Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Stanford Cardinal

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Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (4-0, 0-0] vs. Stanford Cardinal (3-0, 0-0]

Coaches vs. Cancer Classic • Saturday, November 22, 2014 • 9:30 PM • TruTV • Brooklyn, N.Y. • Barclays Center (17,732)

 

1. Snapshot

Duke

Duke (4-0) is in Brooklyn to face Stanford (3-0) at the Barclays Center Saturday, November 22 in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Tipoff is set for 9:30 PM with TruTV televising the contest. The Blue Devils are 7-2 all-time in Coaches vs. Cancer contests, including wins over Presbyterian (November 14), Fairfield (November 15), and Temple (November 21) this season. Duke has won its last seven games in the event, capturing the 2008 Coaches vs. Cancer title in the process.

Duke is playing Stanford for the second time in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Cardinal won the first meeting 80-79 in overtime Nov. 11, 1999. Duke is 51-10 (.836) in neutral site games this decade (start of 2009-10 season). Mike Krzyzewski has led Duke to an 81-16 (.835) record in in-season tournaments with 16 championships.

Duke is ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 61-13 all-time when ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll. Stanford enters the game unranked in both polls. Duke is playing its fifth game in a nine-day span to open the season.

The Blue Devils are playing their second set of back-to-back games after opening the year with wins over Presbyterian (November 14) and Fairfield (November 15). Seven different Blue Devils have scored in double-figures this season with Quinn Cook, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow reaching double figures in all four contests. Saturday’s game marks the first meeting between Mike Krzyzewski and Johnny Dawkins. Dawkins is the second leading scorer in Duke history (2,556 points) and spent 11 seasons as a member of the Blue Devil coaching staff.

Stanford

Stanford has an opportunity for an early-season signature victory, squaring off against Duke on Saturday night in the championship game of the Northwestern Mutual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center. The Cardinal is coming off a convincing 89-60 win over UNLV on Friday night. Senior guard Chasson Randle scored 18 points (6-10 3FG), leading four players in double figures. Stanford knocked down nine of its 14 three-pointers in the first half and held a 47-29 rebounding advantage. Senior guard/forward Anthony Brown grabbed nine rebounds as four Stanford players tallied at least six boards. The Cardinal also dished out 19 assists on 31 buckets.

Stanford is participating in its sixth preseason tournament under head coach Johnny Dawkins. The Cardinal has compiled a 13-8 record in such games, with its best performances coming in the form of runner-up finishes at the 2013 Progressive Legends Classic (lost to Pittsburgh), 2011 Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off (lost to Syracuse) and 2009 Cancun Challenge (lost to Kentucky). Stanford is searching for its first preseason tournament title since capturing the 2007 Basketball Travelers Classic with a 67-48 victory over UC Santa Barbara at Maples Pavilion.

Saturday’s game marks the first matchup between head coach Johnny Dawkins and head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Dawkins, who is 120-87 entering his seventh season, became Stanford’s 17th head coach on April 28, 2008, after 11 years as an assistant to Krzyzewski at Duke. One of the most decorated players in Blue Devil history, Dawkins finished his career in 1986 as the school’s all-time leading scorer and was part of three NCAA Tournament squads, leading Duke to a runner-up finish in the 1986 NCAA title game. A two-time consensus All-American, Dawkins was named the 1986 Naismith National Player of the Year.

 

2. Team Seasons Thus Far

Duke Blue Devils

In its last outing, Duke super freshman Okafor, just four games into his college career, got a lesson in the tough, physical, inside game of basketball, and learned a little. Okafor had 16 points and eight rebounds in his introduction to the rough-and-tumble world of New York City basketball, and No. 4 Duke overcame an off night from the field in coasting to a 74-54 victory over Temple in the semifinals of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Okafor needs to learn how to adjust when teams get physical, both in college and later in the pros. Quinn Cook had 17 points and freshman Justise Winslow added 15 for the Blue Devils, who shot 31 percent from the field in the first half before warming up a little in the second on a cold, chilly night in the Big Apple. Freshman point guard Tyus Jones added seven assists on a night Duke shot 39 percent from the field. The Blue Devils made up for their poor shooting, forcing 17 turnovers while holding Temple to 37 percent shooting from the field, including 1-of-12 from long range. Will Cummings had 18 points for Temple (2-1), whose scrappy defense frustrated Duke, which more than a few times looked at the officials for a little help. The crew did not listen and the game was played like an old Big East Conference game, with lots of pushing and contact in the paint that did not get many whistles.
Overall, Mike Krzyzewski has started three or more freshmen in a game 39 times at Duke, including all four games this season. Coach K started three or more freshmen 27 times during the 1982-83 season. Stanford is one of four NCAA Division I schools that Duke has played but not yet recorded a win. The Blue Devils are 0-2 all-time against Stanford. Duke is also 0-2 all-time versus St. Peter’s and 0-1 against LIU-Brooklyn and St. Bonaventure.

Quinn Cook scored in double figures and made at least three three-point field goals in all four contests this season. He enters tonight’s contest averaging 16.8 points per game, while shooting 50.0 percent (13-of-26) from behind the three-point arc. Duke’s top-rated freshmen class, Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow, combines to average 52.2 points per game while shooting an efficient 56.1 percent (61-of-130) from the field. The group has combined for 11 of Duke’s 17 double figure scoring games this season.

The Blue Devils have trailed for just 18 seconds through the first four games of the season. Duke trailed Fairfield 2-0 before hitting a three-point field goal on the following possession to take the lead. The Blue Devils led wire-to-wire in wins over Presbyterian, Michigan State, and Temple. Tyus Jones recorded seven assists in the win over Temple to lead the Blue Devils in that category for the third time in four games. The freshman guard ranks sixth in the ACC in assists (5.8 APG) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.75:1). Duke has made 30 more three-point field goals than its opposition on the year. The Blue Devils are 39-of-90 (.433) with the opposition going just 9-of-58 (.155) from behind the arc. Cook has 13 threes on the year and leads the ACC in three-point field goals (3.25 3PG). Despite going just 7-of-20 from the field in the win over Temple, Jahlil Okafor still ranks fifth in the ACC with a .640 (32-of-50) field goal percentage. He has made seven or more field goals in all four contests. Okafor (17.3 PPG) and Justise Winslow (15.8 PPG) rank seventh and 13th, respectively, in scoring in the ACC. They are the only two freshman in the conference to rank in the top 15 of that category. Amile Jefferson continues to be active on the glass averaging a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game, including 3.75 offensive per game.

Stanford

In its last outing, Chasson Randle scored all of his 18 points on three-pointers and Stanford put on a show from long range in rolling to an 89-60 victory over UNLV in the semifinals of the Northwestern Mutual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Friday night. Anthony Brown added 18 points and Rosco Allen chipped in with 15 as the Cardinal (3-0) scored the first 12 points on 3-point shooting, shot 57.1 percent from the field in the first half and never looked back in the game at Barclays Center.

Christian Wood had 12 points to lead UNLV (2-1), which shot itself out of the game making three of its first 14 shots. Rashad Vaughn, who averaged 22 points for the Runnin’ Rebels in the first two games, was held seven points on 2-9 shooting.

Stanford made nine of its 14 3-pointers in the first half in opening a 23-point lead at the intermission. The Cardinal also dominated on the boards, outrebounding UNLV 47-29. The game was basically over in the first 11 minutes as the Cardinal jumped to a 36-10 lead with 9:16 to play after Randle hit his third and fourth 3-pointers. The senior finished with five in the half and six for the game, one below his career high. Randle was also in the middle of the game-opening 12-point run, sandwiching the first and last of the long-range barrage around 3-pointers by Brown and Allen.

Overall, Stanford is led by three main scorers, Brown, Nastic, and Randle. Freshman forward Reid Travis and Allen round out the top five. The Cardinal makes the most of its possessions. However, does not force many turnovers.

In terms of point distribution, Stanford is shooting the ball fairly well. They are shooting 2-pointers at 49.4% and their three-point percentage is 23.1%. Free throws account for 27.5%. On the defensive end, they teams are at 51.0% when shooting two-pointers and 28.1% on three-point shots. Twenty-one percent are from free throws.

 

3. Head-to-Head

Stanford has won both previous meetings against Duke, most recently 84-83 back on Dec. 21, 2000 at the Pete Newell Challenge when the Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 in both polls. The Cardinal’s other win was an 80-79 overtime triumph on Nov. 11, 1999 in the season opener as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in New York.

[Comparative statistics will start being displayed and discussed after Duke has played five games.]

 

4. Four Factors to Winning

[Will be displayed after Duke has played five games.]

 

5. Key Points to Consider

A few points to consider from Duke’s perspective:

  • Bench production – must see better contributions off the bench in terms of scoring, bench production can go a lot towards offsetting any fatigue from the quick game turnaround for Duke.
  • Rebounding – still a work in progress as illustrated in the Temple game where no player topped over 6’8”
  • Okafor’s post defense – he is still maturing but must strengthen this part of his game
  • Hit open three’s – All teams will seek to double- and triple-team Okafor, so hitting three-pointers is crucial in close games

 

6. Endgame

A classic matchup between the student and the mentor is on tap Saturday night in Brooklyn. It is not exactly something that Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski are looking forward to. Dawkins will face the man who he played for and coached under for the first time when his Cardinal try to upset the fourth-ranked Blue Devils in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic championship.

The Cardinal have been highly effective on the offensive end through their three games, shooting a healthy .482 from the floor. Stanford broke out of a shooting slump with 14 3-pointers on 20 attempts Friday after going five of 21 in its first two games. Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown combined for 10 3-pointers and each scored 18. The team has been able to control the boards as well, averaging 40.7 RPG and holds a +13.0 rebounding advantage. Senior guard Chasson Randle leads the team with 17.7 PPG. Balance comes down low with senior center Stefan Nastic, who adds 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Yet more veterans, senior Anthony Brown (15.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG) and junior Roscoe Allen (11.0 PPG) provide valuable leadership, while freshman Reid Travis (10.3 PPG) gives the team a youthful contributor.

In the lopsided win over UNLV, the Cardinal were red-hot shooting the basketball, including an impressive 14-of-20 from behind the arc. Randle was a big part of that, as he dropped in 18 points, thanks entirely to his 6-of-10 effort from 3-point range. Brown matched Randle’s scoring output with 18 points of his own, while Allen and Nastic finished with 15 and 10 points, respectively.

It wasn’t the best offensive showing for Duke on Friday, as Temple got physical with the Blue Devils, who clearly didn’t like that style of play. The Blue Devils shot just .391 from the floor, including a mere 7-of-23 from long range. Guard Quinn Cook led the way for Duke with 17 points. Freshman center Jahlil Okafor was not far behind with 16 points, but it was volume driven, as Temple contested everything inside from the big man, who was just 7-of-20 from the floor. Fellow freshman Justise Winslow added 15 points for Duke, which played tight defense in holding Temple to just a .373 shooting performance and forcing 17 turnovers.

With the exception of Friday’s outing, Duke has really had no problems offensively. The Blue Devils are averaging a whopping 94.3 PPG. Okafor has lived up to his billing as the nation’s top recruit, as the 7-foot youngster is shooting .640 from the floor and leads the team with 17.3 PPG. Quinn Cook is a close second at 16.8 PPG. Winslow (15.8 PPG), and Tyus Jones (10.8 PPG) add to the youth movement for the Blue Devils.

This matchup has plenty of intrigue, including the long time relationship between Dawkins and Krzyzewski. Okafor will be facing his biggest challenge to date in the form of Stanford’s Nastic. Moreover, Dawkins will try to devise a way to slow down Okafor, who had his first rough effort with a season-low 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting. One important factor is Stanford’s size. As Krzyzewski stated. ”They’re big, they’re huge. Johnny has a really good system, how he uses them. This one should be fun to watch, but Duke’s depth in the end should once again prove to be the difference.