Duke (17-3) vs Georgetown (15-4)
Washington, D.C. - Verizon Center
TV: CBS / Tip: 1:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: Big East Nickname: Hoyas Colors: Gray & Blue Head Coach: John Thompson III (6th season) Career Record at Florida State: 131-55
Projected Starters: 21 Jason Clark (6-2, 170, So.) – 10.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg 10 Greg Monroe (6-11, 250, So.) – 14.8. ppg, 10.1 rpg 22 Julian Vaughn (6-9, 250, Jr.) – 8.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg 15 Austin Freeman (6-3, 230, Jr.) – 16.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg 4 Chris Wright (6-1, 210, Jr.) - 14.6 ppg, 4.2 apg Key Reserves: 1 Hollis Thompson (6-7, 205, Fr.) – 3.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg 30 Henry Sims (6-11, 220, Fr.) – 2.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg 20 Jerrelle Benimon (6-7, 240, Fr.) – 1.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg 11 Vee Sanford (6-3, 180, Fr.) - 1.1 ppg
Story Lines For Georgetown:
How They Got Here:
The Hoyas raced out to an 8-0 overall record on the year before falling to Old Dominion in mid-December. Since that time Georgetown has posted a 7-4 mark over the last 11 games. The Hoyas have defeated Connecticut and Pittsburgh in the way of signature wins. Aside from losing to Old Dominion the Hoyas have also fallen at Marquette, at Villanova, and at Syracuse. Georgetown enters Saturday's game having won four of their last six games including a pair of victories over ranked opponents.
After suffering their worst loss of the season to NC State, the Blue Devils have responded with a pair of double figure victories over Clemson and Florida State.
Saturday's game will be the 14th time the two programs have met. In the previous 13 games the Blue Devils own a one game advantage in the head-to-head series at 7-6. All six of the wins by Georgetown have come in games played on their home court. This includes the last time the two programs played at Georgetown - an 87-84 Hoya win on Jan 19, 2006.
The Hoyas have an all-time record of 129-117 against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. This will be the only ACC team the Hoyas face this season after splitting games against Maryland and Duke a season ago.
Both teams enter Wednesday night's game relatively healthy. Duke senior forward Lance Thomas is listed as questionable for the game, but is expected to play.
Not Overly Deep
The Hoya starting five shoulders much of team's production on both ends of the floor. The starting five has remained the same throughout the team's 19 games so far this season. First year players are the primary reserves when Coach Thompson goes to his bench. Only freshman Hollis Thompson has appeared in all games this season off the bench - averaging 20.1 minutes per game in relief. Classmate Henry Sims is good for 8.7 minutes per game while Jerrelle Benimon has begun to see more and more minutes as conference play has begun, though he's appeared in just 14 games this season.
Still, Georgetown's starting five is scoring 64.4 of the team's 72.1 points per game or 89.3 percent. In addition the starting five have combined to play 78.8 percent of the team's minutes this season.
Such a heavy load being placed on so few is to be expected for a team with a roster devoid of senior leadership. Despite returning three starters from a season ago, the Hoyas have just five upperclassmen and are one of just 24 teams in the nation with five seniors or fewer.
You Seem Familiar:
Several members of the Georgetown roster will seem somewhat familiar to Duke fans for a number of reasons. Junior Julian Vaughn was recruited for a brief time as a member of the class of 2007, though Duke never extended an offer to the Oak Hill prospect. Vaughn played a year at Florida State where he averaged 3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game for Seminoles before transferring to Georgetown.
Another familiar face for Duke fans is sophomore big man Greg Monroe who was considered the Blue Devils' top target in the class of 2008. Despite Monroe's long flirtation, the talented forward committed to the Hoyas before visiting Duke.
A similar story followed the next year as the Blue Devils initially recruited Hollis Thompson, but he - like Monroe - committed to the Hoyas before making a trip to Durham and being able to receive an official offer.
Numbers To Watch:
If junior lead guard Chris Wright finds his scoring touch, the Hoyas will be tough to beat. The team is 14-0 on the season when the 6'1 junior scores in double figures. On the season he's averaging 14.6 points per night and is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. When, however, he's off the Hoyas have struggled. In the team's four losses he's scoring just 6.5 points per contest while shooting 9-of-33 (.272) from the field. Interestingly enough in those four games Wright has dished out 26 assists against just six turnovers. In short it's a case of the Hoyas needing another scoring threat on the offensive end. And when Wright isn't hitting the team doesn't appear to have the second string scoring option - or at least hasn't found them yet.
Another indicator of a game's outcome has been the performance at the charity stripe. In games the Hoyas have hit at least 70 percent of their free throws the team has gone 9-2. Similarly the Hoyas have posted 13 of their 15 victories when they have shot a higher percentage from the field than their opponents.
With an offense that's hit or miss, it's no wonder the Hoyas' success begins on the defensive end of the floor. The Hoyas rank third in the conference in scoring defense (62.0 ppg), sixth in field goal percentage defense (40.2%) and 10th in three-point field goal percentage defense (32.6%). Nationally the Hoyas are ranked No. 37 in the country in scoring defense (61.4 ppg) and No. 39 in field goal percentage defense (39.6%).
Watch Out For...
Sophomore Greg Monroe certainly broke Blue Devil hearts when he decided to head to the nation's capital. In his first match up against the Blue Devils the 6'11 Louisiana native was effective from the field, hitting 6-of-7 shots to finish with 12 points and six rebounds. However, Monroe was facing a much smaller Duke team that actually spent a fair amount of time with Kyle Singler matched up with him. It was a bad match up for Monroe as Singler took him outside and then to the basket to finish with 15 points and 16 rebounds while forcing the then freshman into foul trouble and thus limiting him to 28 minutes.
A year later Monroe has begun to live up to the hype and reputation that preceded him and made the Duke coaching staff so interested in bringing him into Durham. This year Monroe ranks 20th in the Big East in scoring with 14.8 points per game. He is also third in the league in rebounding, grabbing 10.1 boards per game. He has led the team in scoring six times this season, in rebounding 16 times and in assists seven times.
Currently he's coming off a big week that resulted in weekly honors from the Big East writers. Monroe averaged a double-double as the Hoyas won two conference games, beating No. 9 Pittsburgh on the road on Jan. 20, 74-66, and then winning at home over Rutgers on Jan. 23, 88-63. For the week, he averaged 17.0 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists and connected on 53.8 percent of his shots from the field.
Last season Duke was able to force the Hoyas to move their feet and try to guard the Blue Devils off the bounce. And, despite being undersized, Duke used a great game by Singler to win the battle of the boards against Georgetown. This season Duke is the bigger team and, arguably, the Hoyas have more ability to go off the bounce. Georgetown doesn't have a good match-up against Singler, but Duke will likely struggle to deal with Austin Freeman on the wing. Nolan Smith will likely be called on the check Chris Wright, leaving Jon Scheyer or Lance Thomas to deal with Freeman. If either of those can slow the talented junior down and Duke's wave of big guys can force Monroe into either foul trouble or an off night, the Devils can win this game. Otherwise, it's going to be tough to keep themselves unbeaten in games either at Cameron or in neutral sites (as the Verizon Center may be called).