Duke (10-2) – Elon (7-6) Preview
Randy Dunson & Brian Horace
December 31, 2013
Elon University and the Duke University men’s basketball teams close the 2013 calendar year on Tuesday, December 31, when the Phoenix hosts the seventh-ranked Blue Devils at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Phoenix and Blue Devils are no strangers heading into Tuesday’s game, which marks the 26th all-time meeting between the two schools. Duke leads the all-time series, 18-7, following last year’s 76-54 win on December 20 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tuesday is the third time Elon and Duke have met since Elon moved to the Division I ranks. Tuesday is the fifth time the two schools have met since Trinity became Duke. Coach Matt Matheny, in his fifth season with Elon and the 2013 Southern Conference Coach of the Year, returns all eight players who averaged at least ten MPG last season and when the starters need a break, there will be plenty of options. With a team that has been picked to win the Southern Conference (SoCon) and proclaimed to be one of the best in school history, anything less than competing down the stretch will be a letdown for Elon. The Phoenix proved it can hang in there with the big boys, taking Big East power Georgetown University to the wire before falling, 85-76. However, Duke will be the biggest challenge that Matt Matheny’s team has faced thus far and pending possible postseason opponents, the toughest one it will go up against this season.
Team Season Thus Far
The Elon Phoenix (7-6, 0-0) enter this game ranked No. 1 in the SoCon. In their last outing on December 22, they came away with a 67-62 triumph over Florida Atlantic. Jack Isenbarger, a senior guard, came off the bench to put up 18 points for the Phoenix. In addition to his 7.0 PPG, he is also chipping in 2.2 RPG.
They are led by three seniors (guard Sebastian Koch, forward Ryley Beaumont, and forward Lucas Troutman), a junior (guard Austin Hamilton), and a sophomore (guard Tanner Samson). This team can shoot the 3-ball. Elon currently leads the SoCon in three-point FGP at 42.5 percent and threes made with 125. Tanner Samson (45) and Sebastian Koch (41) rank first and second in the league in threes made. Samson ranks second in the SoCon in three-point FGP, while Austin Hamilton is tied for third and Koch ranks sixth.
With two blocked shots at FAU in their last outing, Troutman extended his program-best career mark to 178 blocks. Troutman set Elon’s all-time blocks record last season and is seven blocks shy of passing VMI’s Eric Mann (1997-01) for 10th all-time in SoCon history. Troutman is the league’s active leader in career blocks. In addition, he has scored in double figures in eight of Elon’s last 10 games this season and in 37 of the team’s last 44 games. Troutman has scored 20 or more points in eight of those contests.
Overall, the Phoenix average 81.4 PPG (49.6 FG%, 58.0 eFG %) while holding its opponents to 73.2 PPG (44.3 FG %). They also average 5.8 SPG and 15 APG to 12.2 TOPG (1.5 A/TO).
Duke Blue Devils
The Duke Blue Devils (10-2, 0-0) will go in search of a fifth consecutive victory on Tuesday when they make the -short trip to Greensboro, NC to take on the Elon Phoenix. Duke is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press and No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Blue Devils are 78-21 all-time when ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll. Duke is playing their 224th straight game as a top-10 team in the AP poll. Duke is 185-38 (.830) in that span. The Blue Devils have won 24 straight games in the month of December with the last loss coming to Wisconsin, 73-69, on December 2, 2009 and are 179-26 under Mike Krzyzewski in the month. Duke is 42-11 under Mike Krzyzewski at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The nine-day break between the UCLA and Eastern Michigan games did little to quash Duke’s momentum, as the Blue Devils won their fourth game in a row, 82-59 over EMU in Cameron. Andre Dawkins, who drew a last-minute start when Rodney Hood came down with an illness following player introductions, continued his hot streak, scoring a season-high 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting, all from three-point range. Jabari Parker scored 23 points, Amile Jefferson hauled in a career-high 14 rebounds and Rasheed Sulaimon continued to regain form with 13 points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field and 9-of-11 free throws.
The Blue Devils have won 52 consecutive games against teams currently in the Southern Conference. Mike Krzyzewski is 52-2 all-time at Duke versus the SoCon. Duke has had a 20-point scorer in every game this season. The last time Duke started a season with a 20-point scorer in its first 12 games was 2000-01 when the Blue Devils had a 20-point scorer in 17 straight games to start the season. Jabari Parker has scored 20 or more points in 10 of Duke’s 12 contests. His 10 20-point games are tied for the second most by a Duke freshman. Gene Banks (1977-78) holds the school freshman record with 11 games of 20 or more points scored. Andre Dawkins is averaging 9.1 points in just 13.4 MPG. He ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage (.481) and seventh in three-point field goals (2.3 3PG). Dawkins ranks second on the team in points per 40 minutes played (27.2 PPG). Amile Jefferson is averaging 7.0 points, 9.3 rebounds (3.5 ORPG) and 1.3 blocks per game over the last four contests. He has a pair of double-figure rebounding games in that span including a career-high 14 boards in the win over Eastern Michigan. Quinn Cook has recorded two or more steals in each of the last four games and is now tied for fifth in the ACC at 1.8 SPG. Cook has 13 steals in the last two games with a career-high eight thefts against UCLA. Duke leads the ACC in scoring (85.2 PPG) and FGP (.504). The Blue Devils have scored 80 or more points nine times, while shooting 50 percent or better from the field on six occasions. Rodney Hood is third in the ACC in FGP (.543), tied for sixth in scoring (17.6 PPG) and seventh in FTP (.850). Hood and K.J. McDaniels (Clemson) are the only players to rank in the top 10 in all three categories. Parker (22.2 PPG) and Hood (17.6 PPG) are the top scoring tandem in the ACC (third in the NCAA) at 39.8 PPG. Either Parker or Hood have led the Blue Devils in scoring in 11 of the first 12 games this season. Duke is allowing just 65.5 points per game since Tyler Thornton and Josh Hairston were inserted into the starting lineup five games ago. The Blue Devils allowed the opposition to average 75.7 PPG over the first six games of the season.
Elon: Contain Parker, force Duke into taking difficult shots, & don’t get lost in the moment (prestige & history on national TV), also for Elon winning the game in segments and playing with poise, they have the experience to do so, but as we all know Cameron is tough.
Duke: Get off to quick start, get everyone involved, rebound & force Elon bigs into foul trouble. There should be the type or talent gap that will allow Duke to either try out a few new line-ups or solidify the type of team they are going to be heading into ACC season. Jabari Parker should be a huge factor but I think the bench, namely Andre Dawkins & Amile Jefferson will be x-factors.
This is a good test for Duke, Elon has played a decent schedule and played a good Georgetown team tough 4 games ago.
Duke will look to curb Elon’s shooting efficiency while attempting to turn them over to get their offense off and running. Elon similarly will try to contest Duke jump-shots and somehow find a way to keep Duke off the glass. Elon will have to put emphasis on ball-handling and shot selection.
Elon’s depth and experience will put them right in the mix for a Southern Conference title. That said, and no one team should ever be overlooked, the Blue Devils should increase their all-time series record with Elon from 18- to 19-7). Duke should run away with this game in the second half but Elon may keep the margin close in the first.