Duke (6-1) vs St. John's (6-0)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 3:30 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: Big East Nickname: Red Storm Colors: Red & White Head Coach: Norm Roberts (6th season) Career Record at SJU: 70-85
Projected Starters: 1 D.J. Kennedy (6-5, 215, Jr.) – 17.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg 5 Sean Evans (6-8, 255, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg 24 Justin Burrell (6-8, 235, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg 23 Paris Horne (6-3, 191, Jr.) – 7.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg 3 Malik Boothe (5-9, 188, Jr.) - 4.8 ppg, 2.3 apg Key Reserves: 11 Omari Lawrence (6-4, 209, Fr.) – 3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg 12 Dwight Hardy (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 10.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg 32 Justin Brownlee (6-7, 235, Jr.) – 8.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Story Lines For St. John's:
How They Got Here:
The Red Storm enter Cameron Indoor Stadium sporting a perfect 6-0 record. It's the first time SJU has started with half a dozen wins in a row since the 1994-1995 season when head coach Brian Mahoney led the Red Storm to a seven-game streak to start the year. St. John's has two win streaks of five or better during the Norm Roberts Era, one seven-game stretch that began four games into 2008-09 and one seven-gamer early in the 2006-07 season.
On the flip side the Blue Devils enter Saturday's game looking to rebound off a poor performance that resulted in the program's first ever loss in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. A couple of bright spots for the Blue Devils were Kyle Singler's career high 28 points and freshman Andre Dawkins' 4-for-4 shooting performance that allowed the team to make a game of it down the stretch.
St. John's and Duke square off for the 12th-straight season, having met each year since 1998-99, with the series is set to continue until 2014. Duke leads 13-5 in the all-time series and is 1-4 at home. The Red Storm's last victory over the Blue Devils came on March 2, 2003, at Madison Square Garden. St. John's only win at Cameron in the series was over No. 2 Duke on Feb. 26, 2000.
Duke has won a national-leading 72 non-conference games at home since that loss to the Red Storm.
Duke freshman Mason Plumlee made his season debut against Wisconsin - playing limited minutes as he continues to rehab his broken left wrist.
St.John's is eagerly awaiting the return of fifth year senior forward Anthony Mason, Jr. who is rehabbing a hamstring injury which has kept him off the floor for the entire season to date. Likewise the Red Storm is hoping to soon welcome back red shirt junior Rob Thomas who has been sidelined with a groin injury through the first six games. All told the two players combined for 21.1 points and 7.4 rebounds a season ago.
Step Up In Competition Coming
The Red Storm have won six games so far this season, but none of the contests have featured an opponent ranked anywhere close to the top 25. That'll change as they face top 10 Duke. To date the Red Storm have beaten LIU (by 13) St. Bonaventure (by 1), Brown (by three), Siena (by nine), Temple (by seven), and Stony Brook (by eight).
Road Wins A Bit Scarce For Storm:
ncluding St. John's win over St. Bonaventure in Rochester, N.Y., (Nov. 17, 2009), the Red Storm owns nine road victories since the dawn of the Norm Roberts Era, with one this season, one in 2008-09 and three coming in the 2007-08 season. The 69-68 win over St. Bonaventure, came in the game's final seconds as junior point guard Malik Boothe sank a pair of free throws to give the Red Storm its final advantage.
St. John's returns 97.2 percent of its scoring and 95.1 percent of its rebounding and features seven juniors who logged major time last year. Ateamcomprisedofmainlyunderclassman and made even younger by a wrath of injuries, St. John's core of sophomores rose to the occasion. For their efforts, second-year guards Paris Horne and D.J. Kennedy were named to the 2009 All-Met first team by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA).
Watch Out For:
Junior guard Paris Horne, who netted a team-best 14.6 ppg last season, has been somewhat quiet this year. He started the season off strongly enough scoring 12 and 15 points in his first two contests, but over the last four games he's managed just 17 points combined while shooting just 7-of-26 (.269) from the field and missing his last nine perimeter shots.
Without Horne hitting his stride, the Red Storm has looked to forward D.J. Kennedy who is the team's leading scorer. Leading the team in statistical categories is nothing new for Kennedy who led the team in in minutes played (34.6 per game), free throws made (187), free throws attempted (187) and defensive rebounds (167, 4.9 per game), and also being counted among the team leaders in points (second, 441), scoring average (third, 13.0 ppg), rebounds (second, 226, 6.6 per game), steals (second, 52), assists (second, 101, 3.0 per game), field goals made (third, 134), field goals attempted (second, 333), 3-point percentage (third, .333), 3-pointers made (second, 36), 3-pointers attempted (second, 108) and free throw percentage (third, .733). A season ago Duke had trouble with the bouncy wing as he torched the Blue Devils for 20 points and nine rebounds.
Inside the Red Storm will turn to Sean Evans, a bruising big forward with a soft touch and a good level of athleticism. He's one of two players to start every game last year. Against the Blue Devils a year ago he managed 15 points and five rebounds.
The game against Wisconsin exposed some pretty significant issues for Duke. The inside game was a mismatch for much of the first half and a great performance from a strong bodied guard left the Blue Devils battered. And, while Kyle Singler was brilliant on the offensive end, he didn't get a lot of help until the end of the game when Andre Dawkins began figuring in the offense more and more. It may have been one game, but Dawkins looked like Duke's best backcourt scoring option as Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith struggled mightily and seemed to press more than usual. The Blue Devil bench, which had been so productive to date, was a non-factor against the Badgers with only Dawkins logging any scoring off the pine. Such a lack of production led Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to play his starters early and often. It's a scary trend for a team with just three scholarship guards.
This time around look for Duke to look to get more intensity on the defensive end of the floor which should provide a spark for transition baskets. Forcing Duke into the half court proved to be a wise move for the Badgers as the Blue Devils' lack of a quick, penetrating lead guard spelled doom. St. John's has enough athletes to make it interesting, but the streak of non-conference victories at home should continue
St. John's 61