Preview: Duke (0-0) v. NCCU (0-0)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Eagles who tip off the 2007-2008 regular season on Friday in Cameron. The game will tip off at 7:00 and will only be available for viewing through ACCSelect's Internet broadcast.


Duke (0-0) vs North Carolina Central (0-0)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: N/A

Program Vitals
Conference: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Assoc.
Nickname: Eagles
Colors: Maroon & Gray
Head Coach: Henry Dickerson  (4th year)
Career Record at NC Central: 39-45 (111-118 Overall)

Projected Starters:
12 Bryan Ayala (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 9.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg
 3 J'Mell Walters (5-10, 170, Jr.) – 8.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg
 2 Marius Vaskys (6-9, 220, Fr.) – N/A
33 Tremain Halloway (6-5, 205, So.) – 1.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg
 0 Joshua Worthy (6-5, 205, So.) – 2.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg

Key Reserves:
 4 John Calvin Harris (6-2, 180, Fr.) – N/A
21 Vincent Davis (6-2, 175, Fr.) – N/A
23 Ashton Sauls (6-0, 165, Jr.) – N/A
32 Calvin Wright (6-7, 205, Fr.) - N/A

Storylines:

How They Got Here:
It's the season opener for both North Carolina Central and Duke. The Eagles will be embarking on their first season as a Division One Program after finishing their final year in Division II with just a 13-15 overall mark; while the Blue Devils are hoping to bounce back from what was the most disappointing seasons in more than 10 years.

Series History:
Friday night's game will be the first time the two programs have met in a regular season game. However, the two programs have met in each of the last two seasons during exhibition play.

Last Time They Met:
Duke cruised to a 29 point victory with five Blue Devils reaching double-figures. Most notably among that group was center Brian Zoubek who tallied 14 points, five rebounds, and two blocks in just 21 minutes of action before being disqualified with five fouls. Guards DeMarcus Nelson (14), Jon Scheyer (14), and Martynas Pocius (12) also reached double figures. Gerald Henderson added seven points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

The Eagles were led by now departed forward Drew Johnson who led all scorers with 21 points and five rebounds. Brian Ayala, the Eagles' lone returning starter from a year ago had a forgettable night with just three points, and five fouls with three turnovers and only one assist.

A New Year. Several New Faces:
Both Duke and Central will see freshmen play a key role in Friday night's game. The Blue Devils welcome three McDonalds All-Americans led by Oregon native Kyle Singler, who was the team's leading scorer throughout the preseason averaging 25.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals while missing just three shots in two games. Joining Singler are Oak Hill Academy product Nolan Smith and California sharpshooter Taylor King. All three players are expected to see significant time on the floor with Singler, and perhaps Smith getting a nod in the starting lineup.

The Eagles, meanwhile, return just one starter from last year's team and a total of four players overall. Coach Dickerson has added two junior college transfers to the roster in 6'2 Vincent Davis and 6'0 Ashton Sauls. In addition, Dickerson recruited five true freshmen in the class led by Lithuania native Marius Vaskys - the team's leading scorer (18 points) in the annual maroon and gray game. As with most international big men, Vaskys has elements of a wing player in his game and can shoot out to the three point line as well as handle the ball. Virginia product Calvin Wright (6'7 205) will be called on to help in the post as well.

Notable Numbers:
Duke usually doesn't struggle in season openers. The Blue Devils have won the opening game for the last seven years by a whopping 28.4 points per game. It's even harder to for a team to beat a Coach K squad in their first home game as Duke has won 25 straight home openers and is 26-1 all time under Coach K in such contests. This will be the 103rd season of Duke basketball with the program holding an all-time mark of 1,818-802. Should Coach K guide the Blue Devils to another 25 win season, he'll have earned his 800th win. Currently Coach K has 775 wins overall and 702 at Duke. The Blue Devils have also won an NCAA-best 51 consecutive games against non-conference opponents at home - which is still more than 40 games shy of the all-time school record (93) which was broken in 1995.

Prediction:

Duke 96
NC Central 58


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