Previewing Saint Louis

Lost in the drama surrounding Kyrie Irving's injury is the fact that the Blue Devils will take the court for a 10th time this season on Saturday to face the Saint Louis Billikens. The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS beginning at noon EST.

St. Louis (3-3) vs. Duke (9-0)
Durham, N.C. -- Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: CBS 12:00 PM EST (Ian Eagle & Clark Kellogg)
MEET THE BILLIKENS

Head Coach: Rick Majerus (4th Year)
Record at St. Louis: 60-45
Record v. Duke: 0-0

Projected Starters:
?11 Mike McCall (6-2, 165 Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 3.3 apg
23 Kyle Cassity (6-3, 200, Jr.) – 11.7 ppg, 2.8 apg
15 Christian Salecich (6-3, 190, So.) – 2.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg
14 Brian Conklin (6-6, 230, Jr.) – 5.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg
51 Rob Loe (6-11, 240, Fr.) – 8.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
10 Paul Eckerle (6-1, 175, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 0.5 rpg
24 Cody Ellis (6-8, 240, So.) – 7.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg
21 Dwayane Evans (6-5, 205, Fr.) - 5.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
5 Jordair Jett (6-2, 210, Fr.) - 6.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.3 apg
32 Cory Remekun (6-7, 205, So.) - 4.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg


Series History: This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools with Duke having won all three previous meetings. The last meeting between the clubs occurred 22 years ago, during the 1987-1988 season when Duke beat the Billikens 69-53 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Against teams currently in the Atlantic 10 the Blue Devils have an all-time record of 77-27.

St. Louis Roster: Click Here
St. Louis Statistics: Click Here
St. Louis Schedule: Click Here


PRE-GAME NOTES:

Quote To Note: "We're young and sometimes we get too complicated doing things, so we have to simplify them." - SLU coach Rick Majerus

Season To Date: The Braves have split their first six games against somewhat weaker competition. The Billikens have dropped games to Austin Peay, Georgia, and at Portland. In games that have come out positive for SLU, the Majerus' club has defeated Rockhurst, Tennessee State, and IUPUI.

The last time out against Portland the Billikens rallied from a 14 point second half deficit to close within five before losing by nine. A trio of freshmen paced the Billikens in scoring, led by guard Mike McCall's 14 points. Guard Jordair Jett netted 13 points, while forward Dwayne Evans chipped in 11. It was a homecoming game for Oregon native Brian Conklin, who registered eight points in 16 minutes of action.

Youth Movement: Rick Majerus is playing all four of his freshmen early in the season. Two of the newcomers, Mike McCall and Rob Loe have averaged 27 and 20 minutes respectively as starters while Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans have come off the bench for 22.2 and 19.0 minutes per game. Jett and Evans rank among the top 10 in the A-10 in steals per game. Jett is third with 2.0 steals per game, while Evans comes in tied for 10th with 1.3 steals per contest.

The foursome has combined to lead the scoring by class for St. Louis by scoring 48 percent of the total points this year. The junior class has scored 33 percent of the points whereas the sophomores have added 19 percent.

Oceanic Connection Can Play: Saint Louis sophomore forward Cody Ellis (Perth, Australia/Institute of Sport) was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference's preseason All-Conference third team, while freshman forward Rob Loe (Auckland, New Zealand/Westlake) was selected for the league's All-Rookie team, as voted upon by A-10 head coaches and select members of the media.

Contrasting Styles: The Blue Devils want to get up and down the court and score. On the other hand the Billikens want to play a more conservative pace. Duke is scoring 89.2 points per contest while SLU is hitting for just 64.8 points per game, which is two points less than Duke allows per night. The slower style of play has served the program well under Majerus. Since he took over, the team has posted a 38-5 record when holding their opponent under 60 points per game.

Speaking Of Injury: The Blue Devils will be without freshman phenom Kyrie Irving who sustained a toe injury against Butler. Through his first eight games as a collegian, Irving is averaging 17.4 points and 5.1 assists per game. He currently ranks in the top 10 of the ACC in six statistical categories.

Duke Noteables: The Blue Devils will be looking to move to 10-0 on the season against St. Louis, but there are some additional notes worth following:

  • Mike Krzyzewski is two wins shy of catching Dean Smith for second place on the all-time coaching wins list. Coach K enters Saturday's game with 877 career wins.
  • The Blue Devils have won 19 consecutive games dating back to a 79-72 loss at Maryland on March 3, 2010. Duke has won 27 of its last 28 games overall.
  • The Blue Devils have won an NCAA-best 82 consecutive non-conference home games. The last home loss against a non-conference opponent for the Blue Devils was on Feb. 26, 2000 against St. John's, 83-82. Duke has won 46 straight home games against unranked opponents. The Blue Devils' last loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium to an unranked opponent was to Florida State on Feb. 4, 2007.
  • Duke has now won 51 consecutive home games in the month of December with the last loss coming against Michigan on Dec. 8, 1996.
  • Duke has scored 80 or more points in seven straight games and in eight of the nine games this season. They are 490-46 all-time under Coach K when scoring at least 80 points. With a strong second half performance against Bradley that saw the Blue Devils put up 51 points, Duke has now scored 50 or more in the second half in five of the nine games on the year.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Game two without the most dynamic player on the roster tips off on Saturday against St. Louis. The Billikens will be looking to slow the game down tremendously while Duke will try to push the ball and adapt to life without Irving. Against Bradley the Blue Devils jacked up 33 perimeter attempts. If Irving is truly gone for an extended period such an offense isn't the recipe for success against better teams. And, while Duke can simply out-talent SLU, it will be critical to re-establish Kyle Singler as a primary scoring option while looking to get more production out of Mason Plumlee inside. Look for the Blue Devils to experiment with a number of different looks and spend a majority of the game in the small-ball set that places Singler in the frontcourt with Smith, Andre Dawkins, and Seth Curry in the backcourt.

Prediction:
Duke - 82
St. Louis - 58


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