Game Preview by @RandyDunson – Duke Blue Devils vs. Maine Black Bears

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Game Preview

#5/4 Duke Blue Devils [7-1, 0-0] vs. #UR University of Maine Black Bears [2-5, 0-0]

December 3, 2016 • 5:30 PM ET • Durham, NC • Cameron Indoor Stadium

Media: ESPN2, Local Radio

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

Team Overviews

Duke

The Blue Devils return 10 letter winners and three starters from their 2015-16 squad, which finished

the year 25-11 after falling in the Sweet 16 to Oregon. Duke, which has won 130 consecutive

non-conference games at home, enter at 7-1 overall after most recently defeating Michigan St.

78-69. Duke’s lone loss this season came on Nov. 15, a 77-75 stumble against Kansas.

Duke features five-scorers posting double-figures over its first eight games, led by sophomore

Luke Kennard who checks in at 17.5 point per game to go along with 6.6 rebounds. Grayson

Allen, a 2015 second-team All-American, is adding 17.1 points with an 86.7 percent mark

from the free throw line and a team-high 3.6 assists. Freshman Frank Jackson is adding 15.4

points per game and is Duke is leading 3-point shooter (38.9 percent). Graduate student Amile

Jefferson is nearly averaging a double-double as the big man enters action at 14.0 points per

game to go along with 9.9 rebounds. Jefferson leads the team with 16 blocks. Senior Matt Jones

rounds out the Blue Devils’ double-digit scorers at 10.4 points.

The Blue Devils feature an excellent offensive game as it ranks 29th in the country at 84.6 points

per game. The Blue Devils rank 36th in the country and lead the ACC in 3-point attempts

(189), checking in with a 34.9 percent mark from downtown. As much as it

likes to shoot from outside, Duke is also highly successful from the free throw stripe.

Duke leads the ACC in both free throw attempts (205) and free throw makes (149),

ranking 16th and 21st nationally in the stats, respectfully, and shoot 72.7 percent from

the stripe. The Blue Devils are stellar on the boards where they average 39.4 per game

and rank 25th nationally with 315 total rebounds.

 

Notables:

  • No. 5/4 Duke will wrap up its season-long four-game home stand Saturday when it meets Maine on the hardwood for the first time.
  • Duke’s .943 (115-7) home winning percentage this decade is the third-best in the NCAA in that time. Mike Krzyzewski is 494-62 (.888) at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  • Following its victory over Michigan State on Tuesday, Duke has won an NCAA-best 130 consecutive non-conference home games. The streak dates back to 2000.
  • The Blue Devils have won the third-most games (217) and have the fourth-best winning percentage (.819) in the nation this decade.

Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Grayson Allen

Guard – Junior Matt Jones

Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard

Guard – Freshman Frank Jackson

Forward – Grad Student Amile Jefferson

Maine

The Black Bears enter action at Duke coming off an 82-61 loss at home against Central Connecticut

State on Wednesday. Freshman Andrew Fleming had a career night for Maine, leading

all scorers with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with a team-high eight

boards. First-year Black Bear Ilker Er chipped in 11 points for Maine which struggled from the

field, shooting just 39.1 percent and running into a hot-hitting CCSU team (58.9%).

Transfer Wes Myers leads Maine in scoring at 12.7 points per game. Myers, who ranks 12th

among America East scoring leaders, has finished with double-figures in five of Maine’s first

seven outings. Myers ranks third on the team with 5.3 rebounds and has taken care of the ball

in the early going, ranking third in the league in assist to turnover ratio (18 AST/6 TOs,) at +3.0.

Fleming is adding 10.7 points and is Maine’s leader on the boards, averaging 5.4 per game to

sit him 12th in the league. The freshman big man has controlled the paint for Maine as he is

second in the league with six blocks and has been consistent with his finishes, ranking fourth

in the league at 59.6 percent from the floor.
Ilker Er is adding 9.9 points and is Maine’s deep threat, ranking second in the league with 23 makes from beyond the arc.

As a unit, the Black Bears are averaging 74.3 punts per game. Maine ranks second in the league

in assist/turnover ratio (1.10) and third in total assists per game (13.1). Maine has been solid

on the offensive glass, checking in 55th in the nation at 13.3 per game. The Black Bears 96th

nationally with 8.4 three-point makes per game 92nd in total 3-point makes (59).

Notables:

  • Maine will be playing its 36th game against a current member ACC school. Maine is 5-30 all-time against the ACC, with all five wins coming against Boston College. Maine last played an ACC school on December 13, 2015; a 91-60 loss at Boston College. Maine’s last win against the ACC was on Jan. 2, 2010 when it defeated Boston College, 52-51.

Probable Starters

Guard – Sophomore Ryan Bernstein

Guard – Junior Wes Myers

Forward – Freshman Andrew Fleming

Forward – Sophomore Ilija Stojiljkoic

Forward – Junior Ilker Er

Last Time Out

Duke

Grayson Allen keeps putting up huge numbers for No. 5 Duke. Imagine how much more impressive they might be if he were healthy enough to practice.

Allen scored 24 points, Luke Kennard added 20 and the Blue Devils beat Michigan State 78-69 on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Allen has been dealing with lingering foot injuries for the past two weeks, with coach Mike Krzyzewski saying he hurt his toe before the Penn State game on November 19 and limped through the Rhode Island game the next day. He checked out of the Appalachian State game early three days ago when he reinjured the toe.

“Grayson does not practice one second,” Krzyzewski said. “So when he’s out on that court, it’s a gutty performance. … That kid has played unbelievably, and he’s limping.”

Amile Jefferson had 17 points and 13 rebounds while freshman Frank Jackson finished with 11 points and keyed a timely 11-0 run for the Blue Devils (7-1), who won their fourth straight despite shooting just 27 percent from 3-point range.

Neither team led by more than four before the Blue Devils broke a 48-all tie by reeling off 11 straight points, a run that coincided with a series of Spartan slaps to the floor, one of Duke’s trademark moves.

Seconds after Bridges gave the floor a firm slap, Jackson blew past the Michigan State guards for a layup that gave Duke its largest lead to that point, 55-48, with just under 13 minutes left.

Notables:

  • BIG PICTURE
    • Allen was just 7 of 21 shooting in 37 minutes, and the Blue Devils needed major minutes from him because they went just six deep, the five starters, plus Chase Jeter. Injured freshman forwards Harry Giles, Marques Bolden and Jayson Tatum once again took part in pregame warm-ups with varying stages of intensity.
    • Krzyzewski says Tatum had “a good workout,” Giles “just needs some contact” and Bolden “is moving along”.
  • STAT LINE
    • Krzyzewski said Matt Jones “had a spectacular 2-point performance tonight.” The Duke senior was just 1 of 7 from the field and missed all six of his 3-pointers to finish with two points — but keyed the defensive effort that locked down Bridges. “When you’re all about winning, you’re really important, and Matt Jones is only about winning.”

Maine

Freshman Andrew Fleming poured in a career-high 20 points but it was not enough as the University of Maine men’s basketball team dropped an 82-61 decision to visiting Central Connecticut State University at the Cross Insurance Center on Wednesday evening.

Fleming added eight rebounds to his career night after finishing 8-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-7 from the free throw line. Junior Ilker Er tallied double-digits for the second-straight showing, finishing with 11 points and four boards.

Statistically, Maine won the battle inside, finishing with a 38-32 advantage on the boards and a 38-32 scoring mark in the paint. However, CCSU forced 16 Maine turnovers and completed action with a 19-9 edge in points off from the Black Bears’ mishaps.

For the game, the Blue Devils (playing a Blue Devils team back-to-back!) went 33-for-56 from the floor (58.9 percent), including knocking down 10-of-14 from beyond the arc. Maine finished action 25-for-64 in the field and struggled from long-range (4-for-19), including a 1-for-8 showing in the second half.

The Blue Devils took advantage of a great first half, shooting 61.5 percent from the floor to jump out to a 41-24 lead at the break.

Back and forth, action was featured over the opening seven minutes of action. Ryan Bernstein’s jumper gave Maine a short two-point edge before the Blue Devils snatched the lead on a 4-0 run. The third tie of the game came just over six minutes in when Fleming finished a layup on a fast break feed from Jaquan McKennon.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by the Blue Devils started a 15-3 run, ending with the visitors on top, 30-18 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.

Maine responded with a triple from Er before a free throw by Wes Myers brought the Black Bears within eight.

CCSU closed the half on an 11-2 run to carry a 41-24 lead into the break.

Maine chipped the deficit down to 12 with 13 minutes to play after putting together a 9-3 run, keyed by four points from Marko Pirovic before an impressive put back slam by Fleming.

However, the Black Bears failed to close the gap any further. CCSU elevated the spread to its largest advantage of the game, 78-55, with 2:30 to play before closing out an 82-61 victory.

Notables:

  • NA

Head-to-Head

This is the first time that these teams have played.

Statistics

In terms of overall statistics, Duke overwhelms MSU in most all categories. Some stats of note include scoring margin, rebound margin, FT%, & most particularly TO/GM (Margin) where Duke far excels as MSU turns the ball over at a very high rate.

Duke 2015-16 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison Maine
20.4 PPG (Scoring Margin) 3.0
64.2 Opponents PPG 78.8
54.5 Effective FG% 45.9
47.4 FG% 40.2
40.9 Opponent FG% 48.4
34.9 3PT FG% 31.9
25.9 Opponent 3PT FG% 43.1
5.9 RPG (Rebound Margin) 4.1
27.88 Opponent RPG 31.85
72.7 FT% 65.7
14.0 APG 12.3
6.4 SPG (%) 5.3
3.8 Turnovers Per Game (Margin) 1.9
15.2 Opponent TOPG 137
4.6 BPG 1.5
18.0 Fouls Per Game 18.7

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, http://www.dukeblogger.com/four-factors-winning/.]

Duke

eFG& TO% OR% FTRate
54.5 15.8 32.7 42.4

MSU

eFG& TO% OR% FTRate
45.9 17.3 32.7 25.3

When analyzing the 4-factor data, it is apparent that Duke overwhelms Maine except in offensive rebounding, where they equal. The Black Bears have a big frontcourt, starting three forwards. Duke gets to the line much more than Maine, 42.4 vs. 25.3. The Blue Devils also shoot ball much more effectively,

When it comes to effective field goal percentage (eFG%), the teams are evenly matched. However, Duke far exceeds the Spartans in all categories including a large lead in offensive rebounding.

Summary

The Duke Blue Devils are 7-1 this season despite playing without several of their best players due to injuries. Duke is averaging 84.6 points per game and they are shooting 47.7 percent from the floor including 34.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc while defensively they are allowing 64.2 points per game and their opponents are shooting 40.9 percent. Luke Kenard leads the Blue Devils averaging 17.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Grayson Allen is averaging 17.1 points and 5.3 rebounds for Duke, Frank Jackson is averaging 15.4 points, and Amile Jefferson is averaging 14 points and 9.9 rebounds. Duke appears t be poised for another NCAA Tournament run.

The Maine Black Bears are 2-5 this season and they have lost 4 of their last 5 games. Maine is averaging 70.7 points per game and they ae shooting 40.2 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 31.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc while defensively they are allowing 78.8 points per game and their opponents are shooting 48.4 percent. Wesley Myers leads the Black Bears averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Andrew Fleming is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Black bears, Ilker Er is averaging 9.9 points, and Marko Pirovic is averaging 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds. Maine hasn’t held up well against soft competition and likely they are in deep trouble here.

Junior guard Wesley Myers is the leading candidate to test Duke’s man-to-man defense Saturday. The Niagara transfer averages 12.7 points per contest and shoots 40.0 percent from 3-point range. Freshman forward Anthony Fleming is the team’s main threat down low with 10.7 points per contest and a 59.6-percent shooting clip, but the rookie could struggle against the savvy veteran Jefferson at just 6-foot-7 and 222 pounds.

One advantage Maine could have is its depth. Twelve Black Bears average at least 10 minutes per game, but Maine will have to find consistency to stay in Saturday’s contest.

Of note is as Marist did in Duke’s regular-season opener, Maine is expected to protest North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2. USA Today reported Thursday that the Black Bears will wear black and rainbow-themed warm-up shirts to protest that the law that limits protections for LGBTQ people and requires transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.

Notables:

  • INJURY REPORT
    • There are a few notes on status in the Duke Last Time section.
    • At the time of writing this preview, status has remained unchanged.

Endgame

The good news for Duke is that they are putting it together as a team. After a very flat first half against Michigan State, the Blue Devils made adjustments and took the game over.

This game will be a test of continuity – can the adjustments made in the Michigan State game carry over? If Duke can find consistently then the rest of the non-conference opponents should be fearful.

When Duke has had issues, they have been their own worst enemies. If Duke defends, stays engaged and takes care of the basketball then they should cruise.

Even though Maine goes deep and has a productive frontcourt, but even with Duke pulling their starters early this should be a mismatch from start to finish. Look for Duke to run away and hide, 91-65.