Duke (5-0) vs Eastern Kentucky (2-2)
Durham, NC - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: Fox Sports South / Tip: 1:00
Program Vitals Conference: Ohio Valley Conference Nickname: Colonels Colors: Maroon/White Head Coach: Jeff Neubauer (2nd year) Career Record at Eastern Kentucky: 35-28 (35-28 Overall)
Projected Starters: 20 Mike Rose (6-4, 195, Jr.) – 12.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg 10 Adam Leonard (6-0, 190, So.) – 7.3 ppg, 2.5 apg, 2.5 spg 21 Darnell Dialls (6-8, 210, Sr.) – 8.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg 34 Jamaal Douglas (6-7, 235, Sr.) – 6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg 13 Harrison Brown (6-3, 190, Jr.) – 4.5 ppg, 1.0 rpg Key Reserves: 22 Josh Daniel (6-5, 205, So.) – 9.8 ppg 24 Josh Taylor (6-7, 220, So.) – 8.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg 31 Justin Stommes (6-7, 195, Fr.) – 1.8 ppg 44 Ryan Wiersma (6-6, 215, Jr.) - 3.8 rpg
How They Got Here:
The Blue Devils enter Sunday afternoon's game with Eastern Kentucky riding high after tearing through the field at the annual Maui Invitational. Duke easily dispatched Princeton and Illinois before beating top-10 opponent Marquette in the championship game behind 25 points from freshman Kyle Singler. The Colonels, meanwhile, make the trip to Cameron on the heels of a two game losing streak. After winning their first two games of the season, EKU has dropped games to East Tennessee State and UAB by an average of 17.0 points per game.
Sunday afternoon's game between Eastern Kentucky and Duke will mark the first time the teams have met. Duke currently holds a 2-0 all-time record against teams from the Ohio Valley conference beating Murray State 71-68 in March of 1997 and then Tennessee Martin 88-46 in November of 2004. EKU is 11-26 all-time against teams in the ACC, losing most recently to North Carolina (86-65) in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Colonels Can't Find Offense:
Eastern Kentucky knows to have a chance at the upset of the season, they will need to put together a tremendous offensive performance. So far the Colonels have shown not indication they are capable of scoring enough points to defeat Duke. Through four games EKU is scoring just 60.0 points per game, and have topped the 56 point mark just once (in the seasoning opening win against West Virginia Wesleyan). Only one starter is scoring in double figures (wing guard Mike Rose at 12.0 ppg), while five players average between 6.0 and 9.8 points per game.
It gets worse on the road where Eastern is averaging just 53.0 points per game while shooting 34.0% from the field and a paltry 26.7% from the perimeter.
There are no such offensive woes for Duke at this point in time. The Blue Devils' offense has returned to a more balanced style, while scoring 89.2 points per contest. The Blue Devils have four players averaging double figures led by freshman Kyle Singler (15.8). In addition Duke has another six players averaging between 5.0 and 8.0 points per game. In addition Duke is shooting a sizzling 51.1% from the floor and 41.6% from the perimeter this season.
Who To Watch For Eastern Kentucky:
Last season the Colonels pushed their way into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Ohio Valley tournament. Preseason predictions have EKU picked to make a second consecutive trip to March Madness thanks to the return of leading scorer Mike Rose. So far Rose has struggled with his offensive game, hitting just 27% from the perimeter (down from 41% a season ago). Fellow returning backcourt starter Adam Leonard is also struggling to adjust to the new season seeing his averages drop from 13 points and 3 assists to just 7.3 points per night. Leonard's scoring decline is due to a striking inability to get to the free throw line (zero attempts through four games) where he's an 85% shooter. Defensively, Leonard is the team's best on the ball option, swiping 10 steals through four games. He's also managed a 2.2/1 assist to turnover ratio.
After anchoring the post a season ago with nine points and five rebounds per game, Illinois product Darnell Dialls has continued his steady play and has upped his rebound total by nearly 1.5 per game. The major hole in Dialls' game is the free throw line where he's converting just 50% of his attempts. Tipping the scales at just 210 pounds, Dialls relies on speed and quickness to produce in the paint, while fellow frontcourt starter Jamaal Douglas uses an additional 25 pounds to power his way around the middle - a marked improvement from a season ago when he was listed at 260lbs. Both Douglas and Dialls are averaging 2.5 or more assists per game. Reserve forward Ryan Wiersma, who has battled injuries through his first four seasons, returns as a red-shirt junior and the primary post sub. In four games he's contributed nearly four rebounds a night in just 11.0 minutes of action.
The bench has provided some scoring punch for Coach Neubauer's team in the form of Josh Daniel and Josh Taylor. Though neither has earned a starting nod, Daniel is the team's second leading scorer at 9.8 points per game while Taylor is ranked third at 8.8 ppg. Neither player is shy about hoisting up perimeter attempts - combining for 35 attempts (12 conversions) from behind the arc in four appearances. Taylor's biggest downfall has been an inability to stay out of foul trouble - committing a team worst 14 fouls to date.
Jetlag & Lots of Turkey:
The Blue Devils will aim to stay sharp after playing three games in three days in Maui before flying several thousand miles home and celebrating Thanksgiving. With so many young players factoring into Duke's early season success, head coach Mike Krzyzewski's scheduling plan appears to be a test for his young group. Shortly after the Blue Devils finish their game against the Colonels, it will be back to business on Tuesday night as Wisconsin comes calling in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge.
Coach K continues assault on wins list
Duke's victory over Marquette was Krzyzewski's 780th, moving him ahead him with former Illinois and New Mexico State coach Lou Henson for eighth on the all-time list. Coach K has 780 wins overall and 707 as the head coach of Duke.
Duke has won 53 consecutive home games against non-conference opponents - the nation's best active streak. Duke has posted a record of 183-3 (.984) against non-conference foes in their last 186 games in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Under Coach K the Blue Devils are 86-10 in the month of November including 37-2 since the 2000-2001 season. Since 1997-1998 the Blue Devils are 117-4 against unranked opponents at home.
Eastern Kentucky 55