Preview: Duke (3-0) v. S. Illinois (2-0)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Salukies who tip off on Thursday night in New York City's Madison Square Garden in the semi-final round of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. The game will be broadcast live by ESPN2 beginning at 7:00 PM.

Duke (3-0) vs Southern Illinois (2-0)
New York, N.Y. - Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 7:00 PM E

Program Vitals
Conference: MVC
Nickname: Salukies
Colors: Blue and Gold
Head Coach: Chris Lowery (5th season)
Career Record at Southern Illinois: 98-41

Projected Starters:
35 Tony Boyle (6-8, 235, Sr.) – 7.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
45 Carlton Fay (6-8, 225, So.) – 16.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg
10 Bryan Mullins (6-1, 185, Sr.) – 11.5 ppg, 10.5 apg
24 Wesley Clemmons (6-3, 195, Sr.) – 9.5 ppg, 1.5 apg
31 Torres Roundtree (6-4, 185, Fr.) – 1.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg

Key Reserves:
 1 Kevin Dillard (6-0, 160, Fr.) – 11.5 ppg, 7.5 apg
55 Nick Evans (6-11, 245, Fr.) – 6.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
22 Anthony Brooker (6-8, 230, Fr.) – 3.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg
23 Justin Bocot (6-4, 175, So.) - 2.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Storylines For Southern Illinois:

How They Got Here:
Both teams advanced to the semi-final round of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer by winning their regional events. The Salukies beat California (Pa.) 66-52 before dispatching UMass 80-73. The Blue Devils defeated Georgia Southern by 43 before running into a very game Rhode Island team and being forced to rally for an 82-79 victory.

Series History:
This will be the fourth meeting between the Blue Devils and Salukies and the second time the two have met in the Garden. Southern Illinois earned their only victory in the series by winning at MSG during the 1967 season. Most recently the two met in the 1993 NCAA Tournament where Duke won 105-70.

Injury Report:
Duke point guard Greg Paulus continues to rehab from an injury to his right forearm.

Many New Faces For Southern Illinois:
The Salukies lost two starters and five rotational players from last year's team. All told SIU is being forced to replace nearly two thirds of their scoring (64%) and rebounding (60%) totals from the 2007-2008 season.

In all Southern Illinois has eight new faces on the NCAA allowed 13 man roster including Iowa transfer Tony Freeman who is sitting out this season. The most decorated new-comer is freshman and 2008 Illinois Mr. Basketball winner Kevin Dillard who has accounted for 11.5 points, 7.5 assists, and 42.5 percent from behind the arc in 28.5 minutes per game. Of course the Blue Devils know a thing or two about recruiting Mr. Basketballs from Illinois having landed Shaun Livingston in 2004 and now Jon Scheyer (2006).

Joining Dillard in the "most noticeable new comers" category is freshman big man Nick Evans, a 6-foot-11, 245lbs player from Carbondale, Ill. Evans is your typical midwest farm kid having grown up on an 280 acre farm in Bridgeport, Illinois, a town of 2,300 located near the Indiana border. Evans was home schooled by his mother who is currently attending SIU as a teaching major. Evans arrival on campus was a marked departure from recent recruiting trends as the program had not recruited a player taller than 6'10 since the 1996 season.

Make Sure To Lookout For...
Senior guard Bryan Mullins who has been named to the MVC's preseason all-conference team. Mullins, who is the reigning MVC Defensive Player of the Year, led the conference in steals a season ago and has transitioned into more of a lead guard this season by averaging 10.5 assists in two games. Against the Minutemen he tied the program's single game record for assists with 13.

Duke fans will also want to take note of sophomore power forward Carlton Fay who has been the team's high scorer in each for the first two games, averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest. Nicknamed "Big Country" because he comes from a small county that doesn't have any fast food restaurants, Fay has been able to post his numbers in just 22.0 minutes per contest for SIU.

Off the bench Duke will see a balanced attack that accounted for 31 points in the season opener against California (Pa.).

Contrasting Styles of Play:
Don't be surprised if this game isn't a high scoring track meet. The Salukies are known for their defense and deliberate style of play on the offensive end. That being said, SIU showed the ability to get up and down the court against the Minutemen by scoring 52 second half points. It was first time the team had scored more than 50 points in a half since the 2005-2006 season.

That style may not make for very many highlights but it does make for a lot of success. The Salukies have played post season basketball in each of the last seven seasons. Last season, however, SIU saw it's streak of six consecutive NCAA bids snapped as they settled for a place in the NIT.

Fearless Predicitions

If Duke was looking ahead to New York, then it nearly cost them as Rhode Island spent most of Sunday's game with a comfortable lead behind incredible shooting from the perimeter. The Blue Devils managed to rally for the win, but the game likely provided Mike Krzyzewski several items to work on before heading to the Big Apple. Look for Duke to continue to focus on the defensive side of the ball and to make a conscience effort to get Gerald Henderson involved on the offensive side of the ball. Coach K's team will want to force a more up-tempo style while SIU would prefer a slower pace. Look for Duke to have a battle on its hands, but to pull it out down the stretch


Duke 74
Southern Illinois 62

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