Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs Evansville Purple Aces

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Duke (11-1, 0-1)

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Boston College (10-2)

When: Dec. 20 | 7:00 PM (ET)
Where: Durham, NC - Cameron Indoor Stadium
Watch Live: ESPN2

Duke comes off of an 11 day break with a bad taste in their mouths from a loss at Boston College that called into question for some, just how good this team really is. It's amazing how one loss completely invalidates 11 wins but such is life as a top ranked team. Duke will have a lot to prove against Evansville tonight. No, Evansville is not Boston College nor are they Florida State (who Duke plays at home in ten days) but they give Duke a chance to run through what they've learned and what they've practiced since the BC loss. The defense was bad but to me the offense in the 89-84 loss was just as bad. I will give Duke a small pass due to the hectic schedule and lack of adequate practice time but if the next two games are similar in how Duke applies defensive pressure to their opponents' perimeter then this team is in trouble.

Evansville comes into Durham riding a 5 game winning streak, their second off the season, sandwiched between are two losses one at hime and one on the road. They bring in a team minus their leading scorer Ryan Taylor who is out with a broken foot but do have adequate firepower on the perimeter to account for Taylors absence. The Purple Aces are shooting just under 50% from beyond the arc with 6 players shooting over 40%, not including the injured Taylor. Evansville will start 2 freshmen, a junior, a sophomore and a senior. They should be a good test of Dukes perimeter defense in preparation for the rest of the ACC season as they are ranked first in Division 1 in three-point percentage, although only 333rd in attempts. They are efficient and choose their spots wisely.

The Purple Aces are led in scoring by Ryan Taylor at 21.3 points per game but with his injury he is supplanted in the top scoring spot by Dru Smith at 12.4 points per game and Blake Simmons at 12.3 points a game.

For Duke it comes down to pretty simple things. They have to do better at guarding the perimeter. Duke has to want to guard and communicate much better defensively - granted Boston College had an out of this world shooting game against Duke but Duke did a lot to aid them in those gaudy numbers. No team should shoot 58% from 3 point range against Duke unless they are coached by Steve Kerr. One has to wonder if Duke had shot just a few percentage points higher, not even a huge number but maybe just 30%, perhaps they win that game. But it has to start on the defensive end if Duke is going to be successful this season.

Offensively Duke had just as many issues. Understandably, Coach K has called some ISO plays for Marvin Bagley to utilize his talent on that end of the floor but I'm not sure, at least against BC, it had the desired effect. Duke seemed to have very little motion in its offense even when the ball didn't go in to Bagley. There was a lack of rhythm and not enough passing. The difference in points garnered via the 3 point shot was a staggering 21 points, it nearly cancelled out Dukes' 22 point advantage in points in the paint.

Projected Starting Lineups:

Duke:

F Marvin Bagley III
F Wendell Carter Jr.
G Gary Trent Jr.
G Grayson Allen
G Trevon Duval

 


Evansville:

F Evan Kuhlman
F Dainius Chetkevicius
G/F Blake Simmons
G K.J. Riley
G Noah Frederking

Duke FG Percentage
50.9%
Evansville FG Percentage
48.4%
Duke 3pt Percentage
35%
Evansville 3pt Percentage
49.1%
Duke FT Percentage
70%
Evansville FT Percentage
76.7%
Duke Scoring Average
93.3
Evansville Scoring Average
72.3

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