Breakdown: Duke (16-2) at St. John's (13-5)

Breaking down the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Blue Devils and Red Storm


Duke vs. Louisville
Jan. 25 at 2 pm
TV: FOX
Madison Square Garden

DUKE

ST. JOHN’S
Overall Record 16-2
(.889)
13-5
(.722)
Location Record 3-1 (.750) in away games 10-3 (.769) in home games
Scoring/G: RM 81.8 -2.6
Scoring D/G: RM 63.7 63.2
Rebound Margin/G: RM 7.0 -2.6
Steals/G:
S
7.6 8.7
Assists/G: A
15.8 12.2
Field-Goal Percentage: FG% 50.0 44.4
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 3FG% 37.4 31.8
Field-Goal Percentage Against: FG% 42.1 38.5
Ranking: Coaches' Poll #6 NR
Ranking:
AP Poll
#5 NR

NCAA Seeding

NA NA
Point Guard

ADVANTAGE: DUKE
PG: Tyus Jones (6-1, 190, Fr.) vs. Phil Greene, IV (6-2, 187, Sr.)

Greene has three years of experience on Jones, and has been hot over the last five games averaging 15.2 points per night while shooting 48/88/38 from the field, free throw, and three point lines. Meanwhile, Jones is in the midst of a fight against the freshman wall. Over his last two games, that wall seems to be in the rearview mirror as Jones has played well against both Louisville and Pittsburgh. If Duke is going to win and get Coach K his 1,000th victory, it’ll start with Jones winning his match up as he’s been the best barometer for Duke’s level of play. It’s seemed as though the freshman has played his best in the biggest games, and we expect more of the same on Sunday.

Shooting Guard

ADVANTAGE: ST JOHN’S
SG: Quinn Cook (6-2, 185, Sr.) vs. Rysheed Jordan (6-4, 185, So.)

Jordan, like Cook is St. John’s second leading scorer and ranks among the top 10 players in the Big East in points (13.7) and steals (2.1). He’s been hot of late, averaging 16.3 points while shooting 49 percent from the field over the last three games. Cook, meanwhile, has been off over the last two games, shooting just 5-of-19 from the field and 3-of-15 from the perimeter. Jordan’s length and quickness could cause Cook some problems on each side of the court, but most likely the two players will cancel the other’s production out.

Small Forward

ADVANTAGE: ST JOHNS
SF: Justise Winslow (6-6, 225, Fr.) vs. D’Angelo Harrison (6-4, 202, Sr.)

Harrison is the team’s leading scorer and is fourth amongst active players in Division I with 1,952 points over his 3.5 seasons. He was named to the 2015 John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 List on Jan. 14. Harrison is 22nd in the country averaging 19.5 points per game and he is second in the BIG EAST with a 20.5 average in conference games. Meanwhile, Winslow has hampered by a recurring shoulder injury. Over the past four games Duke’s starting small forward has averaged just 5.5 points while shooting 7-of-29 (.241) from the field. Harrison has reached the 20 point plateau in nine of the last 12 games. Duke will rotate Winslow along with Sulaimon and Jones against Harrison, and so long as they can challenge and make things rough, the Blue Devils should be OK.

Power Forward

ADVANTAGE: DUKE
PF: Amile Jefferson (6-2, 215, Jr.) vs. Sir’Dominic Pointer (6-6, 192, Sr.)

Pointer has been very good in his final season for the Red Storm. His scoring average is down this year to 11.3 points, but he’s upped his rebounding total to 7.2 per game. Pointer ranks among the top 10 players in the Big East in rebounding, field goal percentage (53.4 percent), steals (2.1), and blocks (2.1) and assist to turnover ratio (1.9 to 1). Pointer has three double-doubles this season including a 15 point, 12 rebound effort against Coach Wojo’s Marquette team on January 21st. Jefferson has also been very good for Duke over the last three, averaging 13.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. Pointer will look to use quickness and ability to step outside to pull Jefferson away from the goal, but Jefferson has shown the ability to move his feet and defend in all areas of the court. We look for this to be one of the more competitive match ups on the court.

Center

ADVANTAGE: DUKE
C: Jahlil Okafor (6-11, 270, Fr.) vs. Chris Obekpa (6-9, 230, Jr.)

Jahlil Okafor is the nation’s top big man, and probably the National Player of the Year. He’s a 20-10 threat every night and even on his ‘off nights’ is going to score between 13 and 15 points per game. As his first season has continued, Okafor is getting better and better at passing out of double teams and adapting to the increased attention. On the flip side the Red Storm will counter with Obekpa, the team’s defacto big man who one of the better rim protectors in the country. Currently Obekpa is second among active D1 players with 292 career blocks and he’s swatting 3.6 shots per contest this year. Earlier this year Okafor struggled with a similar player in Devon Thomas and the various athletic bigs NC State threw at him - or, more specifically, Duke struggled to use Okafor when confronted with those match ups. We expect the big man to have a few shots altered or sent back, but at the end of the day he’s too powerful for anyone on the Red Storm roster to contain for an entire game.

Bench

ADVANTAGE: DUKE
Bench: Neither of these team is especially deep. Duke goes just eight deep with Rasheed Sulaimon having established himself as the team’s sixth man. Joining his fellow Texan in the shooting guard rotation is Matt Jones, who has come up big in various spots this season by either hitting a big jumper or two or by making things tough on opposing guards on the defensive end. In the post Duke has turned to Marshall Plumlee for rebounding and defending. Each of the three players would be the top sub for St.John’s which usually plays between six and seven players for meaningful minutes. The best player off the bench has been Jamal Branch who has been a part time starter. He’s another senior guard who is shooting 48 percent from the field.
Coaching

ADVANTAGE: DUKE
Coaching: Mike Krzyzewski vs. Steve Lavin

Lavin has revitalized the Red Storm program, winning 61 percent of his games and is coming off a 20 win season a year ago. He’s had some recruiting success as well, which will continue to bring the Johnnies back into the limelight. However, the guy on the opposite bench is going for 1,000 wins and continues to prove himself will to evolve and learn as evidenced by Duke’s defensive adjustments this season. The biggest challenge for Krzyzewski will be to help his team tune out the media frenzy which will surround every game until he wins his 1,000th.

Outcome

ADVANTAGE: DUKE
79 65
Prediction: There’s a talent advantage for Duke, and though this is a road game it’s a safe bet that the Blue Devils will enjoy a bit of a home court advantage in MSG as well. Coach K’s teams usually play well on the big stages, and there aren’t many bigger than MSG. The Red Storm present some matchup problems for Duke with a veteran backcourt that’s big and strong, but the Blue Devils have a front court for which the Johnnies probably don’t have much of an answer. In their only big time game of the season the Red Storm were blown out by Villanova. Duke has similar (if not better) talent than the Wildcats and should be able to win this one comfortably. Look for Jones and Okafor to lead the charge, and if Winslow can limit Harrison on the wing, it’ll be over much quicker. We expect Duke to have between a 7 and 10 point lead at the half and to put it away before the under eight media time out.

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