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Tudor: Duke's to-do list against Creighton

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Duke's get-it-done list for Sunday's NCAA game against Creighton in Philadelphia:

•Stay awake: With a 9:40 p.m. starting time, it's going to be a long, long day for the Blue Devils (28-5, second seed Midwest).

Most coaches and players detest starting times later than 8 p.m. and only in the NCAA do games start after 9 o'clock.

Even at Duke, where mental toughness has long been a hallmark of Mike Krzyzewski's teams, it could be difficult to maintain game focus so deep into the night.

•Avoid Ethan Wragge: The burly 6-foot-7, 230-pound Creighton forward is the same guy whose hard foul knocked North Carolina playmaker Kendall Marshall out of the tournament last year in Greensboro.

The Bluejays (28-7, No. 7 seed) annually are among the most physical teams in the country _ a reflection of Coach Greg McDermott's aggressive defensive philosophy and a deep roster. Eight or nine players are used in most games.

Wragge, the sixth man, is capable of defending all five positions.

•Rebound: Creighton has six straight wins after Friday's NCAA 67-63 elimination of favored Cincinnati. In each of those six wins, rebounding has been crucial with McDermott's 6-8 son Doug (27 points, 11 rebounds against Cincy) often dominant on the boards.

The Blue Devils are an improved rebounding team with the return of forward Ryan Kelly (5.5 average per game), but it's hardly been a team strong suit all season.

•Three balls: Even with Seth Curry going 2-for-2 and scoring 26 points overall, the Devils managed only four 3-pointers in Friday's 73-61 win over Albany.

Against Creighton's bigger, longer defense, more than four likely will be needed, meaning Curry will need lots of kick-out passes and perimeter screens.

•Need Rasheed: With seven points and a couple of rebounds, Rasheed Sulaimon made contributions against Albany, but the freshman wingman hasn't been consistent factor for three weeks.

If Sulaimon can find a second wind, Duke will be substantially better for the rest of the tournament. If not, productive depth will be a growing issue.

•The pick: The Bluejays have won only one game in which the opponent scored 70 or more points since beating Missouri State 91-77 on Jan. 30.

Since then, they've lost to Indiana State (76-57), Illinois State (75-72), St. Mary's (74-68) and beat Wichita State (91-79).

Creighton's defense obviously is very good, but Duke's offense should be better. Devils, 77-71.

 

 

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