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Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs. Toledo Rockets

By December 29, 2014No Comments

Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (10-0, 0-0] vs. Toledo Rockets (7-4, 0-0]

Monday, December 29. 2014 • 7:00 PM • ESPN2 • Durham, N.C. • Cameron Indoor Stadium

By Randy Dunson

1. Snapshot


Duke (10-0) returns to action following a 10-day layoff with a home contest against Toledo (7-4) Monday, December 29. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM with ESPN2 televising the contest. The Blue Devils are looking to open the season with 11 straight wins for the 15th time in school history and the 11th time under Mike Krzyzewski.

Duke enters the game ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Blue Devils are 116-18 when ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll. Toledo is unranked in both polls. Duke has won 28 straight games in the month of December dating back to a December 2, 2009 loss at Wisconsin. The Blue Devils have won 38 consecutive games at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the fourth longest streak in Duke and ACC history. Duke has won a school record and active NCAA-best 114 straight non-conference home games, more than twice as many as the next closest school (Illinois – 42).


Toledo (7-4) faces its biggest challenge of the 2014-15 campaign when it takes on No. 2 Duke (10-0) on Monday, December 29 at 7:00 PM. The Rockets are riding a season-high five-game winning streak following an 83-69 road win over McNeese State on December 20. The Blue Devils have been idle since a 66-56 triumph over Connecticut on December 18 and have an NCAA-best 38-game home court winning streak.

2. Team Seasons Thus Far

Duke Blue Devils

In its last outing, Tyus Jones scored 21 points and added six rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead the Blue Devils to a 66-56 win over Connecticut at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. Duke starters accounted for all 66 points in the win as Jahlil Okafor (12), Justise Winslow (12), Amile Jefferson (11) and Quinn Cook (10) also scored in double figures. Jefferson grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with 11 points for his second double-double of the season. Duke posted a 40-29 rebounding advantage including a 14-8 edge on the offensive glass. Blue Devil starters combined for 34 of the team’s rebounds.

Game Notes

  • Duke started 10-0 during the 2012, 2010, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, and 2000 seasons (since 1996)
  • The win over Connecticut extended the Duke winning streak to 10 games
  • The Blue Devils set season highs for blocks (5) and turnovers (19)
  • The last time Duke recorded at least 19 turnovers was November 27, 2013 against Alabama
  • Duke set season lows for assists (10), field goals made (18), field goal percentage (37.5), and total points (66)
  • The Blue Devils have recorded more rebounds than their opponents for the past seven games
  • Tyus Jones recorded a team season high in free throws made with nine
  • Tyus Jones accounted for 31.8 percent of the team’s points
  • Amile Jefferson accounted for 32.5 percent of the team’s rebounds
  • Amile Jefferson has led the team in rebounding in six out of 10 games this season
  • This marks the second 20-point game of Tyus Jones’s career
  • Jahlil Okafor has 10 straight double-digit point games
  • Amile Jefferson recorded the 13th double-digit rebound game of his career
  • Amile Jefferson recorded a double-double. It was his second this season and fourth of his career

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

  • The Blue Devils are one of eight remaining undefeated teams in the NCAA. Duke is the only team in that group to win each game by 10 or more points
  • Duke has won each of the first 10 games by 10 or more points, marking the first time in program history it has accomplished that feat
  • The Blue Devils have trailed for just 5:01 through the first 10 games of the season. Duke’s largest deficit this season has been four points
  • Duke is averaging 96.6 points per game while shooting 57.5 percent from the field in five games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils have a +33.2 scoring margin in those contests
  • Freshmen Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow have started all 10 games for the Blue Devils. Mike Krzyzewski has started three or more freshmen in a game 45 times at Duke, including 27 times during the 1982-83 season
  • Duke’s top-rated freshman class, Grayson Allen, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow – combines to average 45.1 points per game while shooting an efficient 53.5 percent (155-of-290) from the field. The group has accounted for 23 of Duke’s 42 double figure scoring games
  • Duke is 184-26 (.876) in the month of December under Mike Krzyzewski, including an active 28-game win streak in the month

Individual Player Highlights

  • Jahlil Okafor and Amile Jefferson each rank in the top 10 of the ACC in rebounds at 8.9 RPG and 8.4 RPG, respectively. The last time Duke had two players average 8.0 rebounds or better for a season was 1994-95 when Cherokee Parks (9.3 RPG) and Erik Meek (8.3 RPG) accomplished the feat
  • Quinn Cook has made at least one three-point field goal in each of the past 20 games. He is shooting 40.0 percent (48-of-116) from behind the arc in that stretch. Cook is second in the ACC in three-point field goals (2.60 3PG) this season
  • Duke’s starting frontcourt of Okafor and Jefferson combines to average 26.9 points and 17.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 65.7 percent (113-of-172) from the field
  • Tyus Jones is averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.3 steals per game over the past four contests. He is 16-of-31 (.516) from the field and 26-of-32 (.813) from the foul line in that stretch. Jones has two 20-point games in that stretch, including a team-high 21 points in Duke’s win over Connecticut
  • Okafor, a four-time ACC Rookie of the Week selection, ranks among the league leaders in scoring (3rd – 17.4 PPG), rebounds (5th – 8.9 RPG), offensive rebounds (1st – 4.1 ORPG), and blocks (9th – 1.5 BPG).
  • Jefferson is 23-of-31 (.742) from the field over the past five games and is averaging 10.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game (3.2 ORPG) in that span
  • Okafor has been outstanding at Cameron Indoor Stadium averaging 21.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game. He is 47-of-62 (.758) from the field at home and has made eight or more field goals in all five contests
  • Okafor has the highest field goal percentage (.652) in the NCAA among players attempting 10 or more shots per game. Okafor has shot over 60.0 percent from the field in seven of Duke’s 10 games
  • Duke starters scored all 66 points in the win over Connecticut marking the first time since the 2010-11 season Duke’s bench failed to score in a game. Duke reserves have been held scoreless in a game just 23 times under Mike Krzyzewski


In its last outing, Toledo got a win on the road against McNeese State 83-69 on Saturday, December. 20. The game lacked drama, as Toledo led 47-30 at the half and never allowed McNeese State back in it. The Rockets got the win with 12 points and eight rebounds from J.D. Weatherspoon. Nathan Boothe also had a strong outing, scoring 10 points and adding eight rebounds. Desharick Guidry recorded a double-double for the Cowboys with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Rockets are on a five-game win streak. Toledo (7-4, 0-0 MAC) goes to second-ranked Duke (10-0, 0-0 ACC) on Monday, Dec. 29.
Game Notes

  • Toledo started 7-4 during the 2011, 2005, and 1997 seasons (since 1996).
  • The win over McNeese State extended the Toledo winning streak to five games.
  • The Rockets have won every game this season (4-0) after recording 83 or more total points.
  • Toledo has won every game this season (4-0) when its three-point percentage has been 47.1 percent or better.
  • Toledo has won every game this season (7-0) when opponents record 69 or fewer total points.
  • Toledo has won 88 percent of the time this season (7-1) after holding an opponent to under 43.6 percent field goal percentage.
  • This season Toledo has won 71 percent of the time (5-2) when Julius Brown has 15 points or more.
  • Toledo set season lows for steals (2) and turnovers (5).
  • The Rockets have outshot their opponents in free throw percentage for the past six games.
  • Toledo has recorded fewer steals than their opponents for the past four games.
  • J.D. Weatherspoon has led the team in rebounding in nine out of 11 games this season.
  • J.D. Weatherspoon has three straight double-digit point games.
  • Justin Drummond has three straight double-digit point games.
  • Julius Brown has four straight double-digit point games.
  • Nathan Boothe had a career high with a 100 percent three-point percentage.

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

Team Highlights

  • Toledo is in its 100th year of basketball and the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference by numerous publications. UT is in search of its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1980 after posting a school-record 27-7 win-loss mark last year. Head Coach Tod Kowalczyk has guided the Rockets to a 68-41 (.624) win-loss mark since the start of the 2011-12 season.
  • Four of five Rocket starters possess double-figure scoring averages to help Toledo rank second in the MAC with 77.5 PPG. A member of the 2015 Bob Cousy Award Watch List, senior guard Julius Brown leads the Rockets and ranks second and third in the MAC, respectively, with a 52.5 3PTFG% (32-of-61) and 15.9 PPG. Also scoring in double figures for UT are senior forward J.D. Weatherspoon (12.6), senior guard Justin Drummond (12.6, 77.3 FT%) and sophomore guard Jonathan Williams (10.9, 35 3 PTFG%).
  • Toledo ranks sixth nationally (as of December 25) with a MAC-best 76.7 free-throw percentage. Freshman guard Kurt Hall leads the league with a 95.2 mark and is followed by junior center Nathan Boothe (90.9) and Brown (89.5)

Player Highlights

  • Brown has started all 109 games of his collegiate career at point guard and Boothe has been UT’s starting center in 72-of-73 contests. The one game Boothe didn’t take the floor as part of the starting five was last year’s Senior Day contest vs. EMU
  • Brown has been red-hot from long distance with a 63.3 3PTFG% (19-of-30) over his last five contests. He tied his career best with seven treys (in eight attempts) vs. Robert Morris on December 17
  • Weatherspoon leads UT with 7.5 RPG and a 53.8 FG% after registering his fifth career double-double (20 points, 14 rebounds) vs. RMU, He also possesses a team-high 22 dunks.

3. Head-to-Head

Duke leads 1-0. UT suffered an 82-54 loss in Durham on December 12, 2004 in the only previous meeting.

In terms of a few key offensive and defensive statistical parameters, Duke leads in all except for 3PT FG%, which gives the Blue Devils a significant statistical edge head-to-head.

Duke 2014-15 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Toledo (Toledo)
85.4 (+28.6) PPG (Scoring Margin) 77.5 (+9.2)
60.2 Opponents PPG 68.6
59.1 Effective FG% 53.5
52.3 FG% 47.2
40.5 Opponent FG% 42.5
37.1 3PT FG% 38.8
26.6 Opponent 3PT FG% 34.5
38.5 (+8.8) RPG (Rebound Margin) 35.5 (+3.7)
29.3 Opponent RPG 33.2
17.6 APG 14.6
8.7 SPG 6.3
11.1 (+4.8) Turnovers Per Game (Margin) 13.4 (+1.9)
14.6 Opponent TOPG 13.8
4.0 BPG 3.4


4. Four Factors to Winning


Duke holds a slight edge in all factors. When looking at eFG%, it is 59.1% to 53.5%. In terms of handling the ball, the Blue Devils have the edge in (19.4% vs. 16.3%). In offensive rebounding, the edge is 39.1% vs. 33.6%), and finally, when it comes to getting to the free throw line (41.1% vs. 43.5%).


 5. Key Points to Consider

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


  • Makes the most of its possessions
  • Does not send teams to the line often

Toledo (Toledo)

  • Two main scorers (Boatwright/Brimah)
  • Stingy defense
  • Commits few fouls

Now, a few key points to consider from Duke’s perspective. These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.

  • Rust…again
    • Duke has not played in 11 days
    • Toledo has not played in 9 days
    • Duke has shown definitive signs of rust after layoffs, but will Toledo follow?
  • Fast start
    • Duke absolutely must get off to a fast start
  • Bench Production
    • With the exception of Rasheed Sulaimon the bench production has to pick up
    • They will good test in this and the Wofford game but will others produce?

6. Endgame

Given that Duke looked sluggish at times in two victories following a 12-day break, Mike Krzyzewski has to be wondering if his team will respond in similar fashion after an 11-day layoff. Regardless, the second-ranked Blue Devils should have more than enough firepower to extend the nation’s longest active home winning streak Monday night against Toledo.

The Duke Blue Devils are off to a 10-0 start to the season and are ranked number two in the nation. Duke is averaging 85.4 points and they are shooting 52.3 percent from the floor while defensively they are allowing 60.2 points and their opponents are shooting 40.5 percent. Jahlil Okafor leads the Blue Devils averaging 17.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Quinn Cook is averaging 13.9 points, Justise Winslow is averaging 12 points, and Tyus Jones is averaging 10.9 points and 5.3 assists. Duke has won by double digits in every game this year.

The Toledo Rockets are 7-4 this season and they have won five games in a row. Toledo is averaging 77.5 points and they are shooting 47.2 percent from the floor while defensively they are allowing 68.6 points and their opponents are shooting 42.5 percent. Julius Brown leads the Rockets averaging 15.9 points per game. J.D. Weatherspoon is averaging 12.6 points and 7.5 rebounds, Justin Drummond is averaging 12.6 points, and Jonathan Williams is averaging 10.9 points. Toledo is 2-3 on the road this season.

The Blue Devils (10-0) claimed one of the most impressive wins by any team this season, shooting 65.2 percent in an 80-70 victory at then-No. 2 Wisconsin on Dec. 3. They were lackluster in a 75-62 win over Elon on Dec. 15, however, getting outscored 41-39 in the second half and committing 17 turnovers. They shot a season-worst 37.5 percent and had a season-high 19 turnovers in a 66-56 win over Connecticut in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on December 18, only taking control with a 15-2 run early in the second half after a fiery display by Krzyzewski during a timeout.

Regarding the UConn game, “It just shows the passion he has for the game,” said Tyus Jones, who had 21 points after scoring four versus Elon. “It shows how much the game means to him. He still has that passion. We weren’t playing well and he let us know it. He still has that, depending on the situation. That’s when he gets on us. We deserved that.”

Fellow freshman Jahlil Okafor faced a number of double teams against Connecticut, scoring 12 points on a season-low five shots. Duke largely failed to capitalize on all the attention on Okafor, going 5 for 19 from 3-point range, the third time in four games it has shot 26.3 percent or worse. The team had shot 41.0 percent from deep in its previous six games.

“Our guys need to be ready to shoot the ball when he does hit them, or have a fast shot fake and drive,” Krzyzewski said. ” …Those are going to be staples of us trying to take advantage of double teams. Our guys can do that. We just have to keep working at it.”

The Blue Devils, who seek their 39th straight home victory, have won their first 10 games by 10-plus points for the first time in team history, trailing for only 5:01 and never by more than four points.

The Rockets (7-4) have won five in a row, though those opponents are a combined 22-34. They’ve averaged 81.5 points and shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range in the last four. Justin Drummond was one of four players in double figures with a season-high 17 points in an 83-69 win at McNeese State on December 20.

Toledo shot 50.0 percent but committed 21 turnovers in an 87-78 loss at then-No. 15 VCU on November 18, its only matchup against a ranked opponent. They Rockets lost their only other game against a major conference team, shooting 37.9 percent in an 78-68 defeat at Oregon three days later.

Toledo has dropped 10 straight against ranked teams since an 81-76 win at No. 14 Michigan State on December 30, 2002.

Toledo’s ability to spread the ball around on offense has made them impossible to completely shut down. Even so, Toledo will likely have to exhaust themselves on defense in order to keep Duke in line. The Rockets will need to play tough defense at the beginning of this game in order to set the tone.

The Duke Blue Devils will keep scoring at will. While Toledo knows how to defend they won’t be able to completely stop a motivated and undefeated Duke team. Look for Duke to make their mark by attacking the boards and getting plenty of second chance opportunities to score.

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