Duke (9-1) vs Xavier (9-0)
East Rutherford, N.J. - Izod Center
TV: CBS / Tip: 2:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: Atlantic 10 Nickname: Musketeers Colors: Blue, Silver and White Head Coach: Sean Miller (5th season) Career Record at Xavier: 102-39
Projected Starters: 5 Derrick Brown (6-6, 227, Jr.) – 14.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg 20 C.J. Anderson (6-6, 225, Sr.) – 11.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg 31 Jason Love (6-9, 255, Sr.) – 6.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg 11 B.J. Raymond (6-6, 226, Sr.) – 12.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg 25 Dante Jackson (6-5, 205, Fo.) – 8.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg Key Reserves: 22 Jamel McLean (6-8, 235, So.) – 6.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg 32 Kenny Frease (7-0, 265, Fr.) – 4.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg 12 Brad Redford (6-0, 170, Fr.) – 2.3 ppg 3 Brian Walsh (6-4, 185, Fr.) - 0.3 ppg
Storylines For Xavier:
How They Got Here:
An 11 day lay-off following the team's first loss of the season saw head coach Mike Krzyzewski juggle his lineup - starting all five reserves against UNC-Asheville in a 50 plus point victory.
Meanwhile Xavier has started 9-0 on the season with victories over Memphis, Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, and Missouri. Most recently the Musketeers jumped out to a 14-2 lead at Cincinnati on Saturday, December 13, on its way to a 39-25 halftime lead. UC closed to within three points with eight minutes left before Xavier pulled away for a 10 point victory. The 9-0 start is the second best in school history, and the best since the 1996-1997 season.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two programs. The Blue Devils have won all three previous meetings including two games in the NCAA Tournament - most recently a 66-63 victory in the Atlanta Regional Final in 2004. Overall the Blue Devils have played 100 games against teams from the Atlantic 10 - winning 73 of those contests.
The long layoff allowed Duke to continue to practice and to recoup. Most notable is the improved help of backup point guard Greg Paulus whose forearm injury continues to improve.
No Lead Is Safe Against Xavier:
The Musketeers have earned a reputation as "Comeback Kids" in the early portion of the season. Xavier trailed by 11 in the first half and four in the middle of the second half of the Miami (Ohio) win. At the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament, XU erased a seven-point second half deficit in the Missouri win and a 10-point second half deficit in the Virginia Tech overtime win. Even after falling behind by two with a couple seconds left in overtime versus Virginia Tech, Xavier found a way to win.
Musketeers Can Play Defense With The Best...
Much of Coach Miller's team's early season success has been based on the cornerstone of great defense. Taking advantage of a rotation that features several long and athletic players, the Musketeers have held the first nine opponents to a combined 35.7 percent shooting from the field. Only Missour has shot over 41% from the field against the Xavier defensive pressure. By comparison, a season ago the Xavier team that won 30 games averaged an allowed shooting percentage of 41.0 percent from the field.
Make Sure To Lookout For...
The wings led by junior Derrick Brown who has been playing at a high level (18.3 points on 59% shooting) over the last four games which goes along with 5.4 rebounds per game. Entering the season Brown had a career shot chart that included 50 percent of his attempts coming via the dunk. This year he's been able to get to the rim a lot as well, but has also expanded his game to include a better jump shot that has allowed Brown to extend his range to the perimeter where he's knocked down 11 shots this season. Brown is a preseason candidate for the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year trophy.
Fellow wing C.J. Anderson is coming off a double-double against Cincinnati (17 points and 11 rebounds) and a career best 22 points against Ohio University. A transfer from Manhattan College, Anderson was named the MVP of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off the second straight season he's earned MVP honors in a preseason season tournament. A third-team All-conference selection a season ago in which he scored in double figures 22 times including an 18 and 7 performance against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament victory over Purdue.
Scoring guard B.J. Raymond completes the scoring trio and has scored in double figures in four of the last five contests including a career best 32 points against Auburn in which he set a career high for three pointers (7-of-9) and total field goals (10-of-13). That performance earned him Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors.
Coach K said he was sending a message that Duke believes in its bench by starting the second team against UNC-Asheville. While that is no-doubt true it is likely that the Blue Devil head coach was sending another message to his starting five whose effort was questioned after the Michigan performance. That group will certainly need to bring a bit more against Xavier's roster of athletes and tough defensive pressure. Most likely you'll see Duke jump on Xavier early on before the Musketeers rally to make it a tight game down the stretch. At that point the Blue Devils will find out if all the experience on the roster is ready to take the next step in the team's development.