Game Preview by @RandyDunson – Duke Blue Devils vs. Rhode Island Rams

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#1/1 Duke Blue Devils [2-1, 0-0] vs. #21/22 University of Rhode Island (URI) Rams [4-0, 0-0]

November 20, 2016 • 1:00 PM ET • Uncasville, CT • Mohegan Sun Arena

Media: ESPN, Watch ESPN App, Local Radio

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

 

About The Hall Of Fame Tip-Off Tournament

The Basketball Hall of Fame hosts the annual Tip-Off Tournament each November. The Tip-Off Tournament is an NCAA exempt men’s basketball tournament sponsored by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Each year, top teams and conferences will compete in the Basketball Hall of Fame’s event showcasing its talents in New England’s only exempt Division I college basketball tournament. The original Tip-Off was held in Springfield for more than 25 years. The format has changed, but the name has remained the same.

Team Overviews

Duke

Top-ranked Duke will look to claim the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off title on Sunday when it squares off with No. 21/22 Rhode Island.

The Blue Devils are 248-74 (.770) in neutral settings under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has led Duke to an 89-16 (.848) record and 18 titles in in-season tournaments.

The Blue Devils have won the third-most games (213) and have the fourth-best winning percentage (.816) in the nation this decade.

Duke’s perimeter defense has held opponents to just a .187 mark from three-point range this season. Opponents are making only 3.5 three pointers per game on the year. Duke has forced at least 14 turnovers in each of its first four games, turning them into an average of 16.8 points per game.

Offensively, the Blue Devils lead the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency with a mark of 121.4 points per 100 possessions. Duke’s attacking style has led to an average possession /length of 14.8 seconds.

Notables:

  • NA

Probable Starters

  • Guard – Sophomore Grayson Allen
  • Guard – Junior Matt Jones
  • Guard –Sophomore Luke Kennard
  • Guard – Freshman Frank Jackson
  • Forward – Grad Student Amile Jefferson

 

University of Rhode Island

After a disappointing 2015-16 season, No. 21 Rhode Island appears to be back on track with its tremendous guards leading the way. The Rams’ hit a bit of bad luck last season when star player E.C. Matthews ended his season early with an ACL tear. Matthews has started strong coming off the injury, posting 20 points per game on 71.9% shooting. Matthews is extremely hard to defend at the point guard position because of his size, as he stands at 6’5” and weighs in at 205 pounds. Across from him will be fellow junior guard Jared Terrell, who is averaging 14.7 points per game. Both backcourt contributors will present a lot of problems for the Bearcats on defense and it will be interesting to see who Cronin chooses to guard these talented shooters, you can bet that Kevin Johnson will see a lot of minutes with that task.

This is supposed to be Danny Hurley’s year. The fifth-year coach has slowly brought the Rams back in the Atlantic-10, but injuries derailed what was expected to be their breakout season last year. E.C. Matthews was lost to an ACL tear in the very first game, while Hassan Martin missed half the year with a stress fracture in his foot.

Both of those guys are all-Atlantic 10 players who were high major recruits coming out of high school. So was forward Kuran Iverson, who transferred from Memphis, and point guard Jared Terrell. Hurley’s team is deep, experienced, and talented and they were picked second in the Atlantic-10 behind Dayton. They are currently ranked No. 21 in the AP poll.

Probable Starters

  • Guard – Junior Jarred Terrell
  • Guard – Junior Stanford Robinson
  • Forward – Senior Koran Iverson
  • Forward – Senior Hassan Martin
  • Guard – Junior E.C. Matthews

 

Last Time Out

Duke

Freshman Frank Jackson led five players in double figures with 17 points and top-ranked Duke defeated Penn State 78-68 Saturday in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament.

Amile Jefferson added 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils (3-1), who lost forward Chase Jeter to injury early in the game. The 6-foot-10 sophomore rolled his left ankle in the first half and did not return. Tony Carr had 20 points and Shep Garner added 15 to lead Penn State (2-2). Jeter went down under the Penn State basket while going for a rebound and was on the floor for several minutes before being helped off the court. His injury came minutes after Grayson Allen left the game, favoring the right foot he hurt in the recent loss to Kansas. Allen went back to the locker room, but returned to the floor a few minutes later. He finished with 12 points and needs just three more to become the 65th Duke player with 1,000 points for his career. Matt Jones and Luke Kennard added 15 points each for Duke.

Despite the injuries, the Blue Devils were able to go on an early 13-2 run that turned a tie game into a 21-10 lead. They led 36-24 at the half, despite some poor shooting from Allen and Kennard, who were a combined 4-15 from the floor. However, Jackson picked up the slack, scoring 11 of his points before intermission.

A 3-point play by Allen stretched the lead to 64-51 midway through the second half and Duke held off Penn State the rest of the way. Jeter’s injury further depletes a Blue Devils’ team that is still without three highly touted freshmen, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden, as well as junior Sean Obi. They may have just seven players available for Sunday’s championship game.

Notables:

  • As a Team
    • The Blue Devils moved to 3-1 on the season with Saturday’s result, marking the 33rd time under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and the 80th time in program history the Blue Devils began a season with three-or-more wins through the first four games
    • Duke has also won three of its first four games for the 17th straight season
    • Duke used the starting lineup of Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Chase Jeter, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard for the fourth time this season and owns a 3-1 record with those five players on the floor to start the game
    • The Blue Devils moved to 9-1 when facing Penn State
  • Blue Devils on the Glass
    • After collecting just six offensive rebounds against Kansas, Duke hauled in 10 offensive boards against Penn State, including five in the first half
    • Duke has recorded double-digit offensive rebounds in three of the team’s four games this season.
    • Graduate student Amile Jefferson tied a career-high with 15 boards in the contest, his first double-digit rebounding game of the year and the 23rd of his career
    • Jefferson is the first Blue Devil to register 15-or-more rebounds in a game since Marshall Plumlee posted a 17-rebound game against Wake Forest March 1, 2016
  • Duke’s Offensive Output
    • Junior Grayson Allen netted 12 points, moving him within three of becoming the 65th Blue Devil in program history to reach 1,000 points for his career
    • Matt Jones recorded his 21st career game with at least three made three-pointers in a contest
    • The Blue Devils moved to 18-3 in such games
    • Jones posted back-to-back games with three-or-more made threes for the first time since Duke faced Long Beach State (December 30, 2015) and Boston College (January 2, 2016).
    • Amile Jefferson ended the game with 16 points to go along with his 15 rebounds to register his first double-double of the season and the ninth of his career
    • Duke is 7-2 when Jefferson posts a double-double
    • Allen posted his fourth double-digit scoring game of the season and his 29th straight such game, including contests from last year
    • Allen’s double-digit scoring streak began December 28, 2015, when Duke faced Elon.
    • Duke’s record is now 33-10 when Allen scores double-digit points
    • The Blue Devils scored 36 points in the paint against Penn State, bringing their season total to 144 points scored in the lane
    • Forty-two percent of Duke’s points have come in the paint this season
  • Duke on the Defensive End
    • Duke forced Penn State into committing 14 turnovers, the fourth consecutive game a Blue Devil opponent recorded at least 10 miscues
    • The Blue Devil defense held Penn State to just 27.3 percent (6-of-22) shooting from beyond the arc
    • Duke opponents are connecting on just 14-of-75 (.187) this season from three-point range
    • Jefferson registered four blocks, his seventh career game with three-or-more blocks
    • Jefferson has at least one block in four straight games, matching his career-long streak
    • Sophomore Antonio Vrankovic took the first charge of his career.
  • Fresh Faces
    • Freshman Frank Jackson led all Duke scorers for the first time this season with 17 points, marking the first time a freshman led Duke in scoring this season
    • Last year, a Duke freshman led the Blue Devil scoring efforts in 13 games
    • Jackson shot 2-of-6 (.333) from beyond the arc and has connected on at least one three-pointer in all four games this year

 

University of Rhode Island

#21/22 Rhode Island erased a 12-point deficit with a heroic effort to best #24/25 Cincinnati, 76-71, in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Rams (4-0) fell behind by 10 less than five minutes into the game, trailing 14-4 at the 15:21 mark. The Bearcats (3-1) extended the lead to 12 after knocking down a 3-pointer with 9:42 left in the half, making it 24-12. Rhode Island would miss its first nine attempts from beyond the arc.

Cincy converted a traditional three-point play to make it 29-17, before Jared Terrell connected on the first 3-pointer of the afternoon for the Rams, which kickstarted an 8-0 Rhody run. A Kuran Iverson jumper made it 31-27 with 2:12 remaining. After some back-and-forth to close the half, Cincinnati drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer, making it 39-31 at the break.

In the second half, trailing by 11 points – 46-35 – with 17:37 to play, an inspired Rams squad reversed course on their first half shooting woes. A 12-0 run – paced by back-to-back 3-balls from Terrell – and capped by a lay-up by Cyril Langevine gave URI its first lead of the ballgame (47-46) with 14:40 to go.

There were four lead changes and four ties over the final 14:40 of the game. The Bearcats took a five point lead with 11:56 to play, but it was quickly erased by a 9-1 run capped by two Kuran Iverson free throws, giving URI a 58-56 lead with 8:24 left. Rhody would not trail the rest of the way.

Cincinnati would get as close as one – 66-65 – but a quick response trifecta from E.C. Matthews made it a two-possession ballgame on the next possession. Matthews dropped another 3-ball in the deep corner with 20 seconds left that sealed the victory for the Rams.

Notables:

  • With close to 1:30 left in the first half, point guard Jarvis Garrett fell on the baseline under the Rams’ basket. He was taken off the court on a stretcher and transported to Backus Hospital for further evaluation
  • Four Rams finished in double figures, led by 18 points from E.C. Matthews. The Detroit guard scored 15 of his 18 in the second half, knocking down 4-of-5 from the perimeter over the final 20 minutes of play.
  • Kuran Iverson tallied his first double-double of the season and the fifth for his career, with 15 points and 10 boards. He also added five assists in 33 minutes of play.
  • Hassan Martin and Jared Terrell each scored 14 points. Martin added three boards and two blocks in 18 foul-plagued minutes.
  • Terrell connected on 4-of-7 from the perimeter, while adding four boards and three assists in 33 minutes.
  • The Rhody bench played an inspired second half. Freshman Cyril Langevine scored seven points and registered four offensive boards and a blocked shot in 17 minutes.
  • Stanford Robinson played 26 minutes total – 16 in the second half. The junior transfer chipped in with two assists and a steal while running the point. Christian Thompson (four points) and Nicola Akele (two assists) each made their impact during Rhody’s second half runs.
  • URI connected on 51.9% (14-27) from the floor, including 6-of-8 from outside, in the second half. The Rams outscored the Bearcats, 45-32, over the final 20 minutes of action.
  • Rhody tallied 15 assists on 26 field goals and committed 10 turnovers.
  • It marks the first 4-0 for the Rams since the 2009-10 season and the 15th all-time victory over a nationally ranked opponent.
  • Stat of the Game, Part I – 80 – Rhode Island knocked down 16-of-20 from the free throw line – good for 80.0%
  • Stat of the Game, Part II – +11 – The Rams bench outscored Cincinnati’s reserves, 15-4

 

Head-to-Head

This is the first meeting between these teams.

[NB: Full statistical parameters will not be displayed until after the fifth game is played. Some statistics will be noted in other sections though.]

 

Duke 2015-16 Regular Season Key Stats Comparison University of Rhode Island
PPG (Scoring Margin)
Opponents PPG
Effective FG%
FG%
Opponent FG%
3PT FG%
Opponent 3PT FG%
RPG (Rebound Margin)
Opponent RPG
FT%
APG
SPG (%)
Turnovers Per Game (Margin)
Opponent TOPG
BPG
Fouls Per Game

 

Four Factors to Winning

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics] [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/.]

 

Key Points to Consider

[NB: Same applies here as for statistics]

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

 

Duke

University of Rhode Island

 

Summary

The hits just keep coming for No. 1 Duke, which watched yet another player go down to injury in its semifinal win at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament in Uncasville, Conn. With perhaps only seven healthy players available to them, the Blue Devils will attempt to claim their 19th in-season tournament title under coach Mike Krzyzewski on Sunday when they meet 22nd-ranked Rhode Island in the championship game.

Starting forward Chase Jeter rolled his ankle in the first half and did not return during Saturday’s 78-68 victory over Penn State, and the sophomore forward is expected to sit Sunday, along with highly touted freshmen Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden, as well as junior Sean Obi. “It was a heckuva win for us, I mean, a huge character win. We’re banged up more than any team I’ve ever coached, before the game and during,” Krzyzewski told reporters. The Rams matched their best start since 2009-10 after erasing an early 11-point second-half deficit in Saturday’s 76-71 victory against No. 25 Cincinnati, getting a critical 3-pointer from E.C. Matthews with 21 seconds left and some solid defense after that to hold off the Bearcats. “I was coaching high school seven years ago, driving vans and mini-cheese buses around; now we’re nationally ranked and playing Duke for a championship. The premier program in the country that embodies everything you’d want in a college program. It kind of means a lot,” Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley told reporters.

Rhode Island’s win came at a price for the Rams, however, as guard Jarvis Garrett was put in a neck brace before getting onto a stretcher under his own power and leaving for a local hospital for precautionary reasons after hitting his head on a cameraman’s knee in the first half. [Late reports indicate that he is fine, although he will not play today.] Senior forward Kuran Iverson did a bit of everything en route to his first double-double of the season, finishing with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes – all season highs. Matthews and fellow junior guard Jared Terrell each drained four 3-pointers to account for all eight of the Rams’ long-range buckets; the duo is responsible for 17 of the team’s 31 3-pointers.

As for Duke, another freshman, 6-3 guard Frank Jackson, carried the day in Jeter’s absence, coming off the bench to lead five Blue Devils in double figures with 17 points, while also helping his team overcome an uncharacteristic poor effort from sharpshooter Luke Kennard (5-for-16 from the field). Senior forward Amile Jefferson (12 points, 8.8 rebounds) played through a minor injury of his own and tallied 16 points to go along with a career-high tying 15 boards and four blocks. Grayson Allen also left for the locker room in order to get his ailing right foot checked out, but he was able to return; the 6-5 junior has struggled to find his range thus far, opening the season 8-for-30 beyond the arc.

Notables:

  • Allen needs three more points to become the 65th player in school history with 1,000 for his career
  • Rhode Island improved to 15-96 all-time against top-25 foes with Saturday’s victory, while Duke is 208-*139 versus ranked opponents under Krzyzewski
  • The Blue Devils’ first four opponents have combined to go 14-for-75 beyond the arc

 

Endgame

Judging by how Duke played vs Penn State and the quick turnaround and the short bench this game may go down to the wire. Duke will need to improve on nearly ever facet of the game and so so with tired legs. With Chase Jeter probably  no-go Duke will need to go to its bench and depend on contributions from Antonio Vrankovic, Javin DeLaurier and possibly Jack White. Vrankovic is the only of the 3 who got significant minutes against Penn State. If Duke can put together longer stretches of the crisp ball movement we saw in spots yesterday then Duke has a chance to win this game. Also defensively Duke needs to shore up it’s perimeter defense. There is no proven shot blocker so guards must stat in front, something they did not do well against Penn State.

This will be a very close game and may come down to the last possession, with Duke eking by Rhode Island 79- 77.