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PREVIEW: Duke (3-1) v. Georgetown (1-2)

Duke returns to action today in the championship game of the 2K Classic in New York, facing the Georgetown Hoyas. Here's a breakdown of the game and a prediction on the outcome.

GEORGETOWN HOYAS
2-0 Overall, 0-0 Conference 

PROJECTED STARTERS

G- 00 L.J. Peak (9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G- 04 D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (13.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.3 apg)
C- 42 Bradley Hayes (13.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
F- 24 Marcus Derrickson (5.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
F- 20 Isaac Copeland (13.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg)

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STAR WATCH

The Hoyas have a nice balance of players who can score, rebound, and defend on the interior and perimeter.  It starts with D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, a 6’5 wing who leads the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game.  The 6-foot-3 senior will present a unique challenge for Duke’s Derryck Thornton in that Smith-Rivera is powerfully build and will have a distinct physical advantage.   Not only is he a capable scorer off the bounce, Smith-Rivera has shown the ability to get hot from the perimeter and is a career 37 percent perimeter shooter.

Inside the Hoyas, as usual, have a ton of size along the front line beginning with senior big man Bradley Hayes.  The Florida native checks in at 7’0 and 270 pounds and can impact the game in the half court.  He had 19 and 12 in the loss to Redford and 16 and 8 against Maryland.  Wisconsin presented a bad matchup and limited Hayes to just 14 minutes.  For Duke it’ll be interesting to see how the Blue Devils counter Hayes…will it be with Marshall Plumlee or Amile Jefferson.  If it’s the latter, Hayes will have an advantage on the offensive end, but will likely find foul trouble if Jefferson faces up and drives.  

The best player on the roster, however is 6-foot-9 sophomore Issac Copeland who has doubled his offensive output from a season ago.  He can play either forward position and has range out to the three point line (he shot 39 percent last season). 

THE STORYLINES

GEORGETOWN IS VERY DEEP

The Hoyas began the season with losses to Redford and Maryland, but rallied to control the game against Wisconsin in the 2K Classic semifinals.   The Hoyas have a roster that’s experienced and loaded with options all over the court.   Outside of Smith-Rivera the may not have a consistent go-to scorer, but they also don’t need one.  Instead the Hoyas prefer to utilize a strong and physical brand of defense that grinds on opponents while the offense is extremely balanced and continues to come at opponents in waves.

Against the Badgers the Hoyas put four players in double figures, and that was without Hayes having much of a game.  Similarly, freshman Marcus Derrickson had come off the bench to score 13 against Maryland, didn’t register a point against Wisconsin.  And it didn’t matter because of the depth…in this case 6-foot-7 wing Reggie Cameron who scored 14 points.  

"I know I can make shots. We were just really ready to get there and play this game today," Cameron said. "I think our whole team was excited. We all wanted to get out there and everybody wanted to play good and contribute and everybody did that today."

In addition the Hoyas got 13 points from backup center Jessie Govan who had scored 2 points in 11 minutes against Maryland.  

For a Duke team that is struggling to find an identity in various spots, the Hoyas present a number of challenges.  

KIDS TAKING THEIR TIME

Duke seems to have found its point guard after freshman Derryck Thornton - the lone bright spot for the underclassmen against Kentucky - earned his first career start and posted 19 points against VCU.  

"Derryck brought a personality, in his talk and he looked strong, played that way," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Even if there was a mistake, it never rattled him. He's earning the respect and confidence of his teammates. I was very impressed with that."

As for the rest of the nation’s No. 2 ranked recruiting class?  It’s taking a bit of time.

For starters, small forward Brandon Ingram seems to have been bothered by both the speed and physicality of the college game.  At least not against the kind of opponents he’ll see at the highest levels.  After starting the season averaging 18.0 points per game against Siena and Bryant, Ingram has averaged just 6.0 points per contest while shooting 3-of-13 from the field, 0-3 from the perimeter, and 6-of-13 from the free throw line against Kentucky and VCU.  

Classmate Luke Kennard has also struggled scoring the ball, and enters the game against the Hoyas having missed nine straight shots from the field.  On the season the freshman, who is considered the best pure shooter on the Duke roster, is shooting just 14.3 percent from the perimeter (2-of-14) and 34.6 percent from the field (9-of-26)

Chase Jeter, the last of the freshmen expected to crack the regular rotation, has played spot minutes against Kentucky and registered a DNP against VCU as the Blue Devils were forced to go with a four guard lineup.

MORE ROTATION CHANGES FOR DUKE?

Following the big performance against VCU it’s unlikely that Derryck Thornton will not be the starting point guard on Sunday afternoon for Duke.  

It’d be something approaching a crime if Grayson Allen didn’t regain his starting spot after pouring in 30 points against the Rams - and every one of them needed. 

Amile Jefferson is also a lock to be in the starting lineup thanks to his contributions on the defensive and offensive ends.  

There are three players - Matt Jones, Marshall Plumlee, and Brandon Ingram - competing for the final two spots in the starting five.  Georgetown’s size and strength can likely match whatever Duke wants to do here.  Will Coach K go big with Plumlee inside?  Or will he attempt to bump Ingram over to the stretch four?  

The most likely scenario, at least based on recent performances, would be for Ingram to be relegated to the sixth man position with Plumlee starting in the middle.  Jones is a near lock as the fourth starter both for his perimeter defense and timely shooting.  

Notebook:

- Duke won the 2008 2K Classic with a 71-56 win over Michigan in the championship game. Kyle Singler was named tournament MVP. 

- Matt Jones is the lone Duke player to score in double figures in all four games and leads Duke with a 134.1 offensive rating. 

- Ranked fifth by the Associated Press, the Blue Devils have been ranked in the AP poll an NCAA- best 157 consecutive weeks, the seventh-longest streak in NCAA history. 

- Mike Krzyzewski owns a 1,021-311 record over 40-plus seasons as a head coach, including a 948-252 mark at Duke (35-plus seasons).

- As a team, Duke returned just 24.0 percent of its scoring (19.0 ppg), 32.3 percent of its rebounding (11.9 rpg) and 16.6 percent of its assists (2.5 apg) from last season’s national championship run.  As a group, the returning Blue Devils combined to start only 77 games heading into the season (Jefferson - 59; Jones - 18). That figure was the third-fewest in the ACC heading into 2015-16.

They Said It:

"I'm just really here trying to soak in everything Coach has for me and has planned for our team" - Duke’s Derryck Thornton

"Everyone on the bench has to be ready to get into the game and contribute for as long as they're in there.” - John Thompson, III on his rotation

The Prediction

This will be an extremely tough test for Duke on a number of fronts.  The Hoyas have a very deep and physically mature lineup whereas Duke has several players who have been overmatched by some of their elder opponents.  Additionally, the Hoyas’ Princeton style offense will ask a number of questions of an inexperienced group that will need to communicate and guard on a much higher level than we’ve seen for stretches this year.  Duke spent the majority of Saturday’s practice going over the game-plan for the Hoyas, knowing that Sunday was going to be a challenge.   

The pick…

Duke - 76
Georgetown - 68


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