Friday the 3 - 0 Duke Blue Devils will take on the 0-3 Southern Jaguars in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke is coming off of a battle in the United Center with the number 2 Michigan Spartans, a game in which Grayson cemented his status as a player of the year candidate with 37 points on 11-20 shooting. Duke downed the Spartans 88-81 in a game where freshman phenom Marvin Bagley played only 10 minutes, leaving with what was later called a scratched eye. The inadvertent injury, caused by a poke from forward Duke forward Javin DeLaurier, was not serious from all accounts but Bailey was held out for precautionary measures - he is expected to play against Southern.
The Jaguars are already having a tough season starting 0-3 with their latest loss coming at the hands of the Missouri State Bears 86-58 on Wednesday. The Jaguars shot just 27 percent in the first half, finished at 30 and turned it over 16 times. Southern starts a much older lineup than Duke but that experience has not paid dividends so far this season. Senior forward Jared Sam leads the Jags in scoring at nearly 17 points a game and rebounds at 8 per game so far this season. Sam has score 21 twice this season and is shooting 78% from the free throw line. Sam is joined in the starting lineup by LaQuentin Collins, Jamar Sandifer, Eddie Reese and Patrick Smith.
For Duke not much will change in their approach although the zone that Duke utilized against Michigan State I don’t see being employed very much at all against Southern unless Coach K and company decide to practice it or to use it to conserve energy during this stretch of 9 games in 20 days. With a game in 3 days and another 3 days after that I look for Coach K to employ the entire bench and keep the rotation active throughout the game.
Duke should look to feed the bigs and work on preparing them for the upcoming PK80 as well as the ACC Season. With such a young core, repetition will be key and while Southern may not be able to match Duke they will allow Duke to run their sets and get important burn for its young players.
Southern is a veteran team and I expect them to play hard and play with purpose despite the obvious talent disparity, here are some key stats: