Game Preview by @RandyDunson: Duke Blue Devils vs. Louisville Cardinals (Game 2) – February 20, 2016

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Abridged Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (20-6, 9-4 (T4)] vs. Louisville Cardinals [26, 9-4 (T-4)]

Saturday, February 20, 2016 • 12:00 PM • ESPN • Louisville, KY • KFC Yum! Center

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


Endgame

DUKELouisville_Cardinal_Logo_NewDuke is back. The No. 20 Blue Devils did not take long to climb back up the AP Poll as they recorded some big wins over ranked opponents. One of their most recent victims was Louisville in Durham. However, the shorthanded Blue Devils will be hard-pressed to complete the sweep against the Cardinals as they visit the fortress known as the KFC Yum! Center.

Before digging into the meat of the preview, I will first address Matt Jones’ injury.

Matt Jones

An already thin Duke team will be down a starter when they take on Louisville Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum Center. The team announced Friday that junior guard Matt Jones would miss the game after suffering a sprained left ankle during the Blue Devils’ upset win over North Carolina on Wednesday.

Jones, who averages 11.2 points per game, is one of just two Duke players who has started every game this season. Known primarily as a defensive stopper, Jones played the biggest part in limiting Damion Lee to 3 of 15 shooting from the field in Louisville’s 72-65 loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier this month.

Jones played just 9 minutes in the North Carolina game before suffering his injury, forcing fellow guards Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen to play all 40 minutes of the contest. Another guard, Derryck Thornton, played 39 minutes.

Duke has been utilizing a 7-man rotation since they lost Amile Jefferson, but playing just six guys seems like it could be a little much. We know freshman Luke Kennard is going to play a bunch, but it will be interesting to see if Coach K gives someone else off the bench a little more time than they have seen over the past two months.

Sizing Up the Blue Devils

Duke has been on quite a roll ever since losing to Miami and crashing out of the Top 25 AP Poll last month. The Blue Devils have won five in a row (but went only 3-2 ATS), including three-straight against ranked opponents – Louisville (72-65), Virginia (63-62) and at North Carolina (74-73).

Their win at Chapel Hill on Wednesday was particularly impressive given the circumstances. Junior Matt Jones went down due to a badly sprained ankle, which left Duke with essentially six players. Thankfully, Brandon Ingram (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Grayson Allen (23 points, seven rebounds) stepped up in crunch time to deliver Duke the win.

With Jones out for this game and senior big man Amile Jefferson still out with his broken foot, the Blue Devils will remain very shorthanded for their visit to Louisville.

However, Ingram and Allen have proven to be very capable of carrying the team despite playing some heavy minutes. Ingram played all 40 minutes and had 18 points with 10 rebounds, while Allen had 19 in 39 minutes in Duke’s win over Louisville last week.

The Duke Blue Devils look to build on their solid five-game winning streak. The Duke Blue Devils are averaging 83.1 points on 47.3 percent shooting and allowing 71 points on 43.7 percent shooting. Grayson Allen is averaging 20.7 points and 3.6 assists while Brandon Ingram is averaging 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds. Luke Kennard is grabbing 3.3 rebounds and Derryck Thornton is dishing 2.7 assists. The Duke Blue Devils are shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc and 72.5 percent from the free throw line. The Blue Devils are allowing 33.8 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 37.5 rebounds per game. The Duke Blue Devils have won 10 of their last 12 road games.

Sizing Up the Cardinals

Louisville finally snapped their first losing skid of the season with a big 72-58 win over Syracuse on Wednesday.

After those losses on the road to Duke and Notre Dame, it was not a huge surprise to see the Cardinals bounce back at home. They have gone an incredible 16-1 (10-4 ATS) in the KFC Yum! Center this year, and own the third-best home scoring margin in the country (+25.1).

Damion Lee’s shot deserted him last week as he finished with just 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting against Duke. Expect the senior, who is the team’s leading scorer at 16.5 PPG, to redeem himself at home, though.

Lee has been pretty reliable when he has face off with ranked opposition. He’s scored 18 or more points in four of five games against ranked opponents this season – 23 at Michigan State, 27 at Kentucky, 18 vs. Pit and 24 vs. UNC – with the lone exception a six-point effort against Virginia.

Meanwhile, Louisville’s suffocating press should be a bit more effective at home against a very shorthanded Duke team that must be feeling the effects – physically and mentally – of two-straight games that went right down to the wire.

The Louisville Cardinals look for consistency after splitting their last six games. The Louisville Cardinals are averaging 77.7 points on 47.8 percent shooting and allowing 60.7 points on 38.1 percent shooting. Damion Lee is averaging 16.5 points and four rebounds while Trey Lewis is averaging 12.3 points and 2.3 assists. Chinanu Onuaku is grabbing 8.6 rebounds and Quentin Snider is dishing 3.7 assists. The Louisville Cardinals are shooting 36.2 percent from beyond the arc and 69.3 percent from the free throw line. The Cardinals are allowing 31.3 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 39.8 rebounds per game. The Louisville Cardinals have won 20 of their last 23 home games.

Team Stats

Louisville Duke
Strength of Schedule (KenPom) 76th 12th
Points Per Game 77.7 (61st) 83.1 (11th)
Average Scoring Margin +17.0 (1st) +12.1 (17th)
Field Goal % 47.8% (22nd) 47.3% (30th)
2-point FG% 52.3% (50th) 52.5% (42nd)
3-point FG% 36.2% (96th) 39.1% (19th)
Free Throw % 69.3% (188th) 72.5% (78th)
Rebound Rate 56.1% (9th) 51.6% (94th)
Blocks Per Game 5.1 (27th) 4.6 (52nd)
Steals Per Game- 7.3 (46th) 6.0 (160th)
Assists Per Game 13.6 (141st) 13.5 (148th)
Turnovers Per Game 11.9 (98th) 9.9 (9th)
Opponent Turnovers Per Game 14.3 (52nd) 11.7 (260th)
Team Fouls Per Game 19.2 (149th) 16.5 (19th)
Opponent Shooting % 38.1% (7th) 43.7% (165th)
Opponent 2-point FG% 41.8% (10th) 47.6% (128th)
Opponent 3-point FG% 31.3% (33rd) 33.8% (124th)
Opponent Block Per Game 3.1 (98th) 3.4 (172nd)
Opponent Steals Per Game 5.6 (95th) 4.7 (19th)

 

PROJECTED STARTERS

DUKE (20-6, 9-4 ACC)

Position                Player                                  Height   Class      RPG       PPG

G                             Derryck Thornton            6-2          Fr.           2.1          8.3

G                             Luke Kennard                   6-5          Fr.           3.3 1       12.1

G                             Grayson Allen                   6-5          So.          4.8          20.7

F                              Brandon Ingram              6-9          Fr.           6.8          17.3

C                             Marshall Plumlee             7-0          Gr.          8.3          8.2

 

Key reserves – Chase Jeter, F, 6-10, Fr., 1.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG. Note: F Amile Jefferson (foot) and G/F Matt Jones (ankle) are both injured and are out Saturday.

LOUISVILLE (20-6, 9-4 ACC)

Position                Player                                  Height   Class      RPG       PPG

G                             Donovan Mitchell            6-3         Fr.           3.5          8.2

G                             Quentin Snider                 6-2         So.          2.4          9.6

F                              Damion Lee                      6-6         Gr.          4.0          16.5

F                              Jaylen Johnson                6-9         So.          3.8          5.1

C                             Chinanu Onuaku              6-10       So.          8.6          9.7

 

Prediction

It is hard to bet against the Blue Devils these days, especially after watching Wednesday night’s classic. Duke has always had the skill, but now it has the will to beat anyone in the country, and that trend will continue on Saturday. Louisville is a team with veterans with nothing to lose, so it will put it all out on the line in front of the Cardinal faithful. That will not be enough against Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram, who have been playing out of their minds the last five games. It will be close, but the Blue Devils gut out another win and sweep the season series.

Game Notables

  • Louisville leads the nation in scoring margin (+17.0), is seventh in scoring defense (60.7) and eighth in field goal percentage defense (.381)
  • Grayson Allen is second in the ACC in scoring (20.7 PPG, 19th in the nation) and is fifth in minutes played (35.5 mpg)
  • With five games remaining, Damion Lee needs 50 points to reach 2,000 for his career, including his three seasons at Drexel

 

  • A rematch: For the third time this season, Louisville fell behind by double digits in the second half only to charge back into the game then falter
    • All three of those games were on the road, too, at Kentucky, at Clemson and at Duke.
    • The Duke loss bothered Louisville’s players after the game because it reminded them of the other losses
    • The Cards were 1 of 6 from the field in the game’s final minutes, including a missed layup that could have dramatically changed momentum
    • That’s why Saturday’s game means a lot to Louisville; it’s a shot at revenge

 

  • Coach K vs. Pitino
    • Two of the winningest coaches in college basketball go head-to-head on Saturday, but it’s only the sixth meeting between them in all their years of coaching
    • Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke teams are 3-1 vs. Rick Pitino’s Louisville teams and 1-0 against Pitino’s UK teams
    • The two Hall of Famer coaches have won 1,780 college games over their long careers

 

  • Key guys missing
    • Two of the main players in both teams’ rotations, Louisville’s Mangok Mathiang and Duke’s Amile Jefferson, have been out since December
    • Two more key guys, Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud and Duke’s Matt Jones, will miss Saturday’s game, too
    • Jones, who has started all 24 games for Duke, leads the Blue Devils with 55 3-pointers and is the team’s fourth-leading scorer
      • His absence gives Duke just six regulars in its rotation, and one of those players, freshman big man Chase Jeter, only plays 4.9 minutes a game in the ACC

 

  • Deng Adel to start
    • Louisville will test out 6-foot-7 freshman Deng Adel in the lineup vs. Duke
    • Pitino has said a few times he wants to get Adel more minutes, but the problem against Syracuse, he said, was the Cards needed Damion Lee’s passing and shooting ability against the Orange’s zone
    • The Duke matchup is better suited for Adel’s game because the Blue Devils usually play man defense

 

  • ACC title race is on
    • With five games left, Pitino said his team is fully aware of the league standings
    • Louisville is one game behind Miami and UNC, and those teams play each other this weekend
    • Pitino said the standings are written out in big lettering on the meeting-room whiteboard

 

  • Young bigs improving
    • Pitino was specifically asked about sophomore Matz Stockman and freshman Ray Spalding
      • He said Stockman has to adjust his attitude so that he doesn’t get so upset when he misses shots or makes mistakes
      • As for Spalding, the team’s top deflections guy has to move his feet better, Pitino said

He should be a better on-ball defender than he is