Game Preview by @RandyDunson – Duke Blue Devils vs. Grand Canyon Antelopes

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Duke Blue Devils [1-0, 0-0] vs. Grand Canyon University (GCU) Antelopes [0-0, 0-0]

November 12, 2016 • 5:30 PM • Durham, NC • Cameron Indoor Stadium

(Saturday’s game will available on ESPN3 through the ACC Network Extra package)

by Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson.]

 

Team Overviews

Duke

Duke faces Grand Canyon on Saturday, less than 24 hours after posting a 94-49 win over Marist to open the season. Duke held Marist to .231 shooting from the floor and .120 from the arc, while outrebounding the Red Foxes by 23, on Friday night.

Duke ranks fourth in NCAA history in both wins (2,088) and winning percentage (.707). The Blue Devils are ranked No. 1 in both the preseason AP and USA Today Coaches polls. It marks the eighth time in program history that the Blue Devils were the AP’s preseason No. 1 and the sixth time they earned the top spot in the preseason Coaches poll.


Notables:

  • NA


Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Grayson Allen

Guard – Junior Matt Jones

Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard

Forward – Sophomore Chase Jeter

Forward – Grad Student Amile Jefferson

 

GCU

The Grand Canyon men’s basketball team faces a tough test to start the 2016-17 regular season as they face the nation’s No. 1 team, the Duke Blue Devils, at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. on Saturday.

“I think it will be a really good experience, not only for the kids but for myself”, head coach Dan Majerle told media on a conference call on Monday. “I’ve played in some of the greatest arenas in the world as a player. I always enjoyed playing on the road against a hostile crowd. I’m anxious to see how our guys react to that. As I said, it will only make us a better team and stronger from playing in an environment like that.”

It will be the second time in three seasons that GCU will open the season facing the No. 1 team in the country, having visited Kentucky at Rupp Arena to start the 2014-15 season. The Lopes will be without senior point guard DeWayne Russell, who must sit out the first two games of the season due to an NCAA ruling following his transfer from Northern Arizona during the 2013-14 season.

Duke is hosting a slate of campus-hosted games as part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Blue Devils defeated Marist 95-49 in their season opener Friday night. The Lopes are one of eight teams in the tournament, traveling to Penn State for another campus-hosted game on Tuesday before the tournament wraps up at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT next weekend.

“Any time we get to play in a tournament of this stature is great for Grand Canyon and for our kids,” Majerle said. “This being our fourth and final year of transition from Division II, we’ve been able to play in some fantastic arenas. We’ve played at Kentucky, at Louisville, at Indiana, at San Diego State, and now to be able start this off and opening at Duke, again a great place and one of the hallowed places to play, and it will be a great experience for our kids.”

GCU is coming off a 27-7 season in 2015-16, which saw GCU advance to the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

Notables:

  • Saturday’s game is part of the initial round of games for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
  • The Lopes will open the season facing the No. 1 team in the AP Top-25 for the second time in three years. GCU fell in the 2014-15 season opener at No. 1 Kentucky.
  • GCU earned their first win in a season opener under head coach Dan Majerle in 2015 as the Lopes took down Portland State 82-72 at GCU Arena on Nov. 13.
  • Duke is the second ACC team GCU has faced in school history, having traveled to visit No. 24 Louisville on Dec. 5, 2015.
  • The Lopes kicked of the 2016-17 campaign with an 88-83 exhibition win over Adams State last Thursday. DeWayne Russell led GCU with 17 points and 11 assists.
  • Russell will not be available for the first two games of the regular season due to an NCAA ruling following his transfer from NAU in 2013-14.


Probable Starters

Forward – RS Sophomore Kerwin Smith

Guard – RS Junior Joshua Braun

Guard – RS Sophomore Gerald Martin

Forward – Grad Student Darion Clark

Forward – RS Sophomore Kerwin Smith

 

Last Time Out

Duke

Duke opened the season with a victory for the 17th straight year by crushing Marist 94-49. The win also marked the 35th time the Blue Devils won the first game of a campaign under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke used the starting lineup of Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Chase Jeter, Amile Jefferson, and Luke Kennard for the first time this season and owns a 1-0 record with those five players on the floor to start the game. A freshman was not in Duke’s starting lineup for the first time since March 15, 2013, when the Blue Devils faced Maryland in the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Coach Krzyzewski’s Numbers

  • The result moved Krzyzewski’s all-time record to 1,044-321 and his record at Duke to 971-262.
  • A Krzyzewski-led Duke team moved to 1-0 all-time when facing Marist.

Blue Devils on the Glass

  • Five Blue Devils, Luke Kennard (nine), Amile Jefferson (nine), Antonio Vrankovic (10), Javin DeLaurier (eight) and Chase Jeter (eight), posted eight-or-more rebounds in the contest. Vrankovic’s 10 boards and DeLaurier and Jeter’s eight rebounds are career highs for each.
  • Duke outrebounded Marist on the offensive glass, 16-8, converting those 16 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points.

Duke’s Offensive Output

  • Five Blue Devils, including Luke Kennard (16), Frank Jackson (18), Chase Jeter (11), Grayson Allen (16), and Matt Jones (11), registered double-digit points. Jeter’s double-digit scoring output was the first of his career. He also shot a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor and collected five offensive boards.
  • The Blue Devils never trailed in the contest, netting the first 12 points in the game and leading by as many as 29 in the opening half and 47 in the contest.

Duke on the Defensive End

  • The Blue Devils held Marist to just 49 points, including 21 in the second half.
  • Duke allowed Marist to shoot just 15-of-65 (.231) from the field and 3-of-25 (.120) from beyond the arc. The 12.0 percent three-point field goal percentage is the lowest for a Duke opponent since the Blue Devils allowed North Carolina to shoot just 1-of-13 (7.7) from beyond the arc Feb. 17, 2016.
  • Forty-nine points are the fewest allowed by a Duke defense since holding San Diego State to 49 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament March 22, 2015.

Fresh Faces

  • Frank Jackson led Duke in scoring, netting 18 points to go along with four steals and four assists.
  • In addition to Jackson’s 18, Javin DeLaurier scored six points and Jack White added five. The Duke rookies combined to score 29 points, 30.9 percent of the team’s total offense on the night.
  • Redshirt freshman Justin Robinson registered the first point of his career, hitting a free throw in the second half.

 

Notables:

  • Included Above

GCU

The Grand Canyon men’s basketball team defeated Adams State 88-85 in an exhibition game on Thursday night. DeWayne Russell led the Lopes with a double-double on 17 points (6-of-12) and 11 assists.

The Lopes got off to a slow start, committing 12 fouls and turning the ball over 13 times in the first half. However, the offense had no trouble firing on all cylinders, hitting 16-of-31 (.516) from the field. Tied 19-19 with only 7:30 to go in the first half, Russell took control, scoring eight points in the last 7:30 of the half.

“This was just a bad performance”, head coach Dan Majerle commented. “It is a wakeup call for our guys. We came out flat. I thought we would come out with energy, especially with our amazing crowd and amazing student section. I cannot thank them enough for showing up and being a part of this. I told my guys they should be very thankful, and they are very thankful, but I don’t know if our guys just took Adams State too lightly.”

Led by Russell with 12 points (5-of-10), the Lopes found themselves with a 39-28 lead going into the locker room at the half. Supporting Russell, teammate Kerwin Smith followed with nine points in the first half off 4-of-5 shooting. Joshua Braun totaled seven points (3-of-4), including a 3-pointer before the break.

“The game didn’t go the way we planned,” Russell commented. “We just have to look at ourselves in the mirrors as players and just comeback stronger.”

Coming out hot in the second half, the Lopes were 7-of-12, including a 3-pointer from Gerard Martin to go up 56-44. Transfer Shaq Carr picked up play, scoring 11 points of his 13 points in the second half off 7-of-8 shooting from the free throw line, adding 2-of-2 shooting in the field. Gerard Martin finished the game hitting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, scoring all nine points in the second half.

Braun ended with 14 points (5-of-8), including two 3-pointers. Smith continued his hot streak, ending the game with 13 points (5-of-6). Transfer Darion Clark finished his night leading the Lopes with eight rebounds, adding 10 points off 4-of-6 shooting.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Braun said. “Coach (Majerle) draws things up and pushes us. He has a game plan and it is up to us as players to execute, play well, and get fired up for games like this in front of the home crowd. We have to do a better job at bringing the energy and better focus. We need to play sharper and little bit better.”

Fouls continued for the Lopes as GCU ended the night with 31, resulting in 46 free throw attempts for the Grizzlies. Adams State ended the night 35-of-46 from the line. On the other end, Grand Canyon’s defense contained Adams State’s offense to only 22-of-60 (.235) shooting on the night.

Notables:

  • NA

Head-to-Head

This is the first time that these two teams have played.

[NB: Full statistical parameters will not be displayed until after the fifth game is played. Some statistics will be noted in other sections though.]

 

Duke 2015-16 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison GCU
PPG (Scoring Margin)
Opponents PPG
Effective FG%
FG%
Opponent FG%
3PT FG%
Opponent 3PT FG%
RPG (Rebound Margin)
Opponent RPG
FT%
APG
SPG (%)
Turnovers Per Game (Margin)
Opponent TOPG
BPG
Fouls Per Game

 

Four Factors to Winning

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics] [If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, https://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]

 

Key Points to Consider

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics]

First, a few points regarding both team’s overall profile at this point:

 

Duke

In its season opener, No. 1 Duke proved to be a deep team – perhaps the deepest in the nation. The Blue Devils routed Marist on Friday and are right back at it Saturday as they host Grand Canyon in a non-league contest.

Duke took the court Friday without three injured freshmen but had no issues in a 94-49 rout. Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard each registered 16 points while freshman Frank Jackson notched 18. “We’re a little bit undermanned now, and nobody feels sorry for us because they think we have an excessive number of men,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “But we just have to keep getting better.”

Grand Canyon won its lone exhibition game – an 88-85 triumph over Adams State – and was predicted by the WAC coaches to finish second in the league.

The Antelopes improved by 10 wins a season ago and reached the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament, where they were ousted in the quarterfinals on a basket by Coastal Carolina with 2.2 seconds remaining. Joshua Braun, the team’s top scorer from last season (16.5 points) is back, although inside force Grandy Glaze (14 points, 8.8 rebounds) has departed. One bright spot for Grand Canyon in its exhibition contest was its defense as Adams State only shot 23.5 percent.

The Blue Devils on Friday were missing first-year players Jayson Tatum (foot), Harry Giles (knee) and Marques Bolden (leg) and likely will be without all three for the foreseeable future. Allen, a preseason All-American pick, only shot 3-of-11 in the opener, while fellow upperclassmen Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones combined to go 5-of-13. Duke had no issues on defense, however, as it held Marist to 23.1 percent shooting – including 3-of-25 from beyond the arc.

  • Jones, Allen, and Kennard combined to shoot 7-of-16 from 3-point range in the opener.
  • Grand Canyon’s coach is former NBA All-Star Dan Majerle.
  • Duke has won 126 straight non-conference home games – the longest active streak in the nation.

 

Endgame

While Duke should win this game against Grand Canyon, it should be noted that this team is capable of both putting up points and providing Duke with a much stiffer test than Marist. Picked to finish near the top of their league and boasting the pre-season player of the year this game could prove interesting for Duke.

What I would want to see as a Blue Devil fan I would hope to see this team work the ball in the middle and utilize the advantage that they have in terms of size. Amile Jefferson and Chase Jeter should have big games. In addition, Duke needs to increase the assist numbers as they only managed 13 against Marist.

I see Duke winning 88-67.