Busting Brackets

Duke Basketball: 3 keys to victory against Houston Cougars in Sweet 16 matchup

The Duke Blue Devils are back in the Sweet 16 for 29th time in school history and the first time under head coach Jon Scheyer as they head into a big matchup with the Houston Cougars on Friday night. Take a look at the three keys to victory heading into the game!

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - James Madison v Duke
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - James Madison v Duke / Elsa/GettyImages
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There's s a lot of optimism in the Duke Blue Devils camp heading into a pivotal meeting against the Houston Cougars as the underdogs on Friday night. The Blue Devils posted 93 points in their second round victory over James Madison, the most in the NCAA Tournament since March 17, 2016. They held the Dukes to a season-low 55 points in a 38-point victory as they shot 52.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range as a team.

Four different players finished scoring in double-figures led by Jared McCain's career-high 30 points. Tyrese Proctor also finished with 18 points and knocked down four 3-pointers to boost the offense. The Blue Devils have continued to find their identity as an overall unit heading into a game against the top scoring defense in Houston. Confidence should be high, but they'll need to remain focused as things should be a lot different in the Sweet 16 against a much more versatile and veteran-led group. Take a look at the three keys to victory for the Blue Devils.

Jared McCain must continue to rise

Jared McCain is coming off a career game in their victory over James Madison to get to the Sweet 16. He knocked down a school-record eight 3-pointers en route to a 30-point outing this past weekend. He's seemingly gotten better as time has progressed and he'll need to continue to rise against a gritty Houston defense.

McCain got hot in a hurry in the Blue Devils' rout of James Madison as he went 8-of-11 from behind the arc and finished 10-of-15 shooting from the field overall. He knocked down his first six 3-pointers in setting quite the tone for his teammates to feed off of in the first half. His career-high 30 points marks just the second time in school history a freshman has scored 30 points or more in the NCAA Tournament. The last player: Zion Williamson.

McCain isn't exactly the bruising presence that Williamson once was, but he's proven he can knock down shots from deep as well as make things happen for others and rebound the ball. He's putting up 14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals per contest as a starting presence in their backcourt this season. He'll need to continue to show off his star power on Friday night to keep the Blue Devils in the game.