Game Preview by @RandyDunson – Duke Blue Devils vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers

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#6/3 Duke Blue Devils [5-1, 0-0] vs. #UR Appalachian State Mountaineers [2-2, 0-0]

November 26, 2016 • 12:00 PM ET • Durham, NC • Cameron Indoor Stadium

Media: Fox Sports South, Local Radio

By Randy Dunson [Note: Please direct comments, suggestions, etc. to @RandyDunson]

 

Team Overviews

Duke

Duke, winners of three in a row and ranked sixth nationally, will host Appalachian State Saturday in the programs’ first meeting since 1988.

Duke has won 128 consecutive non-conference home games, a streak that dates back to 2000. The Blue Devils have won 259 of their last 262 non-league games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils have won the third-most games (215) and have the fourth-best winning percentage (.817) in the nation this decade.

Duke ranks eighth nationally in three-point field goal defense with a mark of .224 on the year. It outscores its opponents by an average of 13.5 points per game from outside the arc.

Offensively, the Blue Devils lead the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency with a mark of 122.1 points per 100 possessions.

The Blue Devils currently have five double-digit scorer this season, led by Luke Kennard (17.0 points per game).

Frank Jackson (16.2), Grayson Allen (15.3), Amile Jefferson (13.3), and Matt Jones (11.8) round out the top scorers.

Duke is +6.3 in rebounding margin, outrebounding its opponents on average 39.5-33.2.

The Blue Devils are shooting 48.0 percent from the floor, but just 36.4 percent from three-point range.

They have gotten to the line 160 times in six games and are a 73.1 percent shooting team from the charity stripe.

Duke has taken care of the basketball this season and has a +2.2 turnover margin, which has also equated to a 1.2 assist/turnover ratio.

Notables:

  • Luke Kennard has been on a tear to open the season, leading Duke in scoring (17.0) and assists (4.0) while ranking second on the team in rebounds (6.8). He is shooting a team-best .467 (14-of-30) from outside the arc.
  • Amile Jefferson has recorded a double-double in three consecutive games, averaging 16.0 points and 13.3 boards while shooting .704 from the floor over that stretch.
  • Frank Jackson has scored in double figures in each of his six college games and has led Duke in scoring three times this season.
  • Matt Jones has played 153 of 160 available minutes over the last four games and leads Duke with an average of 36.5 minutes. He has still managed to shoot .412 (14-of-34) from beyond the arc.

Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Grayson Allen

Guard – Junior Matt Jones

Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard

Forward – Sophomore Chase Jeter

Forward – Grad Student Amile Jefferson


Appalachian State

Saturday’s matchup will be just the ninth all-time meeting between in-state foes Appalachian State and Duke. The Blue Devils lead the all-time series 7-1; all games have taken place at Duke.

The last time both teams matched up was a 110-74 Blue Devil victory almost 29 years ago to the day on November 28, 1987.

The lone Mountaineer victory in the series came in head coach Kevin Cantwell’s first season at the helm in App State’s second game of the season on December 5, 1981. The Mountaineers claimed a 75-70 win.

Current head coach Jim Fox is currently 1-2 against ACC opponents in his tenure at Appalachian State.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Mountaineers outrebounded their opponent and hold a +12.0 rebounding margin over its opponents so far this season. The Apps are 19-11 in such games under coach Fox.

The Mountaineers boast six players averaging at least 7.0 points per game this season: Ronshad Shabazz (17.5), Patrick Good (12.3), Jake Babic (9.0), Tyrell Johnson (8.5), Kelvin Robinson (8.3), and Emarius Logan (7.8).

Appalachian State is currently 26th in the nation in scoring with 89.3 points per game. The Black and Gold are also tied for 28th in the country in rebounds per game (43.5).

 

Eight players are averaging at least 3.0 rebounds per game with Kinney leading the way with 5.5 rebounds per game.

Notables:

  • NA

Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Ronshad Shabazz

Guard – Freshman Emarius Logan

Guard – Freshman Kelvin Robinson

Forward – Sophomore Tyrell Johnson

Forward – Junior Griffin Kenney


Last Time Out

Duke

The Blue Devils beat the William & Mary Tribe 88-67 on Wednesday night. Duke jumped out to a 46-30 lead at the half and they never looked back. Frank Jackson led the Blue Devils with 19 points (3/7 3’s). Allen went for 17 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Amile Jefferson was terrific going for 15 points and 10 rebounds. Duke shot 50 percent from the field while the Tribe shot 43 percent.

A big key in the contest was rebounding as Duke outrebounded William & Mary 39-25. Kennard added 11 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. All five Blue Devil starters scored in double-figures.

Notables:

  • Duke: This felt like business as usual for this group of Blue Devils, who can always seem to count on a big run to blow past an overmatched nonconference visitor. They used essentially a six-man rotation during the pre-garbage time portion of the game while cruising to their 128th straight non-ACC win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.


Appalachian State

The Mountaineers beat the Hartford Hawks 70-61 on Wednesday. Shabazz led the Mountaineers with 28 points (10/22 FG) and eight rebounds. Isaac Johnson was the only other Appalachian State player in double-figures with 11 points. Johnson also had seven rebounds and four blocks in 20 minutes. Appalachian State shot 43 percent while holding the Hawks to 40 percent.

The Mountaineers took control to begin the second half as they had a 19-4 run to build an 18 point lead. A key in the contest was rebounding as the Mountaineers out-rebounded the Hawks 41-30. Both teams had their struggles in taking care of the ball. Hartford had 17 turnovers and Appalachian State had 14.

Notables:

  • William & Mary: All the Tribe have proven so far is that they are not one of the nation’s Top 10 teams. No shame in losing either to Duke or to No. 10 Louisville, as they have done in the past nine days, and they made Duke work much harder than the Cardinals did when they beat them by 33.

Head-to-Head

(Covered in text above)

[NB: Unfortunately, vendor site that I use for comprehensive coverage is down; should be ready for MSU. Some statistics will be noted in other sections though.]
Duke 2015-16 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Appalachian State
PPG (Scoring Margin)
Opponents PPG
Effective FG%
FG%
Opponent FG%
3PT FG%
Opponent 3PT FG%
RPG (Rebound Margin)
Opponent RPG
FT%
APG
SPG (%)
Turnovers Per Game (Margin)
Opponent TOPG
BPG
Fouls Per Game

Four Factors to Winning

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics] [If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here, https://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]


Key Points to Consider

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics]

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

Summary

Just when the Mountaineers began winning games, they are scheduled to run into a wall that is Duke this coming Saturday. Appalachian State shook off a pair of losses to begin the season before getting back-to-back wins over fellow minnows Warren Wilson and Hartford.

The Mountaineers know how to score, as they are burning the hoop for 89.3 PPG. Their two best scorers are Ronshad Shabazz and Patrick Good, who are averaging 17.5 PPG and 12.3 PPG, respectively. Shabazz went off for 28 points in the Hartford game, while Good disappeared, scoring just five points.

Rebounding will be key for the Appalachian State in order to slow down Duke, which is currently tops in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency per Kenpom.com. The Mountaineers are 28th overall nationally with 43.5 RPG.

After suffering a heartbreaking 77-75 loss to Kansas last week, the Blue Devils went back to their winning ways, ripping together three-straight victories.

Like Appalachian State, the Blue Devils have a high-scoring offense, one that averages 84.3 PPG. Against William & Mary on Wednesday, they shot 50.0% from the field on their way to a decisive 88-67 victory.

The Blue Devils have a deeper lineup than Appalachian State, though, with five players averaging double figures in scoring led by Luke Kennard’s 17.0 PPG.

Freshman Frank Jackson, meanwhile, is already making his mark in the college scene, as he is putting up 16.2 PPG.

Kennard and company could exploit a seemingly porous perimeter defense, which allows opponents to shoot 40.0% from beyond the arc. Kennard leads the team with 14 threes on the season, while Jackson and Grayson Allen have 12 and 11, respectively.

Notables:

  • INJURY REPORT
    • Duke’s three injured freshmen — Harry Giles, Marques Bolden, and Jayson Tatum — seem to be getting closer to playing. They have still yet to check into a game, but for the first time they were in uniform, and Giles and Bolden even took part in warm-ups. Those three were a big reason why the Blue Devils were picked No. 1 in the preseason.
    • “In the transition from serious injury, it’s not just physical, it’s mental, psychological,” Krzyzewski said. “I just think, to put on your uniform, to do warm-ups as much as you can, to be more a part of a team is something, we want to transition to that. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just do not know how long the tunnel is. Days like today help.”

Endgame

Duke started off the game against William & Mary sloppy and sluggish but turned on the offensive and defensive intensity getting shots and regaining their swagger. Duke will look to build on that against App State.

Duke should be able to go to its bench as it did against W&M and let players like Grayson Allen and Chase Jeter further heal and with the amount of minutes for Duke starters starting to add up the bench will become more crucial going forward.

The Devils will use this game to work and prepare for its matchup with Michigan State and get a good offensive flow and shore up holes in transition and post defense.

Duke is Duke. Everyone knows what they are capable of doing and that App State will be a prohibitive underdog.

Again, the Mountaineers just need to run their stuff. If they execute well they will have some success against Duke. The result on the scoreboard is not the only measure of accomplishment. Appalachian will have to recognize small victories within the war and take as many as they can.

What cannot be measured in the box score is the amount of fight that App State puts out on the floor. They have to battle and make Duke earn whatever they get. If the Mountaineers can make Duke work hard for 40 minutes there is a measure of success in that.

This said, App State is not to be overlooked as the Devils learned from the William & Mary. I feel that Duke will overwhelm the Mountaineers, 95-74.