PREVIEW: Duke (3-0) v. Temple (2-0)

The Blue Devils and Owls tip off tonight in Brooklyn as part of Coaches v. Cancer event

Temple OWLS

2-0 Overall

?PROJECTED STARTERS
F- 04 Daniel Dingle (11.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
?F- 10 Mark Williams (7.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg)
C- 23 Devontae Watson (2.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
G- 25 Quentin DeCosey (11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
?G- 02 Will Cummings (13.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg.)

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STAR WATCH
?Third year sophomore wing Daniel Dingle has been the most efficient offensive player for the Owls through two games. At 6-foot-7 Dingle entered the season as somewhat of an unknown. As a freshman he appeared in just 10 games, and then was lost for the season last year after starting twice and establishing himself as a rotational player with 6.7 points and 11 blocks.

Currently playing 33 minutes per game and shooting 50 percent from the field, Dingle’s been steady, but senior guard Will Cummings has been super aggressive. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Cummings is a powerful guard who can get to the rim and draw contact. So far this season, however, his shooting has been poor, hitting just four of 26 shot attempts. Despite the 15 percent shooting clip, Cummings has converted 18 of 24 free throw attempts in two games. And, despite his height and position, Cummings is the team’s second leading rebounder at 7.5 per game.


STORYLINES


MISFIRING EARLY…AND OFTEN:
The Temple offense is a work in progress at the moment. And that’s putting it kindly. The Owls are collectively shooting 33 percent from the field and 29 percent from long range. The team is also coughing up the ball 14.5 times per game.

Were it not for a 70 percent clip at the charity stripe the Owls would most likely be 1-1 with a loss.

The ship was somewhat righted in the second game, an 82-75 win over Louisiana Tech, but the opener was ugly. In the 40-37 victory over American the Owls shot 23 percent from the floor and 26 percent from long range. To their credit, the Owls did what they had to in order to get a result, out-rebounding the Eagles by 14 on the offensive glass.

Cummings in particular has been cold to start the year, missing nine of his 10 perimeter attempts on the season. The starting lineup has combined to go just 7-of-26 from downtown.

Still, things got better in the second night out as Cummings and Quenton DeCosey scored 20 apiece and combined for 14 boards.

TOUGH & PHYSICAL:
Duke will get a follow up to Tuesday’s contest against Michigan State in which the Spartans bumped, pushed, and generally beat up on the Blue Devils. At least compared to the first two opponents.

The result against Spartans was another victory, but the game featured a couple of extended periods of dysfunction on offense as Tom Izzo’s club beat Duke to loose balls, and badly on the glass. It kept them within striking distance for much of the night and seemed to flummox the young Blue Devils. Was it a blueprint for Temple? Perhaps, and the Owls play their own brand of tough defense, limiting early opponents to to 36.8 percent and 56.0 points per game.

It’ll be a good challenge for both the Blue Devil offense (currently shooting over 60 percent on the season as a team) and the Temple defense. For his part, however, Temple head coach Fran Dunphy is exhibiting a bit of doubt.

"We need to do everything we need to do a little better than we've ever done,” said the Owls’ head coach of the matchup.

FAVORITES…BUT RIPE FOR AN UPSET?
So far so good for the young Blue Devils. Three wins in three games with three freshmen starting. It’s a young lineup that has yet to look young. In the first two contests there was no real challenge as Duke won by 50 plus per game. Against Michigan State, however, the freshmen played like veterans and carried their team to a win over a nationally ranked opponent.

I was extremely happy with the three freshmen,” said senior captain Quinn Cook. “For it to be their first big- time game, to play like that, that just says wonders about those guys. “

But Temple and Coach Dunphy have experience in big games and in pulling off upsets. It’s been a few years, but when the Owls took down then No. 3 Syracuse on December 12th, 2012 it marked the fifth straight season in which Temple had beaten a Top-10 team. And Duke knows after Temple beat No. 5 Duke 78-73 on January 4, 2012 behind Khalif Wyatt who scored 22.

Question To Be Answered


1. Was That The Rotation?
After playing a full 10 player rotation against the cupcakes to start the season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski shortened the rotation to eight against the Spartans. The odd men out were reserve power forward Semi Ojeleye and scoring guard Grayson Allen who combined for just three minutes.

The three players who seemed to gather those extra minutes were Okafor, Cook, Winslow, and Jones - all of whom played 30 or more minutes against Michigan State. The fifth starter, Amile Jefferson, however, played just 21 minutes.

So…is that who is going to play at crunch time?


Notebook:


- This is the 110th season of Duke basketball. Over the previous 109 years the team has compiled a record of 2,031-848.

- Coach K will win his 1,000th game at some point this season. His career record is 986-306 while his Duke mark stands at 912-247.

- The Blue Devils are 6-2 all-time in Coaches vs. Cancer contests, including opening round wins at Cameron Indoor Stadium over Presbyterian (Nov. 14) and Fairfield (Nov. 15). Duke has won its last six games in the event, capturing the 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer title in the process.

- Duke’s top-rated freshmen class - Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow - combines to average 54.4 points per game while shooting an efficient 64.9 percent (61-of-94) from the field.

- The Blue Devils have trailed for just 18 seconds through the first three games of the season. Duke trailed Fairfield 2-0 before hitting a three-point field goal on the following possession to take the lead. The Blue Devils led wire-to-wire in wins over Presbyterian and Michigan State.


They Said It:


“It’s definitely a dream. We’ve got a tremendous amount of talent on this team at every position, and it definitely makes my job a lot easier.” - Tyus Jones


The Prediction


Temple isn't very deep or overly big, but like Michigan State the Owls will force Duke to grind through the entire 40 minutes. The Blue Devil defense should cause Temple a number of problems, and there's no answer for Jahlil Okafor on Coach Dunphy's roster. For Coach K's group this game will be about dealing with a long road trip and taking care of business in order to move on to the a championship game against either UNLV or Stanford. Maturity hasn't been a problem despite the youth, and there's no reason to think Duke can't survive and advance on Friday night, which makes the pick...

Duke - 82
Temple - 65

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