Duke basketball: Clear reasoning for recent Blue Devil struggles

Duke basketball (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /

The recent Duke basketball struggles can be pinned on one positional group. 

Duke basketball had the perfect opportunity to cement itself as an NCAA Tournament team with three games coming against fellow bubble opponents.

However, the Blue Devils (11-10, 9-8 ACC) have already dropped two of those three games with the final game of the regular season coming against the North Carolina Tar Heels (15-9, 9-6 ACC) on Saturday night.

In losses to Louisville (13-5, 8-4 ACC) and Georgia Tech (14-8, 10-6 ACC), the best player on the floor for Duke was Matthew Hurt despite his battles with foul trouble.

On the contrary, the performances at the guard position have been very poor, and even the slightest increase of production would have resulted in two Blue Devil victories instead of two overtime losses.

Against the Cardinals, the guard combination of DJ Steward, Jeremy Roach, and Jordan Goldwire combined for 12 points on 3-of-21 shooting from the field and 1-of-10 from three-point range.

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Steward led the group in scoring with eight points, shooting 2-of-13 from the field and 1-of-5 from downtown.

It felt like Hurt was on the floor by himself against Louisville, and any help from the guards would have pushed Duke to a much-needed home victory.

The trio put forth more of the same production on the road against Georgia Tech with 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Again, Steward led the group in production with eight points, making just 2-of-8 attempts and 1-of-6 from 3-point territory.

Duke basketball could have better days ahead

Forwards have always thrived at Duke, and the guard play under Mike Krzyzewski has always enhanced those wings. But the guard group that currently resides in Durham is too streaky to be consistently relied upon.

Against the tall and physical forwards of North Carolina, Matthew Hurt has struggled in his three games against the Tar Heels, averaging just 2.3 points per game, but the Blue Devil guards thrived in the first meeting between the rivals.

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DJ Steward, Jeremy Roach, and Jordan Goldwire combined for 34 points on 14-of-27 shooting from the floor and 4-of-8 from downtown in Duke’s 91-87 loss.

The Blue Devils will try and split the regular season series with their bitter rival on Saturday, March 6 at 6:00pm EST (ESPN) inside the Dean Dome.

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