Duke (1-0) vs Georgia Southern (1-0)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPNU / Tip: 9:05 PM E
Program Vitals Conference: Southern Nickname: Eagles Colors: Blue and Gold Head Coach: Jeff Price (10th season) Career Record at Georgia Southern: 158-111 (292-151 overall)
Projected Starters: 50 Willie Powers (6-2, 200, So.) – 14.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg 10 Antonio Hanson (6-2, 175, Jr.) – 4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg 44 Trumaine Pearson (6-8, 230, Sr.) – 19.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg 45 Kenith Ward (6-6, 230, Sr.) – 2.0 ppg, 3.0 apg 24 Julian Allen (6-4, 215, Sr.) – 9.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg Key Reserves: 23 Sandy Perry (6-7, 220, Jr.) – 12.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg 3 Antoine Johnson (6-0, 190, Jr.) – 3.0 ppg, 4.0 apg 32 Anthony Marshall (6-5, 175, Sr.) – 2.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg 21 Tyler Troupe (6-7, 215, Jr.) - N/A 3.0 rpg
Storylines For Presbyterian:
How They Got Here:
Both teams advanced to the second round of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer by winning on Monday. The Eagles held off the Houston Cougars 65-63, while the Blue Devils cruised past Presbyterian 80-49. The Blue Devils are picked to finish second in the ACC by the media while Georgia Southern is tabbed to finish third in the Southern Conference.
This will be the second meeting between the two programs with the Blue Devils holding a 1-0 lead, winning 72-48 on November 13, 2006. In that game Duke outscored Georgia Southern 34-16 in the second half after the Bleu Devils fell behind by six early on and didn't take the lead until under six minutes remaining in the first half.
Georgia Southern Has Several New Faces:
The Eagles lost three key seniors – Louis Graham, Matthew Fields and Dwayne Foreman – from their 20-win team last year... The trio accounted for 1,121 of the team's 2,400 points (46.7%), 535 of 1,207 rebounds (44.3%), 254 of 493 assists (51.5%), 79 of 130 blocks (60.8%) and 123 of 290 steals (42.4%). Graham is the program's all-time leading shot blocker (207) and Foreman holds the school mark for career assists (538).
In all the Eagles have six new players in the rotation this year - three of which have jumped right into the rotation as key contributors. Three junior college transfers – Antonio Hanson, Sandy Perry and Tyler Troupe provide coach Price experience and physical maturity with Perry leading the way on opening night to the tune of 12 points and four rebounds. Of the three players, Hanson is known for his outside shooting ability while Troupe and Perry were recruited to fill some holes along the frontline.
Powers Takes Off
The team's top returning offensive threat is sophomore combo guard Willie Powers. After the team lost three seniors to graduation, Powers is the top returning scorer and was named to the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team after averaging 11.5 ppg in 2007-2008. Without the experienced help around him, Powers will be called upon to carry the load for the Eagles, but Coach Price worries about his start player feeling the pressure early on.
"He's still just a sophomore, even though he's coming off a good freshman year," said Price. "I want to see him let the game come to him and not try to do too much. Obviously we need his leadership and experience. My biggest concern with him is trying to do too much – he needs to just get in the flow and let the game come to him."
Others to Watch:
In addition to Perry and Powers, the Eagles feature a balanced attack on the wing with senior Julian Allen leading the way. Last year Allen came off the bench to average nearly eight points and five rebound per game while usually drawing one of the opposition's better defensive assignments. This season he's being called on to score a bit more, and though he struggled with his shot against Houston (3-of-9), he still managed to add seven rebounds including five on the offensive glass.
The man in the middle is big forward Trumaine Pearson, a 6-foot-8 athletic type who burst onto the scene this season with a big opening night of 19 points and 11 rebounds after averaging just nine minutes a season ago. Despite his strength inside, Pearson can also step outside and knock down the perimeter shot as he did against Houston (twice). Overall he's efficient and won't try to force the offense and the Cougars had no answer for him as Pearson finished 7-of-10 from the floor.
Defense, Defense, Defense:
The Eagles were downright thieves when it comes to play on the defensive end. A season ago GSU topped the Southern Conference and were 16th in the nation in steals per game with 9.06. The team recorded 10 steals or more 15 times and 14 or more four times including a season-high 17 steals and forced 27 turnovers in the 81-61 win over Chattanooga in February.
On Monday the Blue Devils started extremely cold from the field going the first five minutes with just four points before finding their range. Against the Eagles Duke will need to get more from Gerald Henderson on the wing on the offensive end, while continuing to play stingy defense. Look for Georgia Southern to make it a game for the first 10-12 minutes before Duke's depth and experience takes over and ultimately proves to be the difference.
Georgia Southern 55