Preview: Duke (21-4) vs. Miami

The Blue Devils return to Cameron Indoor Stadium to finish off the home portion of the 2004-2005 schedule. While one of the biggest games of the season will be played Sunday in Chapel Hill, Duke can ill afford to look past Miami. After all the Hurricanes are fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives, hoping a win over Duke can give them a boost in momentum heading into March. <I>TDD</I> previews the match up.

For Duke the key to winning this game is easy: Get the ball inside to Shelden Williams. While J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing will have their chances to score, the Hurricanes simply have no answer for Williams' power in the paint. Given that Williams has been rather quiet on the offensive end for much of the last two weeks, a big game that boosts his confidence is important heading into the showdown in Chapel Hill. On a similar tangent, getting Shavlik Randolph involved and playing with confidence would also be a boost to this team as he's been all but forgotten on both ends of the floor by both teams.

In their win at Coral Gables, the Blue Devils shut down Miami's backcourt star, Robert Hite, and though his teammate Guillermo Diaz stepped up, the lack of a balance backcourt attack hurt the Hurricanes and kept them at bay as Duke methodically built up a 20 point lead before cruising to a nine point win. A similar defensive effort will be needed in Cameron, though the guards will need to pace themselves as junior Sean Dockery is not available.

While it's certainly not a "must win" situation in Durham, the Blue Devils really cannot afford to lose if they want to stay locked as a number two seed in the NCAA Tournament. Right now most experts believe Duke must beat Miami and then either beat North Carolina or make a deep run (finals) of the ACC Tournament in order to secure a number two seed.

Meet the Hurricanes

C- Anthony King (6'9, 225, SO) – Last season as a freshman, King played just seven minutes per game and averaged barely a point per contest. Then, after Miami lost out on their top post recruit, CJ Giles, King found himself entering his sophomore season as the defacto starter in the middle for Haith.

He has been about as good as could be expected. With a very high level of athleticism and a nose for the ball, King has put up 6.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while ranking second to Duke's Shelden Williams with 3.0 blocks per game. He's already recorded season highs of 19 rebounds and 13 blocks, which was part of his first career triple double.

He still needs to work on his offensive game, as he's not a huge scoring threat, but his athleticism and quickness allow him to be a presence on the floor in a number of other ways. Putting him on the free throw line is a safe proposition if you have to foul someone, as he's hitting just 50% of his free throws.

Last Time: 10 points, 10 rebounds, five fouls in 33 minutes.

F- William Frisby (6'8, 235, SR) – Another player who entered this year as a largely unknown commodity, Frisby has continued the trend of strong play that began when he filled in for eight games as a starter last season. Like King, Frisby isn't an overly imposing offensive threat, but he is more advanced thanks to the three seasons of competition in the Big East.

In his final hoops campaign, he's hitting for 9.2 points and 6.5 rebounds while having his minutes limited to just over 24 per contest thanks what seems to be constant foul trouble.

Occasionally he'll step outside to the perimeter, where he has shown the ability to hit a three pointer, but mainly he makes a living on put backs and down on the blocks.

Last Time: 18 points, six rebounds in 31 minutes.

G- Robert Hite (6'2, 186, JR) – The team's second leading scorer and overall top offensive threat, Hite has taken the ACC by storm through his first four games. In addition to scoring at a 17.2 points per game clip (47% FG), he's also helping out on the glass with 5.0 rebounds. He's also the team's best perimeter defender, averaging nearly two steals per game.

As a sophomore the Ohio native hit the double figure plateau in 83% of the games he played, and was considered among the five most improved players in the entire Big East Conference. Perhaps his defining moment came last year when Miami upset North Carolina in a non-conference game behind a then career best 27 points from Hite. Since then he's torched FAU for 38, and Florida International by 29.

Another very high level athlete, Hite can torch you from the perimeter (38%), but is also easily quick enough to get to the rim and finish or draw the foul.

Last Time: Six points, three rebounds in 35 minutes.

G- Guillermo Diaz (6'2, 183, SO) – Like most high major freshmen, Diaz had his ups and downs last year for the Hurricanes. He certainly showed the ability to score, averaging nearly 12 points per game, but it was on the defensive end where he regularly struggled. Sure there were flashes of brilliance, like the game against St. Johns where he hit for 15 points and six rebounds, while also holding his opponent to two points including four steals against just one foul. However, those flashes were far between.

This year it's a difference story as Diaz is beginning to grasp the defensive concept Haith is trying to implement in South Beach, and it's resulted in him becoming a complete player for the ‘Canes.

More importantly, it's caught the ACC off guard in a big way. On the season he's produced averages of 18.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 47% from the field and 38% from the perimeter.

Last Time: 25 points, seven rebounds in 38 minutes.

G- Anthony Harris (6'2, 168, SO) – During his first full season in Miami, Harris didn't get much time, instead sitting behind now transferred point guard Armondo Surratt. Despite his scoring guard past, Harris has settled in nicely to a kind of combo guard role, ala his opponent, Daniel Ewing.

He's still scoring at a nice clip, at nearly 13 points per game, but he's also beginning to grasp the role of distributor, averaging nearly five assists per game. However, he's been plagued by turnovers, and is averaging three per contest, yielding just a 1.6/1 assist to turnover ratio – though most of the kinks have been worked out in conference play where he's dropped his give away average to just 2.1 per game compared to 4.4 assists per game.

Offensively his perimeter shooting has taken a hit this year, as he's hitting for just 31% on the year. The problem is the on the ball pressure he's facing and inability to get his shot off. However, with Hite and Diaz hot, his struggles have been somewhat masked.

Last Time: 15 points, three assists, three rebounds in 26 minutes.

The Reserves

Like Duke, Miami is a team built largely on the contributions of its starters. Off the bench comes 6'9, 245 pound junior Gary Hamilton, who, like his starting counterparts in the frontcourt, doesn't possess that game breaking offensive ability (4.1 points), but is a hard nosed rebounder (6.0 rebounds per game in 21.5 minutes per). 6'4 junior wing Eric Wilkins sees 12 minutes per game and spends most of his time on the defensive end. Freshman Raymond Hicks (6'7, 235), and Fordham transfer junior Glenn Batemon (6'11, 340) are both unknowns, that Haith has been bringing along slowly.

Game Notes
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

Duke (21-4, 10-4 ACC), ranked sixth in the nation by the AP and by ESPN/USA Today, faces Miami (16-10, 7-8) on Thursday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM.

This will mark the sixth meeting between Duke and Miami with the Blue Devils holding a 5-1 series advantage. It will be the second time that Duke and Miami will meet as ACC foes (Duke won, 92-83, at Miami earlier this year). Duke has won the past five games vs. the Hurricanes. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 5-0 vs. Miami.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN with Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (color) calling the action.

- Thursday will mark Senior Night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Seniors Daniel Ewing and Reggie Love will be honored prior to the game.

- A third Duke senior, Patrick Johnson, will return for the 2005-06 season. He was recently admitted to graduate school and has one year of eligibility remaining with the Blue Devils

- Duke enters the contest on a three-game winning streak following last week's victories over No. 5 Wake Forest at home (102-92), at Georgia Tech (60-56), and at St. John's (58-47)

- Duke's defense has allowed its last two opponents to .376 shooting (.000 from three-point range) and 51.5 points per game

- With its 10-4 league record, Duke has assured itself of a top three finish in the ACC regular season standings. The last time Duke did not finish among the league's top three teams was in 1995-96 (8-8, fourth)

- Duke is now 10-4 in ACC play, two games behind North Carolina (12-2) and one behind Wake Forest (11-3) in the loss column in the league standings. This marks the ninth straight year Duke has won at least 10 ACC games

- n his last 10 contests, Shelden Williams has blocked 38 shots (3.8 per game). Williams has moved into 11th place on the ACC's all-time blocked shots list with 255 career rejections

Betting Line

Duke by 14.5


Duke -83
Miami - 71

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