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DJ Steward: Duke Needs to Let UNC Know We're Not Punks

Freshman guard ready for first UNC-Duke game

Duke plays North Carolina after the Blue Devils suffered a disheartening loss at Miami on Tuesday.

"It was hard to watch," guard DJ Steward said. "Watching film together or on our own helps us. The truth comes out in the film. We've just got to move forward. We saw what we have to do better. We'll build on that Saturday. A rivalry game is a good time to turn things around."

Steward certailny watched plenty of Duke-Carolina games while growing up. Not surprisingly, another former Chicago player stuck in his mind.

"Just Jahlil Okafor having good games, getting and ones and dunks," he said. "Also Jayson Tatum's dunk. That was a big-time dunk. Having the opportunity to play in this game is very exciting. Very big-time. Everyone's excited, even though there aren't fans. It's a national game, a historical matchup. It's fun to play in. I can't wait."

Steward and fellow freshman guard Jeremy Roach will be matched up against UNC's freshman backcourt of Caleb Love and RJ Davis.

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"I played against them a couple times, especially Caleb Love," Steward said. "I'm close to him. I talk to him a lot. It's a historic matchup. They know that as well. They're going to come out and try to punch us, punk us around. We just can't allow that."

"We've got to come in. We've got to be energized," he continued. "We're going to have a lot of energy. We're coming off a tough loss. It's time to turn things around, play together and play the right way."

While there won't be fans, and neither team is ranked, it's still Carolina-Duke, and for Steward, it's his first time participating in the game.

"It's what you come to Duke for," he said. "I'm pretty sure this is why everyone comes to Duke-- for this big-time matchup, to play in big games. This is a game everyone's excited for. Everyone's going to be watching around the world. We've got to come ready to play and play our butts off."

Duke will need to fight for rebounds against a UNC team that excels on the boards.

"It's got to be crucial for us," Steward said. "We need an altogether game, rebounding as one. We worked on that in practice and hitting our man, getting the ball into their chest, being aggressive. Early in the game, it's going to be important for us letting them know we're not punks. We're going to play our hardest."