Hoops Preview - Duke

Now with two heartbreaking losses in a row to Nevada and Marquette, the Washington Huskies' (4-3) task won't be any easier as it takes on the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils (8-1). The game is set for 9 a.m. PT on Saturday and will be aired nationally on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In what will be part two of the Huskies two-game series at Madison Square Garden, Duke, on the other hand, will be in and out as the Blue Devils played Colorado State at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. Saturday's game is also game one of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Classic.

An upperclass-laden team, Duke has beaten Belmont, Presbyterian, Michigan State, Davidson, Tennessee, Michigan, Kansas and Colorado State while only losing at No. 2 Ohio State.

Despite being a freshman on a team filled with mainly juniors, Austin Rivers has stepped in and found immediate success. A 6-foot-4 guard out of Winter Park, Fla., Rivers is averaging 15.6 points per game on 45 percent shoot from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc. He also contributes 2.2 assists and a steal per game. The highly-touted guard - whose father is Doc Rivers - will pose a problem for UW guards as he averages 11.4 free throw attempts per game and 71 attempts on the season, putting him at No. 71 in the country.

Also starting in the backcourt will be Seth Curry, the son of Dell and brother of Stephen. The 6-foot-2 Charlotte, N.C., native has the same shooting touch that runs in his family, averaging 13.1 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field, 46 percent from 3-point territory and 93 percent from the free-throw line. The remarkably high free-throw percentage puts him at No. 21 in the country. Beyond his shooting accolades, Curry contributes 3.3 assists, three rebounds and 1.4 steals per contest.

With Rivers and Curry handling the guard duties, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be taking care of the dirty duty down in the paint. Plumlee is a 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward. The Warsaw, Ind., native is averaging 12.2 points on 65 percent shooting, 9.8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. Although he defensive rebound percentage of 29.3, No. 9 in the country, his most impressive stat involves getting to the free-throw line. With a free-throw rate of 76.4 percent, he has the No. 35 percentage in the country, potentially meaning foul trouble for the Huskies Aziz N'Diaye and Darnell Gant. Luckily for his opponents, he only averages 42 percent from the charity stripe.

Starting alongside Plumlee will be Kelly, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward. Although he hadn't played a big role in his first two years, he is averaging 12.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting this year. He is pulling in 4.2 rebounds per contest.

As a team, Duke ranks highly in several categories, the most dangerous being what the Blue Devils do on offense. The most evident of this is their team field goal percentage (50 percent and No. 11 in the country), 3-point percentage (42 percent and No. 18 in the country) and point per possession (1.12 and No. 34 in the country). One other category to keep an eye on will be free throw attempts, where Duke is No. 16 in the country with 242 opportunities.

As for the Huskies defensive chances, the only thing that really hasn't been in Duke's favor is getting rejected, as they average 2.2 blocks a game, No. 30 in the nation. In terms of fouls, don't expect that to be much of a problem for Duke, as they are only averaging 16.9 fouls a game and have only had two players foul out this season.

Behind the players and stats is legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Over his 31 years at the helm of Duke, Krzyzewski has become the all-time winningest coach in division one history with 835 wins (908 total with 73 coming from Army). During that time, Krzyzewski has four national titles and has been to every NCAA tournament except for the 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83 and 1994-95 seasons. Remarkably enough, every game Washington has had against Duke, the 64-year-old Krzyzewski was there for. The first of which was in 1984, when the Huskies beat Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament 80-78.

However, the one win was the only one for the Huskies, as Duke went on to beat Washington in 1985 (59-71), 1989 (61-87) and 1990 (64-74).


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