[8 AP / 6 Coaches] Duke (17-3, 5-1 ACC) vs. St. John’s (9-11, 3-6 Big East)
Saturday, January 28, 2012 • 12:03 p.m. • ESPN
The Opening Tip
• Duke (17-3, 5-1 ACC) hosts St. John’s (9-11, 3-6 Big East) in its final non-conference tilt of the regular season on Saturday, Jan. 28 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 12:03 p.m.
• Brent Musburger (play-by-play) and Dick Vitale (analyst) will call the game for ESPN.
• Duke is ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. St. John’s is unranked in both polls. The Blue Devils are 71-16 all-time when ranked eighth in the AP Poll.
• Duke is one of three teams (Baylor and Kansas are the others) in the NCAA to rank in the top 10 of the RPI, Strength of Schedule, AP and Coaches Polls.
• The Blue Devils had a 45-game home win streak snapped last Saturday and have not lost consecutive home contests since February of 2007. Duke has not lost more than one game at home in the last five seasons.
Duke-St. John’s Series
• Duke and St. John’s have met 20 times heading into Saturday’s game with the first meeting between the two schools coming on Feb. 4, 1938.
• The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 14-6, including a 5-1 mark at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
• Duke fell to St. John’s a year ago, but has won seven of the last eight contests in the series.
• Mike Krzyzewski is 14-3 at Duke against the Red Storm, including a 5-1 record in Durham.
• Duke has won five straight in the series at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils have a +23.0 scoring margin in that span.
• The Blue Devils have won 93 straight non-conference home games since falling to St. John’s, 83-82, on Feb. 26, 2000.
• Duke’s last two victories in the series have been by 10 points or less. The Blue Devils’ previous seven wins over St. John’s were all by double figures.
l Duke has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 86 straight weeks, the third-longest streak in NCAA history.
l Duke has won 93 straight non-conference home games, the longest current streak in the NCAA. The last home loss against a non-conference opponent for the Blue Devils was on Feb. 26, 2000 against St. John’s, 83-82.
l The Blue Devils have won 87 straight games at Cameron Indoor Stadium against unranked non-conference opponents.
l Duke is 59-2 at home since the start of the 2008-09 season.
l The Blue Devils are one of 12 teams in the NCAA with five or more players averaging 10 or more points per game. Duke has finished the year with five double-figure scorers six times under Mike Krzyzewski.
l Austin Rivers, a four-time ACC Rookie of the Week selection, is averaging a team-high 14.2 points per game. Johnny Dawkins was the last Blue Devil freshman to lead the team in scoring in 1983.
l Mason Plumlee collected his eighth double-double of the season (tied for most in the ACC) with 23 points and 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Maryland. He has collected 12 or more rebounds in a game 12 times this season.
l Ryan Kelly is shooting 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from three-point range on the season, including 51.9 percent (14-of-27) over the last 11 games. He shot just 30.7 percent (27-of-88) in his first two seasons at Duke.
l Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee combine to average 15.7 rebounds per game. One of the Plumlees has led the team in rebounds in 18 of 20 games.
l Tyler Thornton leads the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (6.7:1) through six conference games. He has 20 assists with just three turnovers in the last six games for the Blue Devils.
l Mason Plumlee has improved his free throw shooting over the last four games, going 15-of-18 (.833) from the line during that span. He was shooting 39.8 percent (37-of-93) from the free throw line prior to that stretch. Plumlee averages 5.6 free throw attempts per game.
l Austin Rivers is averaging a team-high 15.7 ppg. at home this season. He is shooting 51.5 percent from the field, including 43.2 percent from three-point range, in 10 games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
l Andre Dawkins is averaging 4.0 threes per game and 15.5 ppg. over the last four contests.
l Duke University is honoring the All-American Athletic Association on Saturday. This is their 40th year as ushers in Cameron, and since 1972, they have raised over $450,000 for local charities.
Here are a few post game video comment from Duke players Ryan Kelly, Seth Curry, Miles Plumlee via Blue Devil Nation Video -
It's not even Thanksgiving yet and the Duke Men's Basketball team is already 6-0 with wins over quality teams. The Blue Devils added to their March resume by defeating #15 Michigan 82-75 and in the process advance to the championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Austin Rivers scored the ball well with a career high 20 points. The dandy freshman drew Tim Hardaway Jr. for most of the night and he held him with help from his teammates to 0 in the first half. Hardaway would warm up to score 19 points, all in the second half, but Duke was never really threatened after going out to a double digit plus lead.
Seth Curry added 17 points for Duke and continues his consistent, silky smooth play. Ryan Kelly has now had back to back great games where he scored 17 points and went a stellar 9 of 10 from the free throw stripe. Andre Dawkins was the other Blue Devil in double figures with 14 points and 4 three pointers.
The Blue Devils handled the Wolverines vaunted 1-3-1 defense with tight guard play. That combined with 11 three pointers at a plus 50% clip and the Blue Devils remain undefeated on the season and they have yet to lose in the Maui Invitational. The Blue Devils will face the winner of the UCLA-Kansas game which guarantees a match up against on the the all time best college basketball programs.
BDN's Terry Rains will be adding some video interviews shortly where he is on the scene in Hawaii, so stay tuned for that.
It's another Monday morning and that means a new edition of Watzone's Monday Musings. I'm a little upset that I will not make it to New York tomorrow night in that I have been there for most of Coach Mike Krzzyzewski's milestone wins and this is the biggest one of all! We will have Andrew Slater there, so rest easy knowing BDN is always represented. I mean, is there anything else more news worthy than Coach becoming the NCAA's All Time Wins Leader? Still, we'll try to talk a little about other happenings, so here we go -
K - R - Z -Y -Z - E -W - S - K - I
Coach K has become a brand name and for good reason. The man is an ambassador for all of basketball, Team USA's lead man and so much more. But his name is Mike Krzyzewski and he deserves the respect of people spelling out his name instead of taking the easy way out with Coach, the 11th letter of the alphabet. To this day I watch as media members still fumble with his name. After 902 wins, you would think they would have it down pat, huh? If you are around mid day or just after 12:30 or so, follow me on out twitter page for I will be tweeting his press conference comments as they happen.
The Michigan State game
The stage is set in New York City in the famed Madison Square Garden for Duke to win one for their coach and the world to acknowledge his incredible accomplishments. But this game will be a test of a young teams mettle. The Blue Devils hung on for a win over a tough Belmont team but showed when the game gets tight, to some extent, so do they. This is something that happens to a young team that has not established a go-to guy yet and they could face a similar situation in New York. It will be interesting to see if the immense pressure of winning this game for their coach will make them push too hard or be so emotional that they are spent early on. Oh! That's right! Duke has Coach Krzyzewski, so all will likely work out.
Mase is having a good start to the season averaging 15.5 ppg, 11.0 rebounds per game and an even more impressive 4.0 assists per contest. Duke will need for Plum 2 to remain consistent for success this season and Mason seems ready for the challenge. The physically gifted junior is coming into his own and he can do things athletically few can down low. It seems like yesterday when I was hanging with Mason at the North Carolina State High School Basketball Championships. As they say, time flies!
Masons older brother, Miles, had a really nice outing against Presbyterian where he pout up a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards. But he struggled in the opener and Duke needs the senior captain to bring his "A" game every night. Like Mason, Miles can do some incredible things with his uncanny athleticism and once he realizes few can stop him when he wants to take it home, he can become a beast in the paint.
Curry seeks consistency
Seth Curry was one of the more hyped players coming into the season and made All ACC First Team. Curry scored 10 points in each of the first two games and while that is consistent, Duke needs him to take it up a notch. No reason to think this won't happen and there would be no better time for it than in New York tomorrow evening.
Tyler Thornton has been a steadying influence
Thornton brings a calm to the floor when he is out there in that he plays with maturity. Thornton had a great opener where is production was more than many felt they might see. While his numbers fell in the last win, he is getting 20 minutes of burn a game. Thornton will play a key role on this team and will be depended on as the young freshman develop.
This is an on going process but Austin Rivers is the only one of the bunch playing a major role thus far in the 2011-12 season. Rivers is just scratching the surface and trust me when I say this kid has shown you nothing yet despite playing well and scoring at a 15.5 ppg clip without taking a ton of shots. Alex Murphy has been saddled in a precautionary manner after suffering a fall, so it is hard to see what he might bring to the table. Quinn Cook has showed flashes of brilliance but is getting use to the pace of the college game and how sneaky defenders can be. Michael Gbinije has played a few minutes but has yet to really find his way as well. The bottom line is the freshman are just that but Duke needs them to adjust their games quickly for at least one of them besides Rivers will need to be counted on in a key reserve role.
Football team banged up
The Duke Football team fell to 3-7 on the season with a 31-21 loss at Virginia and several players were banged up. Duke is now playing for the future and will attempt to set the tone for next season when almost everybody returns. An upset win over Georgia Tech in their last home game this week or the following week at North Carolina but injuries might make this a tall task. Duke never really got a break through victory this season, so fans can hope one will come.
Support the seniors and show up for the last home game
While Duke has struggled to find wins this season, the senior class, as small as it is, has given fans some ACC wins and a few years ago, the Blue Devils had nada. We'll talk more about them later in the week but I do want to mention Matt Daniels, a vicious hitter who has been a main stay on the defense. If Duke ca find players with his resolve and spirit all will be fine and coaches are hoping that other players step up late as he passes the torch. Daniels has been rock solid for Duke and you should single him out and watch him pop in the last two games.
Until next week, Go Duke and congrats to Coach Mike Krzyzewski for he will soon be the King of the Hill and kounting.