Published November 20, 2014
The Duke Blue Devils will try to match the longest home winning streak in program history tonight, as they welcome conference clash.
UNC Greensboro has had a rough go of it here in the first month and a half of the season, winning just twice in 11 opportunities. The Spartans have already played three Southern Conference bouts, losing each of them. The team is currently mired in a six-game losing streak, with the most recent setback taking place at home last Friday in a 71-62 decision against East Carolina, and the horrid start recently cost coach Mike Dement his job. Assistant coach Wes Miller takes over on an interim basis, and he will try to guide the Spartans to their first road win of the season in this, their seventh attempt.
Duke has been idle since December 10, the team last playing in New York City in a game that it won over Washington in an 86-80 final. The Blue Devils have won 40 straight home games, and have been the victors in a staggering 83 percent of their home games all-time (878-185). Duke is coached by the legendary Mike Krzyzewski, and he has directed the program to 47 straight victories over teams from the Southern Conference. Following this clash and one against Western Michigan on December 30, the Blue Devils will take on a pair of Philadelphia schools in Penn (January 1) and Temple (January 4) before kicking off ACC action at Georgia Tech on January 7.
Duke has dominated the all-time series with UNC Greensboro, winning all nine previous meetings, and the Blue Devils' average margin of victory is a whopping 38.9 points.
A lack of offensive punch has hurt the Spartans more times than not this season, as the team is averaging just 63.9 ppg on 37.2 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 30.1 percent showing from three-point range. The team has just one double-digit scorer in Trevis Simpson (16.0 ppg), and his closest teammate average less than half that amount (Korey Van Dussen, 7.8 ppg). UNCG has really struggled at the defensive end as well, yielding 76.5 ppg on typical shooting outputs of 49.6 percent overall and 43.1 percent from beyond the arc. The team is about dead even in rebounding (35.8 rpg to 35.9 rpg), and it actually owns a favorable turnover margin (+0.5). Simpson was once again the high man for the Spartans in their recent loss to East Carolina, netting 24 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the floor. He was just 3- of-10 from long range, the team going a mere 5-of-24 (.208) from beyond the arc. Van Dussen added 11 points, and Aaron Brackett notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. However, 18 turnovers proved costly, as did an 18-5 deficit in points from the foul line.
Producing on offense certainly hasn't been an area of concern for Duke this season, as the team is putting up nearly 80 ppg on the strength of 47.8 percent overall field goal accuracy, which includes a 39.4 effort from three- point range. A total of five players are averaging double digits in the scoring column, led by freshman Austin Rivers with his 15.8 ppg. Seth Curry (12.6 ppg, 3.3 apg), Ryan Kelly (12.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Mason Plumlee (12.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.9 bpg) and Andre Dawkins (10.3 ppg) have all performed well for Coach K's club, which has at times shown some lapses on defense, as foes are netting 70.1 ppg in hitting 44.5 percent of their total shots and 34.2 percent of their three-pointers. Duke does come up with 16.3 turnovers per outing, however. Rivers poured in 18 points, Dawkins had 17 off the bench, Kelly added 16 and Plumlee tallied a dozen as the Blue Devils got past Washington at Madison Square Garden the last time out. Duke won the game despite shooting just 61 percent from the foul line (27-of-44).