Duke basketball: Rick Barnes divulges Tennessee’s defensive strategy

Duke basketball opponent Rick Barnes (Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball opponent Rick Barnes (Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports) /

Rick Barnes did not hide his defensive strategy for the Duke basketball team. 

Saturday afternoon will be a major showdown between the Duke basketball team and the Tennessee Volunteers with a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden.

Each team had a different path to advance to the Round of 32 as the Blue Devils dominated Oral Roberts, 74-51, and the Volunteers raced out to an 18 point lead against Louisiana before having to hold on for a three point victory, 58-55.

Tennessee has been trying to compensate for the absence of star sophomore point guard Zakai Zeigler, who suffered a torn ACL on February 28 against Arkansas, and head coach Rick Barnes is still looking for answers.

Zeigler was averaging 2.0 steals per game prior to his injury and was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team for the second year in a row on Rocky Top.

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The ‘Vols defense in the first half against Louisiana was suffocating — only allowing 19 points — but the Ragin’ Cajuns found something that worked in the second half to shoot 50.0-percent from the floor and score 36 total points after halftime.

Barnes liked what his team showed in a zone defense on Thursday night and he’s not hiding it from the Blue Devils.

“We’re gonna play zone for 40 minutes [on Saturday],” the 68-year old told the media after his team’s victory over Louisiana when if it could help compensate for the loss of Zeigler.

“Go tell Duke that.”

Perhaps a bit of sarcasm and gamesmanship from the Tennessee head coach but certainly something to monitor going forward.

Duke basketball has success against zone defense

Duke has faced a zone defense at various points of the season but none more than its game against Syracuse inside the JMA Wireless Dome on February 18.

The Blue Devils dominated the 2-3 zone defense of the Orange, winning 77-55, while shooting 54.5-percent from the floor and 50.0-percent from 3-point range.

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It was the second straight victory of what has turned into a ten game winning streak for Duke.

Tipoff is schedule for approximately 2:40p.m. ET (CBS) on Saturday afternoon from the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

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