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Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Louisville Cardinals

By January 17, 2015April 20th, 2015No Comments

Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (14-2, 2-2] vs. Louisville Cardinals (15-2, 3-1]

Saturday, January 1, 2015 • 12:00 PM • ESPN • Louisville, KY • KFC Yum! Center/Crum Court

By Randy Dunson

1. Snapshot


Duke (14-2, 2-2) faces Louisville (15-2, 3-1) Saturday, January 17 in its third ACC road contest over a four-game stretch. Tipoff is set for 12:00 PM with Dave O’Brien (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (analyst) and Doris Burke (sideline) calling the action for ESPN. The Blue Devils enter the game ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke is 65-14 when ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. Louisville is ranked No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 7 in the Coaches Poll. Duke is 15-9 all-time against the No. 6 team in the AP Poll. The Blue Devils have dropped two straight ACC contests for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Duke has not lost three straight league games since the 2006-07 campaign.


Louisville plays its second straight at home as the Cardinals face Duke in the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday. UofL won for the fourth time in its last five games as the Cardinals beat Virginia Tech 78-63 on January 13 as Terry Rozier’s 16 points led four Cardinals in double figures and Chris Jones handed out a career-best 11 assists.
2. Team Seasons Thus Far

Duke Blue Devils

In its last outing, Duke fell to Miami, 90-74, Tuesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium to snap a 41-game home win streak. Jahlil Okafor recorded his fifth double-double of the year with 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Amile Jefferson added 14 points and 12 rebounds. The post tandem combined for 14 of Duke’s 17 offensive rebounds in the loss. Quinn Cook knocked down four three-point field goals and finished with 18 points, while Rasheed Sulaimon (14) also scored in double figures. Miami shot 51.7 percent from the field, including 66.7 percent (18-of-27) in the second half of play. The Hurricanes were also 10-of-20 from three-point range in the contest.

Game Notes

  • Duke started 14-2 during the 2011, 2009, 2002, and 1999 seasons (since 1996).
  • Duke set season lows for blocks (1) and steals (4).
  • The Blue Devils have recorded more rebounds than their opponents for the past 13 games.
  • This is the first loss of the season where the Blue Devils opponent came back to win after being down at halftime.
  • This is the ninth game at home this season–Duke has a 27.1 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
  • The top two scorers (Quinn Cook and Jahlil Okafor) accounted for 44.5 percent of the points.
  • Jahlil Okafor accounted for 36.5 percent of the team’s rebounds.
  • Quinn Cook has led the team in scoring in four out of 16 games this season.
  • Jahlil Okafor has led the team in rebounding in 11 out of 16 games this season.
  • Quinn Cook has seven straight double-digit point games.
  • Jahlil Okafor recorded the fifth double-digit rebound game of his career.
  • Jahlil Okafor has 16 straight double-digit point games.
  • Jahlil Okafor recorded a double-double. It was the fifth of his career.
  • Amile Jefferson recorded the 14th double-digit rebound game of his career.
  • Amile Jefferson recorded a double-double. It was his third this season and fifth of his career.
  • Amile Jefferson had a career high with six offensive rebounds.
  • Rasheed Sulaimon has four straight double-digit point games.

Overall, several notable highlights, trends, and highlights continue to emerge as the season progresses:

Team Highlights

  • Duke has lost back-to-back games in a season three times since the start of the 2009-10 season and is 26-3 following a loss during that span.
  • Duke has suffered losing streaks of three games or more just four times over the past 20 seasons. The Blue Devils had a pair of four-game skids during the 2006-07 season, as well as a four-game streak and a three-game slide in 1995-96.
  • Duke has outrebounded its opponent in 15 of 16 games on the year and owns a +8.0 rebound margin. Michigan State is the only team to outrebound the Blue Devils this season.
  • Duke has allowed 10 made three-point field goals in each of the past two games. The Blue Devils allowed just 4.1 made three-point field goals over the first 14 games of the season.
  • Duke is shooting 40.5 percent (53-of-131) from the field, including 27.1 percent (13-of-48) from three-point range over the past two games. In comparison, the Blue Devils shot 51.8 percent (413-of-777) from the field and 38.9 percent (109-of-280) from behind the arc over the first 14 games of the season.

Individual Player Highlights

  • Freshmen Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow have started all 16 games for the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski has started three or more freshmen in a game 51 times at Duke, including 27 times during the 1982-83 season. The trio combines to average 40.2 points, 17.6 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game.
  • Okafor has scored 20 or more points in seven of the past 11 games and is averaging 20.4 points on 70.2 percent (87-of-124) shooting from the field in that span.
  • Quinn Cook is averaging a career-high 14.8 points per game while also posting career bests in field goal percentage (.474), three-point field goals (2.7 3PG), three-point percentage (.406), and free throw percentage (.970). He has scored in double figures 15 times on the year.
  • Okafor has the highest field goal percentage (.668) in the NCAA among players attempting seven or more shots per game. Okafor has shot over 70 percent from the field in nine of Duke’s 16 games.
  • A freshman has led the Blue Devils in scoring in 12 of 16 games. Okafor has paced the offensive attack eight times, while T. Jones, and Justise Winslow have each led Duke in scoring two times. The rookie trio has also accounted for 10 of Duke’s 11 20-point games on the year (Okafor 7, Jones 2, and Winslow 1).
  • Quinn Cook has made at least one three-point field goal in each of the past 26 games. He is shooting 41.4 percent (65-of-157) from behind the arc in that stretch. Cook is third in the ACC in three-point field goals (2.7 3PG) and sixth in three-point percentage (.406) this season.
  • Okafor (66) and Amile Jefferson (50) have combined for 116 of Duke’s 201 offensive rebounds. Okafor leads the ACC lead with 4.13 ORPG, while Jefferson ranks seventh at 3.13 ORPG. The tandem combined for 14 offensive rebounds in Tuesday’s loss to Miami.
  • Rasheed Sulaimon has scored in double figures in all four ACC games. He is averaging 11.5 points, while shooting 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from three-point range in league play.
  • Okafor has scored in double figures in 16 straight games, the fourth-longest double digit scoring streak by a freshman at Duke. Johnny Dawkins holds the top mark after scoring 10 or more points in the first 23 games of his career.
  • Okafor has recorded a double-double in each of the past three games. He is averaging 16.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in that span.



In its last outing, the Cardinals got past Virginia Tech 43-24 on January 13 with the help of 16 points from Terry Rozier. A crucial part of the team, he leads the way with 17.4 points per game and 2.2 steals per game.

Game Notes

  • The last time Louisville started the season 15-2 was 1996.
  • The Cardinals have won every game this season (9-0) after recording 78 or more total points.
  • Louisville has won every game this season (5-0) when its field goal percentage has been 47.7 percent or better.
  • Louisville has won every game this season (9-0) after holding an opponent to under 36.7 percent field goal percentage.
  • Louisville has won every game this season (5-0) when opponents record 33 or fewer rebounds.
  • This season Louisville has won 100 percent of the time (13-0) when Montrezl Harrell has 11 points or more, 80 percent of the time (8-2) when Chris Jones plays 30 minutes or more, and 100 percent of the time (4-0) when Wayne Blackshear has three three-pointers or more.
  • Louisville set season lows for free throws made (6), steals (3), and turnovers (7).
  • Louisville has turned the ball over less than their opponents for the past 11 games.
  • This is the 12th game at home this season–Louisville has a 20.2 average scoring margin against opponents at home.
  • Chris Jones recorded a team season high in assists with 11.
  • Terry Rozier has led the team in scoring in seven out of 17 games this season.
  • Mangok Mathiang has led the team in rebounding in four out of 17 games this season.
  • This game was the second double-digit assist game of Chris Jones’s career.
  • Chris Jones had a career high with 11 assists.
  • Wayne Blackshear has three straight double-digit point games.
  • Terry Rozier has 12 straight double-digit point games.

Overall, several notable highlights, trends, and highlights continue to emerge as the season progresses:

Team Highlights

  • Louisville’s academic performance in the recently completed fall semester was impressive, with 15 of its 16 men’s basketball student-athletes achieving a 3.0 or better grade point average. The Cardinals posted a collective 3.33 GPA for the 2014 Fall Semester, just short of the team record of 3.47 achieved last fall.
  • Louisville’s 111 victories over the last four years are the most wins in the nation in that stretch. Louisville is the only school in the nation with three straight 30-win seasons, including a school-record 35 victories by its 2012-13 NCAA Title team.
  • While connecting on 66.2 percent of its free throws on the season, the Cardinals have made 76.0 percent from the line in its last nine games (133-of-175) while making above 70 percent in eight games. UofL is 19th nationally in free throw attempts (414).

Cardinals Will Wear 1980s-Inspired Uniforms for the Duke Game


UofL will wear special Adidas uniforms that feature a historic 1980s-inspired blend for its January 17 game against Duke in the KFC Yum! Center. A modern take on the uniforms worn during Louisville’s 1980 and 1986 NCAA Championship runs, the retro uniform celebrates the rich tradition of Cardinal Basketball. Blending the best of past and present, the uniform features the same lightweight Revolution 30 technology used in the NBA while evoking a retro feel with the throwback letter, numbering, and logo similar to the features on the 1980s team uniforms. The Cardinals’ first two NCAA championships are commemorated on the jersey’s inside collar. Each leg of the shorts showcases the Louisville “Dunking Bird” Cardinal logo that was prominent in the 80’s. UofL had the highest NCAA Tournament winning percentage in the nation in the 1980s (.793, 23-6), reached the Final Four on four occasions and reached the NCAA Sweet 16 seven times.

Thieving Cardinals


Louisville has picked up where it left off in recent seasons with good defensive pressure. With a season-low three steals in its last game vs. Virginia Tech, the Cardinals are averaging 10.2 steals, ranking fifth in the nation. UofL has produced double-digit steals in 13 of its 17 games this season. Five UofL foes have had more turnovers than field goals this season. Three Cardinals, Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear, are among the top six in the ACC in steals. Last season, the Cardinals led the nation in turnover margin (+6.7) and ranked second nationally in steals (10.0 per game). Louisville is the only team to rank among the nation’s top 10 in steals each of the last three seasons (8.8 steals in 2011-12, 7th in the nation; 9.3 steals in 2010-11, 7th in the nation). The Cards’ 430 steals in 2012-13 was a new school record.

Cards Continue Productive Defense


Louisville teams under Rick Pitino have been known for their defensive intensity and this year’s unit has followed in that tradition. UofL has limited its opponents to less than 60 points in 10 games this season (five of last nine), allowing an average of 56.9 points to rank 17th in the nation in scoring defense. Louisville has committed fewer turnovers than its opponent in 15 of 17 games and is ninth in the nation in turnover margin (+4.7). Louisville has ranked among the nation’s top 40 in field goal percentage defense in 11 of the past 13 years, including this season’s .365 percentage, which ranks 11th nationally. UofL has held 12 of its 17 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field, including a season-best 19.6 percent against Savannah State. UofL is 42nd nationally in three-point field goal percentage defense (.295). Louisville has the nation’s No. 4 defense in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive ratings and ranks eighth in the overall ratings.

Player Highlights

  • In his last four games, Chris Jones has averaged 17.5 points, 7.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and shot 49 percent from the field. He leads the ACC in assists for conference only games (7.0 APG).

Harrell Paces the Cards


All-America forward Montrezl Harrell is averaging 15.2 points (eighth in the ACC), 8.9 rebounds (fifth in the ACC, 36th in the nation) and is shooting 58.4 percent from the field (fourth in the ACC, 19th in the nation). His free throw percentage of 60.0 percent is up nearly 14 percentage points over his 46.4 mark from last season. He has produced a double-double in six of his last 12 games and on 18 occasions in his career, including his latest with 25 points and 13 rebounds at Wake Forest on January 4. His six double-doubles this season are tied for the ACC lead with North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks and is 23rd nationally. He has scored in double figures in 25 of his last 28 games, including 15 games with 15 points or more. He is among the ACC’s active top five in career scoring, rebounds, and blocked shots. Harrell scored a career-high 30 points in the Cardinals’ season opener against Minnesota. He added seven rebounds, two steals and shot an impressive percentage in all facets, 9-of-12 field goals, including 3-of-4 three-pointers, and 9-of-10 free throws. For his efforts, he was honored as the national player of the week by, and others. He has been selected as the ACC Player of the Week twice this season.

Rozier on a Tear


In his last 10 games, Terry Rozier has averaged 20.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 steals and shot 46.4 percent from the field (20-of-55 three-pointers), scoring over 20 points in four games. He leads the Cards in scoring (17.4 PPG, third in the ACC) and is second in the ACC in steals (2.2 SPG) and ninth in the league in free throw percentage (.747). In his last game against Virginia Tech, he had 16 points, three rebounds and made 4-of-6 three-pointers in just 19 minutes of action. Rozier was named ACC Player of the Week on December 22 after scoring a career-high 32 points at Western Kentucky, scoring 17 straight points during an eight and a half minute stretch in the second half.

3. Head-to-Head

Louisville trails 4-5 in the series history with Duke, but the Cardinals have won four of the five matchups. They are 1-1 in Louisville, 1-1 in Durham, and 2-3 on neutral courts. In their last meeting, UofL thrashed Duke, 85- 63 on March 31, 2013 in Indianapolis, IN at the NCAA Midwest Region Championship.

In terms of a few key offensive and defensive statistical parameters, Although Duke’s stats have decreased/increased (where appropriate) since beginning ACC play, they still have an edge over State in most all categories, which give the Blue Devils a significant statistical edge head-to-head.


Duke2014-15 Regular Season Key Stats ComparisonLouisville
84.4 (+23.5)PPG (Scoring Margin)71.4 (+2.1)
60.9Opponents PPG62.4
58.7Effective FG%51.4
41.3Opponent FG%38.5
36.93PT FG%36.9
26.4Opponent 3PT FG%31.5
37.9 (+8.3)RPG (Rebound Margin)38.6 (+6.1)
29.6Opponent RPG32.6
11.2 (+3.2)Turnovers Per Game (Margin)11.6 (+1.1)
13.9Opponent TOPG10.0


4. Four Factors to Winning

[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here,]

Duke-UoL 4Fs

Duke holds an edge in eFG% and TO% rate while the Cards and Devils are neck and neck when it comes to OR% and FT Rate. When looking at eFG%, it is 56.8% to 48.9%. In terms of handling the ball, the edge is 16.6% vs. 18.1%. In offensive rebounding, the edge favors Duke 37.9% vs. 337.3%. Finally, when it comes to getting to the free throw line Duke has a slight edge of 42.9% vs. 41.2%).

5. Key Points to Consider

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


  • Highly efficient attack
  • Stingy defense (last two games are major exceptions)
  • Commits few fouls


  • Two main scorers (Harrell/Rozier)
  • Highly efficient attack
  • Stingy defense
  • Defends layups and jumpers well

Now, a few key points to consider (refer to the Endgame). These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.

I have decided to leave the keys in this section purposely blank for this game, as it is my opinion that, as a team, they have too many weaknesses. The only exceptions are the individual performances of Cook, Sulaimon, and Okafor.
6. Endgame

The Duke Blue Devils and Louisville Cardinals meet Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center.

The Duke Blue Devils look to snap a two-game skid when they play their fourth true road game.

The key to the two losses was simple, Duke’s defense has been awful. The Blue Devils gave up 87 points in a loss to the NC. State, followed by 90 in the Miami loss. Those numbers simply will not get it done in the talented ACC.

On the other side of the coin is Louisville, a team that can seem offensively-challenged at times. However, the Cardinals play great defense, led by the pressing style preferred by head coach Rick Pitino.

The simple key to this one is, can Duke play good enough defensively to slow Louisville down. The Cardinals will make it tough for Duke to score, so the Blue Devils need to do the same when they are on defense.

Even at this point of uncertainly for Duke, I am not sure Louisville has the offense to hang with the Blue Devils if the shots from the outside are falling. The Blue Devils have been horrible their last couple of games but the value here is probably the better overall team. Surprisingly, I look for Duke to eke out a very close win.

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