New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - On the verge of yet another milestone, Mike Krzyzewski will lead the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils onto the court at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon for a non-conference clash with the St. John's Red Storm.
Coach K currently sits at 999 career wins and will become the first coach in Division I history to reach the 1,000-win mark with his next victory. The Blue Devils helped Krzyzewski move one step closer to the historic mark with a 79-65 win over Pittsburgh last time out. The victory was the second straight for Duke, which now sits at 16-2 overall and 4-2 in the ACC.
Steve Lavin's Red Storm were among those ranked in the Top-25 just a short time ago. However, St. John's has struggled since Big East play has begun, with a mere 2-4 league mark. The team was able to get one of those conference wins last time out, a 60-57 decision over Marquette on Wednesday, moving to 13-5 overall.
This marks the 22nd all-time meeting in a series that dates back to 1938. Duke holds a 15-6 edge overall and won the last meeting, an 83-76 decision in 2012.
Duke put on an offensive show in the win over Pittsburgh earlier in the week, as the Blue Devils knocked down 11 3-pointers and went 20-of-25 from the free- throw line in the victory. Four player finished in double figures in the win for Duke, led by freshman point guard Tyus Jones, who matched a career-high with 22 points. Fellow freshman star Jahlil Okafor tacked on 14 points, followed by Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook, who chipped in with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Cook recorded a double-double in the win, grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds.
When Duke gets into a rhythm offensively, there aren't many teams that can match their explosiveness. The Blue Devils are among the nation's best in both scoring (81.8 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.500), while also excelling in both rebounding (+7.0) and turnover (+2.0) margins. Okafor has definitely lived up to the hype and his days in Durham could be numbered, as he is regarded as perhaps the top NBA draft prospect this season. The 6-foot-11, 270-pound youngster leads the ACC in scoring (18.6 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.670) and ranks third in rebounding (8.9 rpg). Cook is a veteran presence on an otherwise young team, posting 14.2 ppg. Justise Winslow, another freshman, ranks third on the team with 11.1 ppg. Despite his age, Jones has proved to be a solid scorer (10.1 ppg) and deft distributor (5.1 apg).
St. John's used a 9-0 run in the second half to eradicate a seven-point deficit to Marquette and held on for a three-point victory over the Golden Eagles. Sir'Dominic Painter recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way. Rysheed Jordan also netted 15 points, while Phil Greene IV and D'Angelo Harrison chipped in with 11 points apiece for St. John's, which won despite shooting just .367 from the floor overall.
The Red Storm aren't known for huge scoring totals this season, but the team does possess solid scoring depth. Harrison is one of the Big East's most explosive players, averaging a hefty 19.5 ppg. Jordan is next in line at 13.7 ppg, followed by Greene (12.5 ppg) and Pointer (11.3 ppg). The 6-6 Pointer (7.2 rpg) and 6-9 Chris Obekpa (7.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg) are a solid one-two punch at the defensive end, with Obekpa ranking third nationally in blocked shots (3.6 per game).
St. John's certainly has the talent to pull off an upset, especially at Madison Square Garden, but getting Coach K to 1,000 wins is probably motivation enough for the Blue Devils in this one.