Fresh off a long break for their exam period, the Blue Devils return to the court to face back-to-back games against Cornell and Elon. Duke will face these next two opponents as the newly ranked top team in the nation. First up will be the Big Red of Cornell.
Following a gauntlet of early season match ups against top flight competition, the Blue Devils will end the year with several contests in which the goal will be to improve and refine the system and rotation. Duke ail start that process against a Cornell team that isn't expected to put up much of a fight.
Redshirt freshman Marshall Plumlee is expected to make his season debut against the Big Red after battling a foot injury since early October. Additionally, it's likely that Duke will be resting Seth Curry's injured leg over the next two games, which opens minutes on the wing for players such as Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy.
Much like the Blue Devils, the Big Red have had an extended break while the exam period has occurred. Cornell played on December 1st, and then not again until December 17th against Vanderbilt on Monday.
"Obviously, when you have such a long time off, if you sit with a loss it really burns you up." — Cornell coach Bill Courtney.
"I don’t think you’ll know until you actually see him. I know it’s harder for Mason to score because he did practice the last couple of days partially." - Mike Krzyzewski on Marshall Plumlee practicing before the Temple game
Series Notes: This will be the fifth time the Blue Devils and Big Red have met. Duke has a perfect 4-0 record in the series with an average margin of victory of 28.3 points per contest.
The most recent game in the series, which occurred on January 6, 2008, was the closest of the four contests. In that game Duke was unable to pull away for much of the contest, with the Big Red actually leading late in the first half before the Blue Devils were able to build a nine point half time advantage, eventually winning by 14. DeMarcus Nelson scored a game high 23 points, and grabbed eight rebounds, while Kyle Singler added 14 points and eight boards.
The Big Red is 1-24 against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including 0-4 against Duke. The Big Red has faced Boston College (0-3), Clemson (0-2), Georgia Tech (0-3), Maryland (0-2), Miami (FL) (0-1), North Carolina (0-3), North Carolina State (0-5) and Wake Forest (1-1).
Waves of Red: With nine players averaging at least 14.2 minutes per game, it's little wonder that the Big Red's bench has out-scored the opposing reserves in each of the team's 10 games. During that span, eight different players have scored in double-figures. The team's high-scorer is also the squad's iron man. 6-foot-7 sophomore Shonn Miller is averaging just short of 30 minutes per game, but leads the team in points (10.0), rebounds (7.4), steals (2.1), and blocks (1.9) per game. Outside of Miller, Cornell has five additional players averaging between 7.3 and 9.0 points per contest.
Vet battling freshman for time: While Miller may be the team's most productive player, in the preseason it was senior small forward Errick Peck who was considered as the top overall talent. Peck was a double-figure scorer two seasons ago, but a knee injury robbed him of the 2011-2012 season. Peck (the only player on the roster to average double figures at any point during his career) was expected to take over and lock down the starting small forward role, but has been losing minutes on a regular basis to freshman Nolan Cressler - a 6'4 scoring guard who became Pittsburgh (Pa.) Plum High School's all-time leaden scorer with 1,565 points en route to being named Player of the Year.
Cressler has appeared to win the starting job over the last four games, as the Big Red have gone 3-1 in that span. Despite that, there may be no better barometer for Cornell than Peck who is averaging 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the floor. In the five losses, Peck is averaging 5.0 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 33 percent from the field.
Not afraid to fire: The Big Red know that in order to spring an upset against any high major opponent, they'll need to shoot lights out from the perimeter. So far this season the team hasn't shown that ability (shooting just 33 percent from long range), but the trigger is being pulled to the tune of just over 20 three point attempts per game. The volume of threes isn't surprising if the last five years are any indication. Cornell's 3-point season totals in the last five years represent the top five single-season marks in school history. The Big Red's 217 3-pointers a year ago ranks fifth on the chart. Prior to 2007-08, when the run began, Cornell had made more than 200 treys in a season just once.
Not only does Cornell shoot the ball from the perimeter, they also defend the three-ball as well. Over the last two years, non-conference opponents have hit just 127 3-pointers in 23 games (5.5 per game) on .282 shooting (127-of-451). Only three times in 22 games has a team shot better than 33 percent from beyond the arc.
courtesy of Duke Sports Information
- Duke is 9-0 on the year and looking to open the season with 10 straight wins for the 14th time under Mike Krzyzewski.
- The Blue Devils are ranked No. 1 in both the AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke has been ranked No. 1 in 11 of the past 16 seasons. Duke has been ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll 123 weeks overall, including 105 weeks under Coach K. Duke is 207-31 all-time when ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll. Krzyzewski is second in NCAA history with with 183 wins and 209 games at the helm of the top-ranked team in the AP Poll.
- Under Coach K, Duke has played more games as a No. 1 team (209 entering Wednesday’s contest) than it has as an unranked team (141).
- Duke has won an NCAA-best 98 straight non-conference home games. The last home loss against a non-conference opponent for the Blue Devils was Feb. 26, 2000 against St. John’s, 83-82. The Blue Devils have won 45 of their last 50 non-conference contests. Duke is 77-9 in non-league games since the start of the 2008-09 season.
- Quinn Cook is averaging 11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game since joining the starting lineup seven games ago. He has four double-figure scoring games and five games with five or more assists in that span.
- Mason Plumlee has scored 16 or more points in all nine games this season and ranks second in the ACC in scoring (19.1 ppg.). He also leads the league in rebounding (11.3 rpg.). Plumlee is attempting to become just the third player in ACC history (joining Ralph Sampson and Tim Duncan) to average 19.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.
- Duke is averaging 89.0 points per game, while shooting 50.0 percent from the field in the month of December. The Blue Devils have assisted on 42 of their 63 field goals this month.
01 Miles Asafo-Adjei (6-2, 175, So.) - 2.7 ppg, 2.9 apg
03 Nolan Cressler (6-4, 198, Fr.) - 9.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
34 Josh Figini (6-9, 210, Sr.) - 4.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg
23 Jonathan Gray (6-3, 185, Sr.) - 7.3 ppg, 2.7 apg
32 Shon Miller (6-7, 210, So.) - 10.0 ppg, 7.4 apg
24 Devin Cherry (6-3, 185, So.) - 8.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
55 Eitan Chemerinski (6-8, 225, Sr.) - 7.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg
13 Errick Peck (6-6, 223, Sr.) - 7.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg