Duke (21-7, 8-6) @ St. John's (15-13, 6-9)
New York, N.Y. - Madison Square Garden
2:00 p.m., CBS
Program Vitals Conference: Big East Conference Nickname: Red Storm Colors: Red & White Head Coach: Norm Roberts (3rd year) Career Record at St. John's: 36-46
Projected Starters: 3 Daryll Hill (6-0, 170, Sr.) - 6.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.2 apg 4 Eugene Lawrence (6-1, 220, Jr.) – 7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.2 apg 34 Lamont Hamilton (6-10, 240, Sr.) – 13.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg 2 Anthony Mason, Jr (6-7, 205, So.) – 11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg 15 Avery Patterson (6-4, 200, Jr.) – 10.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg Key Reserves: 1 Qa'rraan Calhoun (6-8, 220, Fr.) - 5.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg 40 Aaron Spears (6-10, 260, Sr.) – 4.0 ppg, 2.6 5 Larry Wright (6-2, 165, Fr.) – 3.8 ppg 22 Ricky Torres (6-5, 220, So.) – 2.3 ppg
How They Got Here:
Duke has rebounded from its longest losing streak in more than a decade with three straight wins over Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Clemson. The Blue Devils have assured themselves of a place in the NCAA Tournament field, and sit with an overall record of 21-7. Meanwhile, the Red Storm are in search of their first winning season under third year head coach Norm Roberts. After winning two of their first three games in February, the Red Storm have dropped three of their last four including an embarrassing 24 point drubbing at the hands of Louisville on Wednesday night.
Sunday afternoon's game will mark the 16th time the Blue Devils and Red Storm have met with Duke holding a 10-5 series advantage. The Blue Devils have won five of the seven match ups this decade, but it hasn't been easy. The Red Storm defeated Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium 83-82 on February 26th, 2000, and again at home on March 2, 2003. In the two games since, Duke has won by 58-47 (2/26/05), and 70-57 (12/21/05) margins.
It'll Probably Be Ugly:
It seems as though every time the two programs meet the game is physical and lacks offensive flow. That has certainly proven true in the previous two match ups where the teams combined to average 35.0 personal fouls, and 35.0 turnovers, while shooting just 38.4 percent from the field.
Big Men Leads The Way For SJU:
Senior big man Lamont Hamilton has been the most consistent player for Coach Roberts' team in 2006-2007. The preseason All-Conference selection is averaging 13.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game on the year, ranking among the Big East leaders in those categories at T-17th and 16th, respectively. He leads the Red Storm with 17 career double-doubles, but has not logged double figure rebounds in nearly a month.
Front court running mate Anthony Mason, Jr may be the most electrifying member of the Red Storm roster, and he's gotten better since being injured. After dislocating his finger against Cincinnati on February 4th, the sophomore is averaging 14.0 ppg and 4.8 rpg while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from long range. When his finger popped in the first half, Mason went to the sideline and had it put back into place before returning to action with his finger splinted and taped together, scoring seven second half points and three second half rebounds en route to game totals of nine points and six boards. He drilled a 3, converted a fast-break layup and sunk two free throws in the game's final 2:19 to help St. John's earn the win.
Lawrence Is A Power Point:
Built like an NFL tailback, Eugene Lawrence (6'1, 220lbs) has no trouble competing against anyone. The junior team captain is averaging 7.7 points, 5.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, including 9.6 points and 5.2 assists in the last 10 games while shooting .463 from the field and .511 from 3-point range.
When Roberts took over the St. John's program the first order of business was to increase the overall talent level on the roster. With such a fertile recruiting base in the New York/New Jersey area, Roberts has started to do just that. The best addition has been New Jersey native Qa'rraan Calhoun, a 6'8 combo forward that can hurt opponents either inside or outside. He scored a career-high 18 at Cincinnati (Feb. 4) in the first of five-straight starts. Over that stretch he has contributed 10.2 ppg, 5.4 rebounds and has averaged 31.0 minutes.
While much as been made of Duke's lack of offensive prowess this season, not much has been made of the historical effort on the defensive end. Through 28 games the Blue Devils are allowing just 59.4 points per game - the only time in the program's post 1951 history opponents have failed to average fewer than 60.0 points per game and a full 3.8 points per game better than they school record of 63.2 points per game allowed by the 1959-1960 Blue Devils. Similarly Duke's three point field goal defense (opponents are shooting just 29.9% from the perimeter) is ranked as the third best mark in school history while the overall field goal percentage defense (41.1%) is tied for the fourth best mark in program history.
St. John's 57