Preview: Duke (4-0) v. Marquette (4-0)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Golden Eagles who tip off in tonight's championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The game will be nationally televised beginning at 10:00 PM EST.


Duke (4-0) vs Marquette (4-0)
Maui, Hawaii - Lahaina Civic Center
TV: ESPN / Tip: 10:00

Program Vitals
Conference: Big East
Nickname: Golden Eagles
Colors: Navy/Gold/White
Head Coach: Tom Crean  (8th year)
Career Record at Marquette: 165-86 (165-86 Overall)

Projected Starters:
 1 Dominic James (5-11, 185, Jr.) – 13.5 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.8 spg
22 Jerel McNeal  (6-3, 200, Jr.) – 17.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.0 spg
32 Lazar Hayward (6-6, 225, So.) – 11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
12 Dwight Burke (6-8, 250, Jr.) – 4.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg
23 Wesley Matthews (6-5, 215, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg

Key Reserves:
32 David Cubilian (6-3, 205, Fr.) – 10.5 ppg
25 Dan Fitzgerald (6-5, 200, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg
54 Ousmane Barro (7-1, 215, Fr.) – 3.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg
22 Maurice Acker (6-5, 220, Fr.) - 2.5 ppg

Storylines:

How They Got Here:
Duke moved into the finals by dispatching Princeton (83-61) and Illinois (79-66) on back to back nights. The Blue Devils have now won all 11 of their games played in Maui. Meanwhile the Golden Eagles struggled through a sluggish performance in their opener, beating Chaminade 74-63. Marquette rebounded in a big way on Tuesday night, however, beating Oklahoma State in every facet of the game en route to an easy 91-61 final score.

Series History:
Wednesday night's game will be the seventh time the Blue Devils and Illini have met. The Blue Devils own a 4-2 advantage in the previous six meetings, but the Golden Eagles have the latest bragging rights after last year's 73-62 victory over Duke in the finals of the CBE Classic in Memphis, Tenn.

In that game Marquette got a game high 25 points from Dominic James, who also added seven assists, and 17 more points from Jerel McNeal as the Golden Eagles pulled away in the second half. Duke will hope for a better performance from point guard Greg Paulus who logged just two assists against six turnovers in 32 minutes last season. As a team Duke turned the ball over 19 times and shot just 37.7% from the field, while the Eagles hit 45.8% of their attempts from the field.

A Top Flight Backcourt Awaits Duke:
The Blue Devils found out first hand just how good Tom Crean's group of guards were last year when James, Matthews, and McNeal combined for 50 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, and 8 steals while Duke's trio of Greg Paulus, DeMarcus Nelson, and Jon Scheyer managed just 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists (12 turnovers), and four steals. Since that time the teams have another year under their belts, and while the Golden Eagles are still heavily relying on their fabulous trio, the Blue Devils have added several new players to the fold in the backcourt equation.

The most notable is sophomore wing guard Gerald Henderson who logged just five minutes a season ago and failed to score. A year later the 6'5 Henderson is arguably the team's most talented player and most dangerous offensive threat. In addition, Duke finally has the luxury of a healthy Greg Paulus, who battled foot problems all last season. Paulus has responded this year by taking better care of the ball (5.0 apg v. 1.8 TOpg). Scheyer is back as well, averaging 13.0 points, while freshman Nolan Smith is adding 14.5 minutes a night off the bench.

If The Bigs Come Through....:
Nobody doubts the ability of the Marquette backcourt, but there are questions surrounding the frontcourt players for Coach Crean's team. Senior Ousmae Burro, a starter a year ago, has been moved to the bench as the first interior sub in favor of sophomore Lazar Hayward (6'6, 225), and junior Dwight Burke (6'8, 250). Hayward added nearly 15lbs to his frame in the offseason to become a better rebounder, and is hoping to improve his perimeter shooting after failing to knock down an attempt in his first four games. Burke entered the college level as a project at nearly 275lbs and a hair under 6'8. Since that time he's committed to a conditioning program that has put him in a position to contribute after two seasons. Burke's role is best described as blue collar - someone who will battle inside, box out and help where he can on the defensive end - however don't expect substantial numbers from him. Off the bench the Eagles will bring Barro, a 6'10 native of Senegal who is averaging career highs in points (8.1) and rebounds (6.9) on the young season. Against Oklahoma State, Barro had 5 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in just 18 minutes.

Fatigue Will Be A Factor:
Both teams will be playing their third game in three days and will have to overcome tired legs as well as their opponents. The Blue Devils, who are known for playing a shorter rotation, have departed from that approach in their four games this season by playing 10 players at least 9.7 minutes per game, and no one player seeing more than 26.5 minutes per game. The Golden Eagles are using a similar strategy, playing nine players 11.5 minutes or more per night, with nobody playing more than 29.3 minutes per game."

Controlling the Boards Is Crucial:
Each team has looked good and bad in the rebounding department during their stay in Maui. Against Chaminade the Eagles were out-rebounded 41-30 overall and 16-8 on the offensive end, allowing the Silverswords a chance to hang around for most of the game. Coach Crean corrected that in the second game against Oklahoma State, imploring his team to crash the boards over and over. It worked as Marquette won the rebounding war 36-28 over the much taller Cowboys.

On the other hand Duke overwhelmed Princeton on the glass in the opener (42-22), led by Kyle Singler's 12 overall rebounds and nine offensive. However, in the game against Illinois the Blue Devils fell victim to 31 second chance points and the Illini used 19 offensive rebounds and an overall 37-27 advantage to compete despite shooting 32.3% from the field.

Maui Wowee
The Blue Devils have never lost a game in the Maui Invitational, posting a perfect 11-0 record in Hawaii, winning the tournament title in 1992, 1997, and 2001. In those eleven games, Duke has enjoyed a 19.8 margin of victory.

Notable Numbers:
This is the 103rd season of Duke basketball with the program holding an all-time mark of 1,822-802. Should Coach K guide the Blue Devils to another 25 win season, he'll have earned his 800th win. Currently Coach K has 779 wins overall and 706 at Duke.

Prediction:

Duke 81
Marquette 84


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