margin. The Blue Devils took the only meeting between the sides last season, 80-65.
Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech were knotted at 31-31 at halftime of Saturday's ACC contest, but the Panthers connected on 48 percent of their field-goal attempts in the second half to pull away from the Yellow Jackets for the five- point win. Jamel Artis and Cameron Wright each tallied 20 points to lead the Panthers, while Michael Young netted 16 points with six rebounds. James Robinson dished out a team-best nine assists for the Panthers.
Pittsburgh hasn't been the strongest offensive team in the conference this season, netting 67.4 ppg. But the team's scoring defense has been a staple so far, holding opponents to a mere 61.9 ppg on 42.8 percent shooting from the floor. That scoring defense will have to be on point against one of the better lineups in college basketball on the road. Young leads the team in scoring with 13.7 ppg, adding in a team-best 7.8 rpg mark. Robinson is the only other Pitt player averaging a double-digit scoring average at 10.2 ppg, also leading his squad with 86 assists on the season. Wright and Artis are both on the cusp of double-figure scoring, as each player checks in with 9.9 ppg.
After two straight ACC losses, the Blue Devils went on the road to face what was thought to be their toughest challenge to date. However, Duke jumped out ahead of Louisville early on and owned a 10-point halftime lead, which the visitors would only improve upon in the second period. Amile Jefferson took control early and ended his day with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Jahlil Okafor started slow and used a powerful second half to finish with 18 points and seven boards. Tyus Jones also contributed heavily to the victory, adding in 10 points and eight assists for the Blue Devils.
The freshman sensation Okafor has really turned up his play this season, and is solidifying himself as the likely top-overall draft selection this summer, should he choose to enter the professional level. He leads Duke and the ACC in scoring per game, averaging 18.9 ppg. He's also first in the conference in field-goal percentage (67 percent shooting) and is third in rebounding (9.4 rpg). Quinn Cook (13.4 ppg) and Justise Winslow (11.4 ppg) round out a trio of Duke players averaging scoring totals in double figures this season. Jones is third in the ACC and first on Duke with a 4.9 apg mark. The Blue Devils as a unit are scoring a whopping 82.0 ppg, and are holding opponents to 63.6 ppg.