Preview: Duke (9-0) v. Albany (5-4)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Great Danes who will tip off on Monday afternoon at 7:00 PM EST. The game will be nationally televised by espn2 with Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Len Elmore (analyst) calling the action.


Duke (9-0) vs Albany (5-4)
Durham, NC - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 7:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference: America East Conference
Nickname: Great Danes
Colors: Purple and Gold
Head Coach: Will Brown (7th year)
Career Record at Albany: 81-97 (81-97 Overall)

Projected Starters:
21 Brian Lillis (6-5, 225, Sr.) – 13.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.2 apg
33 Brian Connelly  (6-8, 225, Jr.) – 10.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg
34 Brent Wilson (6-8, 240, Sr.) – 9.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg
14 Jon Iati (5-9, 175, Sr.) – 8.6 ppg, 1.9 apg
 3 Josh Martin (6-2, 200, Fr.) – 5.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg

Key Reserves:
 5 Jerel Hastings (6-5, 215, Jr.) – 4.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg
23 Tim Ambrose  (6-0, 220, Fr.) – 8.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg
54 Brett Gifford (6-11, 260, So.) – 2.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
42 Jimmie Covington (6-7, 245, Jr.) - 1.9 rpg, 2.4 rpg
55 Al Turley (6-7, 285, Fr.) - 1.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg

Storylines:

How They Got Here:
The Blue Devils enter Monday evening's game with the Great Danes having won nine straight games by an average of 24.7 points per game. In games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke has enjoyed an average margin of victory of 35.4 points per game. After beginning the season ranked No. 13, Duke is ranked sixth in the AP poll and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Blue Devils have been ranked in 209 of the last 211 AP polls.

Meanwhile the Great Danes have won five of their first nine games, but have lost three of their last four games on the season. Albany has not faced a ranked team this season.

Series History:
The Blue Devils and Great Danes have never met, but Duke is a perfect 9-0 all-time against teams from the America East Conference.

Injury Report: Sophomore forward Lance Thomas is listed as questionable for Monday's game and is not expected to play. If Thomas isn't able to go, it will be the first time this season he has not started a game. For the season Thomas is averaging 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game while shooting 57.1% from the field.

Great Danes Have Great Depth:
One thing Albany has is terrific depth to their rotation. In the nine games preceeding Monday's matchup, Coach Brown has nine players averaging more than 11.3 minutes per game with nobody topping 28.7 minutes per contest.

Contrasting Styles:
While the Blue Devils prefer to push the tempo and see a game in the mid-80s, the Great Danes are more content to score around 20 points less. Albany is scoring 65.4 points per game, while allowing just 59.2 points per contest.

Meet The Key Great Danes:
Albany's best player is versatile senior Brian Lillis, who has played all five positions during his time in the Albany program. Lillis has certainly had his share of success, earning America East Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2007, but now he's being asked to carry more of the offensive load. Through nine games he's responded positively by leading the team in scoring at 13.4 points per contest.

Big forward Brian Conolly has doubled his scoring average from a season ago while shooting 51% from the floor. That average would be even higher if it were not for his 55% success rate at the free throw line. Conolley will spend most of his time in the high post, but has show the ability to mix it up in the paint as well, averaging 7.8 rebounds per game in the last four.

Iowa native Brent Wilson has been the most consistent Albany player when measuring career stats - averaging double figures in each of the last two seasons. After connecting for 45% from behind the arc last season, Wilson has is now listed 20 pounds heavier as a senior, and while he's still a dangerous perimeter threat (39.2%), he's also improved his rebounding this year - including an 11 rebound performance against Siena on December 1st.

History Not On Albany's Side:
The Blue Devils have won a NCAA best 56 consecutive games against non-conference opponents in Cameron Indoor Stadium. On top of that Duke has won 35 consecutive games in the month of December, and hold a 39-1 overall record in that month since the 2000-2001 season.

Value The Basketball: A season ago the Blue Devils were among the worst teams in the ACC when it came to the assist to turnover ratio statistics. This season Duke leads the conference with a 1.15 to 1 ratio. Duke is averaging 16.7 assists per contest. On the otherhand Albany is averaging just 11.7 assists per game against 15.0 turnovers - a 1 to 1.3 assist to turnover ratio.

Coach K continues assault on wins list
Duke's victory over Michigan was Krzyzewski's 784th, good enough for eighth on the all-time list. Coach K has 784 wins overall and 711 as the head coach of Duke.

Notable Numbers:
Since 1997-1998 the Blue Devils are 120-4 against unranked opponents at home. Duke's bench is averaging 33.7 points per game through the first nine games of the season. Last year, the Blue Devil bench averaged 14.4 ppg. Duke has had 13 double-digit scoring games off the bench, including six by Jon Scheyer. Freshman Taylor King has led Duke in scoring in three of five home games and is averaging 17.4 points per game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. King is shooting 56.6 percent from the field (30-of-53) overall and 51.2 percent (21-of-41) from three-point distance at home this season. Senior DeMarcus Nelson has played in 99 career games and will be making his 100th appearance on the hardwood against Albany. He is also expected to make his 50th career start and has averaged 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds in his career. Duke is 78-21 in Nelson's 99 career games, including a 38-11 mark with him in the starting lineup. Duke has made 11 three-point field goals in each of the past four games. Overall the Blue Devils are 44-of-101 (.436) from behind the three-point arc during that stretch. Taylor King is 15-of-32 (.469) and Greg Paulus is 10-of-19 (.526) on treys in the last four games.

Prediction:

Duke 93
Albany 57


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