Preview: Duke (25-5) vs. Delaware St

Duke (25-5), which is fresh of winning an unprecedented sixth ACC Championship in seven years, opens its quest for a fourth National Title of Friday night against the champions of the MEAC, Delaware State. It will mark the first time the two teams have ever met on the hardwood, though the Blue Devils have never lost (17-0) to a member of the MEAC Conference. <i>TheDevilsDen.com</i> previews the match up.

The Hornets enter the NCAA Tournament riding a huge wave of positive momentum after beating Hampton on a last second tip in the MEAC Championship game. It was truly an unexpected title run as Delaware State returned just one starter from last year's team. However, the Hornets got hot at the right time and have turned an 11-13 mark into a 19-13 record with their eight game win streak.

While history is not on their side as far as seeding goes (a 16 had never beaten a 1), the Hornets have proven the ability to force their opponents to play at their pace, which has put them in a position to win late.

Where Duke will be able to take advantage is inside behind Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph, both of whom played very well in Duke's ACC title run. With no Hornet standing taller than 6'9 and just one other player over 6'6 on the roster, Duke's inside tandem should be able to score and rebound without fail.

Duke is expected to get a lift when junior point guard Sean Dockery returns to the court after being sidelined with a strained MCL six games ago.

Meet the Hornets

F- Troy Roundtree (6'5, 225, SO) – Woefully undersized to defend bigger opponents, Roundtree makes his living by pulling opponents away from the basket and then driving, though he can hit the midrange jumper and has shown range out towards the perimeter (5-of-11 45% from three point range). Still, he's not an over powering presence and though he's relatively strong for his height, Roundtree isn't going to move bigger players off the blocks. Offensively he's usually the Hornets' fifth option on the floor, gathering most of his points on garbage buckets and stick backs.

Statistics: 5.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 44% FG, 68% FT

F- Terrance Hunter (6'7, 225, SR) – The lone returning starter for the Hornets, Hunter led the team in scoring as a junior and was the team's second leading rebounder --- numbers good enough for second team all-conference honors. Though he's listed as the team's power forward, Hunter is the best post answer Delaware State possesses. He has a good array of post moves and can hurt you when posting up or facing the basket. Despite his size, Hunter is not a terrific rebounder by any stretch, but understands positioning well enough of to pull in between five and seven boards on a good night.

Hunter is not afraid to pull the trigger on offense from anywhere on the court, though his jumper loses accuracy exponentially as he moves away from the paint. Defensively he's not been foul prone, and has blocked just more than one shot per game.

Statistics: 11.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 41% FG, 73% FT

F- Jahsha Bluntt (6'6, 220, SO) – The team's leading scorer and best perimeter threat, Bluntt lead the MEAC in three pointers made with 77, while connecting on nearly 40% of his long range attempts. With a prototypical body for a small forward and long arms, Bluntt is able to get his shot off relatively quickly and cleanly against smaller defenders. He can also drive when needed and is strong enough to finish at the basket.

On the season he has scored in double figures 28 times in 32 games, including a career high 21 points and nine rebounds against UMES in mid February. During the Hornets' slow start Bluntt wasn't putting in much time on the boards, but has remedied that in the later part of the season, averaging six rebounds per contest during the MEAC Tournament. Defensively he's solid, but isn't a lock down caliber type player on that side of the ball.

Statistics: 13.8 points 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 44% FG, 82% FT, 42% 3FG

G- Aaron Williams (6'2, 175, SR) – The team's sixth man a year ago, Williams spends his time splitting scoring and point guard responsibilities. Now playing full time starter minutes, Williams has increased his overall production in points (11.1), rebounds (3.9), assists (3.0), and steals (1.6). He's also improved his shooting percentages and is picking his spots more than he was as a reserve.

Though he's not going to be Delaware State's go-to-guy on offense, Williams will have the ball in his hands down the stretch in a tight game. Much like Duke's J.J. Redick, Williams is his team's finest free throw shooter and has made 10 or more free throws four times this season.

Statistics: 11.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 47% FG, 83% FT

G- Darrin Shine (5'9, 170, SO) – The sophomore point guard may not have much in the way of physical stature, but Shine is the team's best on the ball defender and will remind several of Oklahoma's Andrew Lavender. In the team's season opening game against Illinois, Shine held his own against the Illini's backcourt, scoring nine points and dishing out seven assists on the afternoon.

Since then he's been up and down, especially on the offensive end. However, he's picked up his game in March, averaging 12.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 12-of-23 from the floor in the four games this month.

Statistics: 6.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals, 42% FG, 69% FT

The Reserves

The Hornets run a normal rotation of eight players beginning with North Carolina native Aaron Fleetwood (6'9, 200, SO), a career back up who has just begun to figure things out on the collegiate level. The tallest player on the roster, Fleetwood still doesn't have the strength to push similarly tall players off the block, but has shown a nice touch around the rim and can finish at the rim with finesse. His length allows him to battle opponents and he's adept at altering and blocking shots. Bruce Davis (5'11, 175, SR) is the first guard reserve off the pine, and has spent the last two seasons as the Hornets' backup point guard. With a steady hand he's able to run the offense with few hiccups. Tracey Worley (6'3, 190, FR) provides scoring punch off the bench with a very accurate jumper.


Game Notes:
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

The game will be televised by CBS with Jim Nantz (play-by-play) and Billy Packer (color) calling the action.

- This will mark Duke's 29th NCAA Tournament appearance, a figure that ranks eighth all-time

- The No. 1 seed is the ninth overall for Duke, second-most in NCAA history. Duke also earned a top seed in 1986, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004

- In 2005, the Blue Devils are making their 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 21st in the last 22 seasons under Mike Krzyzewski

- Duke has advanced to the Sweet 16 seven consecutive seasons, the longest streak by any school in the nation (Kansas has the next-longest streak at four)

- Duke has won 20 or more games 40 times in its 100 years of basketball. Duke has won at least 20 games for nine consecutive seasons

- Since 1985, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has 64 NCAA Tournament victories, 29 more than the next-closest coaches (North Carolina's Roy Williams and Arizona's Lute Olson each have 35 NCAA wins during this period)


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