Duke Blue Devils vs. Pittsburgh Panthers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 20th 2024

No. 7 Duke is playing its best basketball at the moment, and its success is tied to both skill and the mindset it has taken on during an eight-game winning streak.

The Blue Devils (13-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) look to continue their upward trend when they take on a struggling Pittsburgh team on Saturday night in a league contest in Durham, N.C.

The Panthers (10-7, 1-5) have lost their last two — including a 75-53 home loss to the Blue Devils on Jan. 9 — and face a tall order in a building where Duke has lost only once this season in 10 outings.

Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer said the team has taken big steps forward from a mental standpoint after dropping back-to-back games to Arkansas and Georgia Tech in late November and early December.

“To see the growth, to see the mental makeup of the guys on this team, they’re tough,” Scheyer told the News & Observer in Raleigh. “I’m talking mental toughness, not just physical toughness on the court. I’m really proud of the growth we’ve made and really since that game. I do think we’ve been a different team.”

Kyle Filipowski has led the charge for the Blue Devils, scoring 18.2 points per game and being one of five players on the team with 15 or more 3-pointers on the season. He’s knocked down 21. Jeremy Roach has 24 made shots from beyond the arc and is averaging 14.6 points per game.

Duke held Pitt to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor in the first meeting while allowing their fewest points of the season.

Duke’s 3-point shot was working that night, with the Blue Devils connecting 11 times, and Filipowski paced Duke with a game-high 26 points (4-for-4 3-pointers) and 10 rebounds.

The Panthers followed that setback with a 69-58 home loss to Syracuse on Tuesday.

They’ll need to get things turnaround from a scoring standpoint against Duke, which has scored 80 or more five times during its streak and is averaging 82.0 points per outing while giving up 66.1 this season.

Pittsburgh is averaging 76.3 points per contest on the year and giving up 66.2. Blake Hinson has been leading the way, putting up 18.1 points per game and scoring 20 or more seven times this season. He scored just 12 against Syracuse while Carlton Carrington, Pitt’s second leading scorer at 13.5 points per game, was held scoreless.

Panthers coach Jeff Capel is working to figure out how to get his team back on track after it shot just 35.4 percent from the floor and 19.2 percent (5 of 26) from 3-point distance against Syracuse. The Panthers are shooting at a 42.6 percent clip on the year.

“That’s something I’m trying to figure out, the (right) buttons to push,” Capel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Obviously, what I have done hasn’t worked yet. I’m going to continue to try. We’re going to continue to believe in them, encourage them and tell them the truth. But we have to be mentally tougher and physically tougher.”

–Field Level Media

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