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Game Preview by @RandyDunson – Duke Blue Devils vs. University of Louisville Cardinals

By January 13, 2017No Comments

Game Preview

#7/7 Duke Blue Devils [14-3, 2-2] vs. #14/15 University of Louisville (UoL) Cardinals [14-3, 2-2]

January 14, 2017 • 12:00 PM ET • Louisville, KY • KFC Yum! Center

Media: ESPN, Watch ESPN Link, Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

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

Team Overviews


Seventh-ranked Duke will face a ranked team on the road for the second straight game when it visits No. 14/15 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

With just six players who have reached double figures in games played, Duke has utilized seven different starting lineups in 17 games this season.

It is likely that they will start small against Louisville, as it is now unlikely that Duke power forward Amile Jefferson will play per an ESPN report Friday morning.


  • Led by Luke Kennard (20.4), Duke has five players averaging double figures. DU has an effective field goal percentage of .551 and ranks seventh nationally in offensive efficiency (119.8).
    • Kennard is one of two ACC players, alongside Pitt’s Jamel Artis, to rank in the top five in the league in both scoring (4th, 20.4) and field goal percentage (4th, .532).
    • Kennard has played the most total minutes in the ACC (598) and ranks second in minutes per game (35.18), just fractionally behind Artis.
  • Grayson Allen has assumed primary point guard duties in Duke’s reconfigured rotation. In ACC games, he leads the league with an average of 7.7 assists per game and ranks fourth with a 2.56 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • Jayson Tatum leads Duke in blocks (1.7) and steals (2.0) per game. He is averaging 2.5 steals per game in ACC play, tied for second in the league.
    • Tatum is the second-leading freshman scorer in ACC play with an average of 20.0 per night. He has eclipsed the 20-point mark in Duke’s last two games.
  • Matt Jones is 8-of-17 (.471) from outside the arc in Duke’s last three games.

Probable Starters

Guard – Junior Grayson Allen

Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard

Guard – Senior Matt Jones

Forward – Freshman Jayson Tatum

Forward – Freshman Harry Giles

University of Louisville

Louisville will play its second of three straight at home in the KFC Yum! Center as the Cardinals face the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday. Louisville won for the ninth time in its last 11 games in beating Pittsburgh

85-80 on Wednesday as Quentin Snider led the Cardinals with 22 points and five assists and Donovan Mitchell added 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals. UoL had a 45-30 rebounding advantage and led by as many as 26 points early in the second half.

Duke (14-3, 2-2 ACC), ranked seventh by both AP and USA Today, has won 12 of its last 14 games, but lost 88-72 at Florida State on January 10 in its last game. The Blue Devils had won 10 straight before falling at Virginia Tech on December 31 in their only other ACC loss.


  • Louisville posted a collective 3.18 grade point average for the recently completed 2016 fall semester, with 10 men’s basketball student athletes achieving a 3.0 or better GPA.
  • Louisville is second in the nation in blocked shots (6.8 BPG). UoL had 12 blocks at Ga. Tech.
  • Louisville has won at least 14 of its first 17 games for the fifth straight season. The Cards’ best start in that stretch was 16-1 during UoL’s 2012-13 NCAA Championship year.
  • Donovan Mitchell is tied for the ACC lead and is 18th in the nation in steals (2.2 per game). He had five steals at Notre Dame, the second-most of his career. His 38 steals in 17 games is 13 more than he had his entire freshman year.
  • Louisville has a 35-16 record during the month of January over the last seven years, including a 19-7 record in the last four years.
  • Louisville has a 30-8 record in its conference home games over the last five years (.789), including an 8-1 record last season in ACC games in the KFC Yum! Center.
  • UoL Coach Rick Pitino, who has a 405-137 record in his 16th season at Louisville, won his 400th victory with the Cardinals on December 10.
  • He won his 750th career collegiate victory when the Cards beat Wichita State on November 24.
  • He is one of five active coaches with at least 750 victories.
  • Louisville’s 160 victories over the last six years are the fifth-most wins in the nation in that stretch. The Cards are one of just three teams to win at least 30 games in three of the last five seasons (30-10 in 2011-12, 35-5 in ‘12-13, 31-6 in ‘13-14).
  • Louisville is one of just four schools, which have won 20 or more games in each of the last 14 seasons (also Kansas, Duke, and Gonzaga).

Probable Starters

Guard – Junior Quentin Snider

Guard – Sophomore Donavan Mitchell

Forward – Sophomore Ray Spaulding

Forward – Sophomore Deng Adel

Center – Junior Anas Mahmoud

Last Time Out


Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half, helping No. 9 Florida State beat No. 7 Duke 88-72 on Tuesday night.

Dwayne Bacon and Terance Mann had 13 points apiece as the Seminoles (16-1, 4-0) set a school record with their 12th straight win, breaking a mark that had stood since 1970. It is also the first time they have started 4-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Blue Devils took a 50-48 lead on a Luke Kennard jumper before the Seminoles, who were playing their first regular-season game as a top-10 team since 1993, grabbed control with a 16-4 run over a five-minute span.

Kennard led Duke (14-3, 2-2) with 23 points. Jayson Tatum had 21.


  • As a Team
    • The Blue Devils moved to 14-3 overall, 2-2 against ACC opponents and 2-2 against nationally ranked opponents with Tuesday’s result.
    • Duke’s record against Florida State now sits at 35-10 following Tuesday’s contest, including 15-7 when competing in Tallahassee.
    • The Blue Devils scored at least 70 points for the 16th game this season, marking the second straight year Duke posted at least 70 points in 16 of its first 17 games.
    • Duke used the starting lineup of Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Matt Jones for the first time this season and owns a 0-1 record with those five players on the floor to start the game.
    • The Blue Devils moved to 82-25 all-time when competing as the seventh-ranked team in the nation and 14-15 when facing the No. 9 ranked team in the country.
  • Duke’s Offensive Output
    • Sophomore Luke Kennard connected on 2-of-6 (.333) attempts from beyond the arc, his 20th consecutive game with at least one three-pointer (dating back to last season). Kennard’s active streak of 20 games leads the ACC. Kennard is shooting 26-of-49 (.531) from three-point range over the team’s last nine games.
    • Kennard is shooting 34-of-52 (.654) from the field and 13-of-22 (.591) against nationally ranked opponents this season. He is also a near-perfect 17-of-18 (.944) from the free-throw line against top-25 teams this year.
    • Kennard has scored 20+ points in all four of Duke’s games against ranked opponents this season, averaging 24.5 PPG. this year.
    • Kennard led the Blue Devils in scoring for the eighth time this season, with Duke owning a 5-3 record in such contests.
    • Junior Grayson Allen scored nine points, bringing his career total to 1,160. Allen’s 1,160 points rank 48th on Duke’s all-time scorers list.
    • Allen also dished five assists, his third straight game with five-or-more assists. Allen had three-straight games with 5+ assists for the second time in his career. Allen’s five-assist effort led the Blue Devils, with Duke moving to 23-7 when Allen leads the team in assists.
    • The Blue Devils scored 28 points in the paint against Florida State, bringing their season total to 584 points scored in the lane. Forty-one percent of Duke’s points have come in the paint this season.
  • Duke on the Defensive End
    • Senior Matt Jones posted two steals for the 10th time this season and the sixth time in seven games.
    • Duke’s defense forced the Seminoles into committing 14 turnovers, the team’s 14th game causing an opponent into at least 10 miscues.
  • Freshmen
    • Jayson Tatum recorded his ninth straight double-digit scoring game, netting 21 points. Tatum surpassed Frank Jackson for the longest double-digit scoring streak by Duke a freshman this season. Tatum also scored over 20 points for the third time this season.
    • Tatum shot 3-of-6 (.500) from beyond the arc, surpassing his previous career high of two made three-pointers in a game.
    • Frank Jackson hauled in six rebounds, including three on the offensive end, a career high.

University of Louisville

Quentin Snider scored 22 points, including two free throws with 25.3 seconds remaining, and Deng Adel added a free throw 8 seconds later as No. 14 Louisville survived Jamel Artis’ career-high 43 points to outlast Pittsburgh 85-80 on Wednesday night.

The Cardinals appeared in good shape with a 59-35 lead midway through the second half before Artis’ 32-point second half rallied the Panthers within 81-76 with 45 seconds remaining. Donovan Mitchell made one of two from the line before Snider and Adel added critical free throws to provide a cushion as Louisville (14-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its second straight.

Snider also had a couple of key baskets down the stretch to finish 7 of 11 from the field including 3 of 4 from long range. Mitchell and Adel each finished with 15 points and Ray Spalding had 11 for the Cardinals.

Artis was 15 of 22 from the field with seven 3s while Michael Young added 17 for Pittsburgh (12-5, 1-3).


  • Team
    • Louisville moved to 9-1 at home this season and improved to 108-15 all-time at the KFC Yum! Center, now in its seventh season as the home of the Cardinals.
    • The Cardinals were 16-of-32 from the field in the first half on Wednesday marking the third time this season they have finished at 50 percent or better from the field in the opening half of a game.
    • UoL produced one run of 8-0 or better on Wednesday and the Cardinals have a total of 31 runs of 8-0 or better this season.
    • The 23 made free throws by Louisville equaled a season-high matching the total against Texas Southern on Dec. 10.
    • The 34 free throw attempts for the Cardinals on Wednesday ranked as the second highest single game total of the season behind only the 35 free throws against Old Dominion in the overtime win on Nov. 23.
    • The 32 three-point attempts by Pittsburgh were the most by a Louisville opponent since Notre Dame’s 34 three-point attempts on Feb. 4, 2006 at Freedom Hall.
    • The 12 made three-pointers by the Panthers were the most for a Louisville opponent since Hofstra connected on 14 three-pointers on Nov. 12, 2013 at the KFC Yum! Center.
    • The Cardinals had a 45-30 advantage on the glass and moved to 12-1 this season when outrebounding their opponent.
    • The +15 margin on the glass for Louisville was the third highest of the season behind only the +23 margin (52-29) against Evansville on Nov. 11, 2016 and the +16 margin (47-31) against Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 17, 2016.
    • Wednesday’s game marked the eighth time in 17 games this season the Cardinals have finished with 45 rebounds or more.
  • Players
    • Pittsburgh’s Jamel Artis set a KFC Yum! Center scoring record with a career-high 43 points on Wednesday night, the second highest scoring performance in school history.
    • The 43 points for Artis were the most in the ACC since Boston College’s Tyrese Rice had 46 points against North Carolina on March 1, 2008.
    • The 43 points for Artis were the most against the Cardinals since Joel Curbelo of American University (Puerto Rico) had 47 points on Nov. 24, 1995.
    • Louisville junior Quentin Snider equaled a career-high with 22 points – his 30th career double-figure scoring performance and the 10th this season.
    • Snider had five assists on Wednesday marking the fifth time this season he has finished with five or more assists in a game.
    • Louisville sophomore Deng Adel came off the bench for the first time this season and scored 15 points, his 10th double-figure scoring performance of the season and the 14th of his career.
    • Adel equaled a season-high with seven free throw attempts.
    • Louisville sophomore Ray Spalding reached double figures in scoring for the fifth time this season and the ninth time in his career with Wednesday’s 11-point performance.
    • Louisville sophomore Donovan Mitchell finished with 15 points for his fourth straight double-figure scoring performance, his seventh in the last eight games, the 11th this season and the 24th of his career.
    • In his last eight games, Mitchell is averaging 15.8 points.


Duke has a 7-5 series edge over Louisville and the teams split last year’s two meetings: Duke won 72-65 in Durham when Donovan Mitchell led UoL with 17 points off the bench (2-8-16); and the Cardinals prevailed 71-64 in Louisville (2-20-16) as Damion Lee scored 24 points and Chinanu Onuaku added 10 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Cardinals.


[National ranking in parentheses.]

When looking at the key stats, there are some key differences upon comparison. As noted below, Duke shoots the ball with a much better efficiency and overall FG%. However, Louisville holds its opponents to a low 37.5 % shooting. They also protect the rim better when looking at both offensive and defensive rebounds (8th in the country). Finally, the Cardinals are ranked 2nd in the country in BPG.

Duke2016-17 Regular Season Key Stats ComparisonUniversity of Louisville
18.6 (6)PPG (Scoring Margin)13.7 (27)
65.9 (47)Opponents PPG61.9 (15)
55.1 (30)Effective FG%48.9 (285)
48.5 (25)FG%43.6 (183)
41.7 (86)Opponent FG%37.5 (6)
36.4 (112)3PT FG%34.0 (206)
21.9 (9)Opponent 3PT FG%28.5 (6)
6.1 (37)RPG (Rebound Margin)8.2 (15)
39.1 (41)Opponent RPG41.8 (8)
73.7 (66)FT%68.4 (208)
14.1 (126)APG13.8 (142)
6.2 (11)SPG (%)7.5 (52)
3.1 (40)Turnovers Per Game (Margin)3.4 (34)
14.6 (76)Opponent TOPG15.3 (46)
4.5 (69)BPG6.9 (2)
17.2 (60)Fouls Per Game19.9 (199)

Four Factors to Winning

[If you wish to learn more about how the four factors are calculated and implemented, a description can always be found here,] [Note: Numbers in parentheses are D-1 Average]


55.1 (30)15.1 (26)33.8 (59)40.4 (52)

University of Louisville

48.9 (226)16.9 (55)38.0 (13)36.6 (131)

Duke is by far the most efficient team in shooting the ball. The Devils also protect the ball better. UoL has a significant advantage on the offensive glass, particularly if Amile does not play. Finally, Duke gets to the FT line at a much higher rate than the Cardinals do.


Duke and Louisville are both just 2-2 in the ACC conference, and head into their showdown looking to avoid a further setback.

The Duke Blue Devils have lost two of their last four games heading into a road date with the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday afternoon. Duke started the season 12-1 but has suffered recent setbacks at the hands of Virginia Tech and Florida State. The Cardinals have won two in a row at the expense Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.

The Blue Devils failed their first big test without head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is likely out for the rest of January because of back surgery. They fell 88-72 to Florida State on Tuesday after shooting 41.1 percent from the floor, including a mere 7-for-24 (29.2 percent) from three-point range.

“They definitely got frustrated in the second half, because they don’t have as many guys they can sub as we do,” FSU guard Dwayne Bacon said of the Blue Devils.

Forward Amile Jefferson missed the game with a bone bruise in his foot, so Duke was thinner than normal. It went only seven deep, with Chase Jeter and Frank Jackson coming off the bench. Eighth man Marques Bolden logged only four minutes. Sophomore Luke Kennard and freshman Jayson Tatum led the way with 23 and 21 points, respectively, but the Devils needed additional contributions to make up for Jefferson’s absence. They did not get enough. Grayson Allen finished with just nine points, while highly touted freshman Harry Giles scored only five points to go along with two rebounds in 10 minutes. Allen is averaging a mediocre 12 points and 7.7 assists in three games since his return from a one-game suspension.

After losing their first two ACC games to Virginia and Notre Dame, Louisville has reeled off back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. That said, the latter two teams are not top tier ACC teams The Cardinals, though, gave up 80 points in the recent defeat of the Panthers. That appears to be an aberration to the rule, because they feature the nation’s No. 1 defensive in terms of efficiency (per Pitt’s 80 points marked a season-high against Louisville. Still, the Cards one of the country’s leaders in terms of forcing opponents to turn the ball over (21.4 percent of defensive possessions result in TOs).

On the other end of the court, Louisville relies on guards Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell to carry an offense that is averaging only 68.3 points per game (13th in the ACC). Snider tied a season-high with 22 points to lead the Cardinals past Pittsburgh, while Mitchell chipped in 15 points and eight rebounds. Mitchell is averaging 20 PPG in the last four games, including a season-high 25 during a 77-62 win over Indiana.

Keys to the Game:

  • Duke
    • Find a way past the press. Allen and Tatum will be tasked with breaking that Louisville press, and will be crucial in getting the Duke offense going.
    • Get something from Harry Giles. The freshman Blue Devils big man was a flop against Florida State and has yet to truly convince this season. They will need him to step up and provide some meaningful minutes, especially if Jefferson still is still out.
  • Louisville Cardinals
    • Start strong. The Blue Devils are low on confidence as it is, and might not have much fight left in them if they get down early. The Cards need to capitalize and hit them hard right from the tip.
    • Outwork Duke inside. There are some question marks regarding the Duke big men at the moment, and the Cards must make that potential advantage count.


As noted above, it appears that Jefferson will not be ready for this game, however there has been no official release from Duke at the time of this writing. Even if he does make it into the game, he will be far from 100 percent so soon after sustaining a bone bruise. If Jefferson were to return against Louisville, even for limited minutes, it would be a big boost to a Duke defense that allowed Florida State to shoot 53 percent from the field. Duke’s only wins in its last four outings have come against lowly Georgia Tech and Boston College. Stiffer competition has been able to get the best of the Devils of late.

Despite its recent isolation tendencies, Duke’s offense has not been a major issue. However, its defense is so-so. Quentin Snider always tends to have his best performances in pressure-packed Louisville home games – look no further than his 22-point outing against Kentucky this season for evidence. A good Snider or Donovan Mitchell game along with a typical Louisville defensive performance could be enough to win it for the Cards.

This said, I am going to take an optimistic approach and look for the Devils to bounce back on the road with a 79-77 win.

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