Duke (1-0) vs New Mexico State (0-1)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: espn2 / Tip: 7:00
Program Vitals Conference: Western Athletic Conference Nickname: Aggies Colors: Maroon & White Head Coach: Marvin Menzies (1st year) Career Record at New Mexico State: 0-1 (0-1 Overall)
Projected Starters: 12 Fred Peete (6-4, 200, Sr.) – 9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg 1 Justin Hawkins (6-7, 205, Sr.) – 19.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg 32 Martin Iti (7-0, 240, Sr.) – 8.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg 31 Hatila Passos (6-9, 230, Sr.) – 7.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg 2 Jonathan Gibson (6-2, 180, So.) – 16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg Key Reserves: 10 Paris Carter (6-4, 225, Jr.) – 5.0 ppg 11 Chris Cole (6-1, 195, Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 4.0 apg 21 Wendell McKines (6-5, 228, Fr.) – N/A 55 Trei Steward (6-7, 245, Sr.) - 2.0 ppg
How They Got Here:
Coming off their most disappointing season in more than a decade - one in which they struggled mightily on the offensive end of the floor, the Blue Devils debuted a new offensive game plan in the exhibition season and the first regular season game. Despite the level of competition in those three games, the Blue Devils were impressive averaging 120.0 points per game, while surrendering just 51.7 a night. On Friday night in the season opener, Coach K had seven players reach double figures as the Blue Devils cruised to a 121-56 victory over North Carolina Central.
A year after compiling a 25-9 overall record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the Aggies return three starters and a rotation that includes seven upperclassmen. That experience will be beneficial as the Aggies are also adjusting to new coach Marvin Menzies. Menzies replaces Reggie Theus, also previously an assistant under Pitino at Louisville, who accepted the head coaching position with the Sacramento Kings. Coach Menzies' first collegiate head coaching experience was an 80-72 loss at Ohio University. The Bobcats put four players in double figures, but had to rally after the Aggies used a 22-11 run to take the lead with just over six minutes to go. Ohio closed the game on a 15-6 run.
The Blue Devils were picked to finish second in the ACC, while the Aggies were picked to finish second in the WAC by both the media and the coaches. Hawkins was named as first-team all-WAC.
Monday night's game will be the first time the Blue Devils and Aggies have met. The Blue Devils currently own a 3-0 all time record against teams playing in the Western Athletic complex.
Aggie Players Worth Noting:
The Aggies' starting lineup features a pair of big interior players in the form of 7'0 Martin Iti and 6'9 Hatila Passos. The two prefer to slow the game down and bang in the post. A season ago Iti blocked a team high 40 shots, while Passos converted over 63% of his field goal attempts on the offensive end while averaging 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds This summer Iti represented Australia at the 2007 World Unviersity Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
In the season opener the two controlled the middle for the Aggies on the defensive and rebounding fronts combining for 15 points and 15 rebounds, but only taking four shots apiece. The third forward position is manned by 6'7 Justin Hawkins who became the program's first player to earn All-District honors (NABC & USBWA) since James Moore in 2003. Hawkins averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in just over 32 minutes per night. He began his senior season in fine style, logging 19 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of action though he did also suffer seven turnovers. Off the bench the Aggies bring 6'7, 245lbs backup big forward Trei Steward.
NMSU also welcomes back lead guard Fred Peete who lead the team with 45 steals a season ago and tied for the most assists with 81. He also averaged 9.5 points per game. Against Ohio Peete struggled from the field (3-of-13 & 2-of-8 from the perimeter) to finish with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and four assists. He did, however, avoid any turnovers in 37 minutes of action.
Not Shy From The Perimieter:
If the season openers are any indication, neither team will hesitate to fire up a high volume of shots from the perimeter. Both teams took 28 shots from beyond the arc, but the conversion rate was heavily skewed in Duke's favor as the Blue Devils knocked down 16 to New Mexico State's six. Knowing his team's strength is not the three point shot, Coach Menzies hopes to take better shots in Cameron.
Our intention wasn't to take that many 3s," said Menzies. "They were sagging on our big guys and it gave the appearance that we were wide open, but they did a good job reaching out and challenging shots. Our philosophy is we want to challenge shots and we don't want to take any challenged shots. I'm OK with shooting 28 times as long as the right people are shooting, but not when they are contested."
Missing A Big Piece:
The Aggies are awaiting news on prized freshman Herb Pope's eligibility under NCAA rules, as is freshman guard Jahmar Young. Pope was rated a four star prospect by Scout a season ago and the number 34 overall player in the class of 2008.
This is the 103rd season of Duke basketball with the program holding an all-time mark of 1,819-802. Should Coach K guide the Blue Devils to another 25 win season, he'll have earned his 800th win. Currently Coach K has 776 wins overall and 703 at Duke. The Blue Devils have also won an NCAA-best 52 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.
New Mexico State 76