Game Preview by @RandyDunson: Duke vs. Georgetown (Championship Game – 2K Classic Benefiting Wounded Warrior Project)

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Game Preview

Duke Blue Devils (3-1, 0-0] vs. Georgetown Hoyas (1-2, 0-0]

Sunday, November 22, 2015 • 1:00 PM • ESPN • New York, NY • Madison Square Garden (MSG)

By Randy Dunson

  1. Team Overviews


DUKEComing off a hard-fought win over VCU on Friday, No. 5/4 Duke will look to claim its second 2K Classic title when it squares off with Georgetown in a Sunday matinee. Duke won the 2008 2K Classic with a 71-56 win over Michigan in the championship game. Kyle Singler was named tournament MVP.

Duke has the second-best winning percentage (.836) and second-most wins (188) in the NCAA since the start of the 2009-10 season. Ranked fifth by the Associated Press, the Blue Devils have been ranked in the AP poll an NCAA-best 157 consecutive weeks, the seventh-longest streak in NCAA history.

Matt Jones is the lone Duke player to score in double figures in all four games and leads Duke with a 134.1 offensive rating. Grayson Allen has eclipsed the 25-point mark in three of four games this season. Duke is 8-0 for his career when Allen scores in double figures (3-0 this season). Behind a combined 9.0 offensive rebounds per game from Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee, Duke is rebounding 41.1 percent of its own misses and averaging 18.3 second-chance points per game. Jefferson has three double-doubles in four games this season and ranks among the national leaders with an average of 6.3 offensive rebounds per game. Jefferson needs one offensive board to tie Carlos Boozer for 10th on Duke’s career chart (260).

 

GTOWNThe Georgetown University men’s basketball team will play in the championship game of the 2K Classic on Sunday, November 22 against No. 5/4 Duke. The game against Duke is the third of three-straight games away from home as the Hoyas at No. 3 Maryland, 75-71, on Tuesday before coming back to beat Wisconsin Friday night, 71-61, in the 2K semifinals. After Sunday’s game against Duke, Georgetown returns home for its next seven games, beginning on Saturday, November 28 against Bryant.

Georgetown enters the season with high hopes, returning two starters and nine letter winners from 2014-15 and entering the season ranked No. 18 in the country in the Sports Illustrated Top-25 poll. Georgetown was picked to finish in second place in the BIG EAST Conference preseason poll, receiving one first place vote, and is seeking its fourth regular season conference title under John Thompson III.

Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was selected to the All-BIG EAST Preseason First Team, while sophomore forward Isaac Copeland was an honorable mention selection. Through three games, Smith-Rivera leads the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game. He is one of three GU players in double figures, joined by senior center Bradley Hayes (13.0 PPG, team-best 7.3 rebounds) and Copeland, who is averaging 13.0 PPG and is second on the team with 5.7 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard L.J. Peak is fourth with 9.3 points and freshman center Jessie Govan is averaging 9.0 PPG.


2. Last Time Out

 Duke

Grayson Allen didn’t wait very long to bounce back from an off night. It took one game. Just three days after a rough performance against No. 2 Kentucky, Duke’s sophomore guard came up with a career-high 30 points as the fifth-ranked Blue Devils beat VCU 79-71 on Friday night in the opening round of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Allen, who averaged 27 points in the Blue Devils’ first two games of the season, was held to six points on 2-for-11 shooting by Kentucky on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic. Facing the Rams, he looked a lot more like the player who had an exceptional Final Four in leading Duke to its fifth national championship last season. He was 9-for-15 from the field, including matching his career high with four 3-pointers. He was the key to Duke’s 17-3 run that turned VCU’s last lead of the game, 54-53, into a comfortable 70-58 lead with 5:43 to play.

Duke turned up the defense when it needed to in the second half. From their last lead with 12:03 to play, the Rams (2-1) went 5 of 20 from the field and Duke had a lot to do with that, especially inside where easy baskets in the first half were being challenged and that led to some breakouts for the Blue Devils.

Freshman Derryck Thornton, who started in place of Allen, had a career-high 19 points for Duke, and Matt Jones added 10, including two big 3s in the second half. Jones came into the game shooting 56.3 percent (9 of 16) from 3-point range. Amile Jefferson had a string of three straight double-doubles stopped. He finished with six points and seven rebounds.

Mo Alie-Cox had 15 points for VCU. The Rams shot 58.1 percent (18 of 31) in the first half and dropped off to 34.4 percent (11 for 32) in the second half. VCU was outrebounded 39-32 despite Justin Tillman’s game-high eight boards. The Rams finished with a 46-24 advantage in points in the paint, but most of that came in the first half.

Georgetown

Georgetown hit nine three-point field goals, put four players in double figures and hit nine free throws in the final five minutes as the Hoyas beat Wisconsin, 71-61, in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on Friday evening. It was the first win of the season for the Hoyas, who improve to 1-2 overall this season, while the Badgers fall to 2-2.

Sophomore forward Isaac Copeland scored 15 points, all in the second half, and had eight rebounds, while junior forward Reggie Cameron set a career-high with 14 points, all in the first half, and had three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals and freshman center Jessie Govan had 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shots.

The Hoyas had taken a 27-22 lead at halftime and were up only 36-34 (14:28) before taking a 52-40 lead on a three from Copeland. Wisconsin trimmed the lead to 58-50 after free throws from Ethan Happ with 5:50 to play, but the Blue & Gray scored six-straight points on layups from sophomore guard L.J. Peak and Copeland and free throws from Govan to take their biggest lead, 64-50, with 4:34 to play.

And as the first half was the Reggie Cameron show, the second half became the Isaac Copeland show, as the sophomore forward scored eight-straight points, including the second of two three-pointers to give GU a 62-40 lead with 8:29 to play in the game.

Starting with Govan’s free throws, Georgetown connected on 9-of-10 free throws in the final 4:50, including six in a row from Smith-Rivera — to hold on for its first win of the season.

Georgetown hit 42.9 percent of its field goals (21-of-49), hit 50 percent of its three-point field goals (9-of-18) and 83.3 percent of its free throws (20-of-24). The Hoyas were outrebounded, 40-36, and handed out 15 assists with 15 turnovers.

3. Head-to-Head

Sunday’s game is the 15th all-time between Georgetown and Duke. It is the first meeting between the teams since an 87-84 Georgetown win on January 30, 2010 at Verizon Center. In that game, Chris Wright (21), Greg Monroe (21) and Austin Freeman (20) each had at least 20 points as the No. 8 Hoyas topped the No. 7 Blue Devils. This will be the first meeting between teams at Madison Square Garden. The game will also be only the second meeting between the teams on a neutral floor. The last time the teams played on a neutral floor was in the 1989 NCAA East Regional Final at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, an 85-77 Duke win.

  • Series Record: 7-7
  • Last Meeting: Georgetown beat Duke, 89-77, at Verizon Center during the 2009-10 season
  • At Georgetown: GU, 7-3
  • At Duke: Duke, 3-0
  • Neutral Site: Duke 1-0
  • 1-10 point games: 8 (Duke leads, 5-3)
  • Last GU Win: 89-77, 1/30/10
  • Last Duke Win: 76-67, 1/17/09
  • GU Most Points Scored: 89
  • Duke Most Points Scored: 93
  • Current Streak: GU, 1 win


4. Key Points to Consider

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

Duke

  • Very methodical on offense
  • Struggles offensively
  • Hard to score against
  • Defends layups and jumpers well

Georgetown

  • [Same profile as Duke]

Now, a few key points to consider (refer to the Endgame). These may often carry over to future games but keys specific to a current opponent will always be mentioned.

  • Backcourt
    • It now appears that Duke has found its true PG in Derryk Thornton
    • He can easily rotate at this position with Allen, Jones, & Kennard
    • Georegtown has vetran guards so it will be interesting to see how our backcourt fairs
  • Frontcourt
    • Once again, need to do a good job controlling the boards in this game; Georgetown’s frontcourt has a veteran Center but also has a Freshman at this spot who can rest him without losing much
  • Bench
    • I will, never for the life of me understand K’s rotation philosophy
      • He can easily go 8 deep, & 9, if Obi were given more minutes
    • In the last 2 games, the rotation has been held to 6 ½; why 6 ½?
      • The 6.5 man has been Kennard who has played up to 20 minutes but only managed to score 2 points against VCU
      • The logical question is what happened to Chase Jeter?
        • He saw 2 minutes against KY but never took off his warm-up shirt during the entire VCU game (there are no reports of illness or injury)
      • K has always used his bench sparingly, but this season he has shut it down much earlier
      • Practice is practice; I have always been of the mindset that in order to advance as a player, both from the athletic & mental aspects, you have to be put in actual game situations, no matter how many that might be
    • My bottom line – Jeter & Obi need more minutes in all games

5. Engame

Many college basketball fans were hoping to see a rematch of the 2015 national championship game this weekend, but Georgetown had other ideas. After knocking off Wisconsin in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic, the Hoyas will take on defending NCAA Tournament champion Duke in the title game of this event Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils disposed of VCU, 79-71, in Friday’s semifinal behind a career-high 30 points from sophomore Grayson Allen. Allen likely will be the focus of Georgetown’s defensive game plan after he showed “spectacular” improvement from the previous game, a loss to top-ranked Kentucky, according to coach Mike Krzyzewski.

In addition to Allen’s strong effort against VCU, Duke also benefited from the emergence of freshman guard Derryck Thornton, who scored 19 points – three more than his previous three games combined. Thornton is one of three freshmen in Duke’s rotation, including starting guard Brandon Ingram and reserve guard Luke Kennard. Ingram and Kennard shot a collective 2-for-11 (0-of-6 from the arc) against the Rams and are a combined 7-for-32 from 3-point land this year.

The Duke Blue Devils are averaging 86.8 points on 47.4 percent shooting and allowing 73.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting. Grayson Allen is averaging 22.5 points and three assists while Matt Jones is averaging 13.8 points and 2.3 rebounds. Amile Jefferson is grabbing 11.3 rebounds and Derryck Thornton is dishing 3.3 assists. The Duke Blue Devils are shooting 36.8 percent from downtown and are averaging just 12 turnovers per game. Duke is also averaging 41 rebounds per game and has 62 offensive boards in four games. However, Duke has allowed 70-plus points in all four games this season.

The Georgetown Hoyas would love a win over a ranked team to get back to a .500 record. The Hoyas lost their first two games, a home upset against Radford and a road heartbreaker against No. 3 Maryland, before topping Wisconsin, 71-61, behind Isaac Copeland’s 15 points, all in the second half. “It’s big for us. We’ve lost a tough one to Maryland the other day,” Copeland told reporters. “We’ve been itching to get our first win of the season. So this starts the train for a good season for us.”

The Hoyas are not the deepest team, but they received a nice lift from their bench against Wisconsin with Jessie Govan and Reggie Cameron combining for 27 points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is seeking a better performance after enduring his worst game of the young season – a 2-of-9 shooting effort for 12 points versus the Badgers. Still, the senior guard leads the team in scoring (13.7), assists (4.3), steals (1.7) and 3-pointers (7-of-19).

Georgetown is averaging 74 points on 46.5 percent shooting and allowing 72.7 points on 40.9 percent shooting. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is averaging 13.7 points and 4.3 assists while Bradley Hayes is averaging 13 points and 7.3 rebounds. Isaac Copeland is the third double-digit scorer and Marcus Derrickson is dishing 2.3 assists. The Georgetown Hoyas are shooting 40.7 percent from deep and have made 24 threes in three games. Georgetown is averaging 36 rebounds and turning the ball over 15 times per game. Georgetown is also shooting 76.5 percent from the line, eight percent better than average. Tre Campbell is questionable with an illness.

Of more importance to coach John Thompson III was the Hoyas finally getting their defense aligned against Wisconsin. They limited the Badgers to 31.7 percent shooting and five 3-pointers after allowing opponents to hit 44.6 percent and 18 shots from beyond the arc in their 0-2 start.

Both defenses will be tested in somewhat similar styles. Georgetown continues to use its Princeton-based offense of cuts and motion, while Krzyzewski opted for a four-guard lineup versus VCU and ran more of a motion-based offense to create driving lanes for his quicker lineup.

Notables

  • Georgetown is shooting 76.5 percent from the foul line, putting them in the top 40 nationally, while Duke is uncharacteristically at 66.4 percent from the stripe
  • The Blue Devils won the 2K Sports Classic in 2008
  • Duke F Amile Jefferson notched three straight double-doubles to begin the season before posting six points and seven rebounds against VCU

Georgetown’s experience could make this game very close. However, Duke has far more talent and doesn’t go on long stretches without putting the ball in the hoop. I fully expect that Duke will be more than ready this time out and will come away with a 71-60 victory.