Duke (19-3, 7-3)
St. Johns (10-13, 0-11)
When: Feb. 3 | 12:00 PM (ET)
Where: Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
St. Johns had the look of a winner in the early season beginning 10-2 but once conference play hit the Red Storm the trouble set in. The Red Storm sit currently at 0-11 in the Big East despite playing some tough teams closely. Chris Mullins' team has had several games where the outcome very easily could have gone in their favor; they lost to Xavier twice by 5 and 6 points, ASU by 8 points when the Sun Devil's were ranked in the top 20 and they lost to Villanova by a mere 7 points. Despite the 11 game losing streak this is not a bad team. Records can only indicate so much they have not given up and they are a very competitive group led by Shamorie Ponds on the offensive end. The sophomore guard out of Brooklyn averages a team high 19.7 points a game, he also averages 5 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Ponds also averages 2.5 steals a game, tied for the team lead with fellow sophomore guard Justin Simon who is the team assist leader with 4.9 a game to go with his 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The third guard in the starting lineup is Bashir Ahmed who is averaging 11.6 points a game and 4.7 boards. As a unit the guards for St. Johns rebound exceptionally well. At the forward spot the Red Storm start Marvin Clark II and Tariq Owens, Owens in particular is a defensive stopper averaging 3.4 blocks a game. The Red Storm as a team are 8th in the nation in blocked shots.
Freshmen sensation Marvin Bagley leads the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding, averaging 21.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. His front-court mate Wendell Carter Jr. is nearly averaging a double double at 14.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Senior Grayson Allen was due a bounce back game and had it against Notre Dame, scoring 18 points and dishing 8 assists. Gary Trent Jr has emerged as Dukes most consistent outside threat. The freshman is shooting 43.5% from 3 point range.
Duke will have to avoid being beaten off the dribble if they play man-to-man defensively. If Duke chooses to go zone, the Red Storm should be vulnerable as they are shooting under 32% from beyond the arc and only 43% from 2 point range. Duke on the offensive end will have to adjust to playing against a high level shot blocker. For the bigs that will mean finishing plays strong at the basket and utilizing interior passing between bigs could be huge factor. If the guards can drive the ball and dish it could be a very good way to neutralize the threat of a shot-blocker.
This stage of this game should be a welcome departure from the grind of the ACC schedule. Duke has played games in huge arenas this year so this shouldn't be an issue for the young Devils.
Projected Starting Lineups:
F Marvin Bagley III
F Wendell Carter Jr.
G Gary Trent Jr.
G Grayson Allen
G Trevon Duval
F Marvin Clark II
F Tariq Owens
G Bashir Ahmed
G Shamorie Ponds
G Justin Simon
- No. 4 Duke steps out of ACC action one final time for a date with St. John’s on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
- The inaugural “The Garf” honors the late Howard Garfinkel, who was devoted to running Five-Star Basketball Camp from 1966 to 2008 and providing guidance to countless college and NBA stars, and coaches, including Mike Krzyzewski.
- The game marks Duke’s 53rd appearance at current Madison Square Garden, and the Blue Devils are 34-18 in the venue (29-10 under head coach Coach K).
- Duke’s last game against St. John’s at MSG was a 77-68 win on January 25, 2015 -- the 1,000th career victory for Coach K.
- A win Saturday gives Duke its 22nd consecutive 20-win season and the program’s 53rd all-time.
- Duke is the only team ranked among the NCAA’s top 10 in scoring (90.2; 2nd), rebounds (43.1; 2nd) and assists (18.9; 4th). The Blue Devils are also third nationally in rebound margin (+10.7), seventh in field goal percentage (.509), and 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.54).
- Marvin Bagley III leads the ACC in scoring (21.5) and rebounding (11.4) and is second in the NCAA in double-doubles (17). Trevon Duval leads the ACC in assists (6.0), while Grayson Allen is third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.54).
- In conference games, Gary Trent, Jr., leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (.493). For the season, his .435 percentage leads all NCAA freshmen.