Durham, NC – The eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils begin the 2012-13 season with a great deal of optimism and perhaps a bit of a chip on their shoulder as they take on the Georgia State Panthers at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke posted a 27-win season last year, finishing second in the ACC behind rival North Carolina. However, the year ended abruptly with a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament, getting upset by 15th-seeded Lehigh. The Blue Devils have won 94 straight non-conference home games, the longest such streak in the nation.
The Panthers are a team on the rise, after posting 22 wins in Ron Hunter's first season at the helm. Despite the impressive win total, the team finished a modest sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association (11-7).
This is the first-ever meeting between these two teams.
Ron Hunter's debut with the Panthers was certainly a successful one. Half of the wins came in conference play and the hope is that the team can maintain its strong play in Hunter's second season. Gone are four of last year's five starters however, leaving Hunter with plenty of work to do. The lone holdout is point guard Devonta White (12.9 ppg). Virginia Tech transfer Manny Atkins (6-6, 205) will finally get on the floor for Georgia State, and he could certainly help. Other newcomers of note include Markus Crider (6-6, 205) and R.J. (6-5 guard), the coach's son. The starting five to begin the season is rounded out by 6-10 senior center James Vincent.
The Blue Devils won 27 games last year, but Mike Krzyzewski's squad faltered down the stretch, including an early exit from the NCAA Tournament. Duke hasn't missed a Big Dance since 1985 and it isn't likely that the streak will end this season. There are holes to fill with the departures of Austin Rivers, Miles Plumlee, and Andre Dawkins, who decided to take a redshirt season to deal with some personal issues. However, Coach K still has plenty to work with. The backcourt has plenty of depth with junior Tyler Thornton, senior Seth Curry (13.2 ppg), sophomore Quinn Cook (6-1, 175) and freshman Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 185), who was a McDonald's All-American. There is depth up front as well, with Mason Plumlee (11.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Ryan Kelly (11.8 ppg) leading the way. Redshirt freshmen Marshall Plumlee (6-11, 225) and Alex Murphy (6-8, 220) will get plenty of minutes as well.