Previewing Davidson

De'Mon Brooks

Duke begins the new year with a trip to Charlotte to face the Davidson Wildcats in the last non-conference matchup before ACC begins on Saturday.

With the conference schedule looming, the Blue Devils will travel to Charlotte for one final tune up against the Davidson Wildcats. And though Davidson sits at just 7-5 on the season, head coach Bob McKillop's program is no stranger to success, and believes in the possibility of an upset.

After all, Davidson returns the SoCon's Player of the Year in Demon Brooks along with four other starters from a team that pushed 2012 Final Four participant Louisville into the final moments in the second round of the tournament in March.

So far this season the Wildcats have been on a bit of a roller coaster while searching for consistency. They opened the season by losing two of their first three games before tearing past Vanderbilt and Virginia to the final of the Old Spice Classic. Once in the championship game the Wildcats were pushed aside by then No. 17 Gonzaga by 14. Since then Davidson has four of six contents including last week's matchup against Richmond.

It seemed as though the game against the Spiders was well in hand with Davidson leading by 23 before Richmond roared back to tie the game at 61 before McKillop's team closed the game on a 9-3 spurt.

Quotable:

"I'm really excited about that game in Charlotte, and we're going to be ready for it. It's a lot of fun for me to have a lot of family and friends in the stands. Every game here at Duke is a big-time game, so it shouldn't be any different." — Seth Curry on his homecoming game in Charlotte.

"We need to understand that when we fight, teams are going to fight back." - Davidson coach Bob McKillop

PREGAME NOTES

Series Notes: This will be the 106th time the Blue Devils and Wildcats have met with Duke holding an 88-17 advantage in the series. Under head coach Bob McKillop, the Wildcats have lost all 16 contests to Duke. Overall, Duke has won 23 straight games in the series.

The last time Duke was ranked No.1 against Davidson was during the 2002 season, exactly 11 years ago. In that game Duke defeated the Wildcats 106-71.

A season ago the Blue Devils had a much tougher time against the Wildcats, winning 82-69. In that game Austin Rivers and Seth Curry each scored 17 points to rally the Blue Devils from a one point halftime deficit. Mason Plumlee added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils who went on a 33-11 run over an 11 minute stretch in the second half to put the game out of reach with just over six minutes remaining.

Davidson's last victory against Duke came Dec. 29, 1981, when the Wildcats topped the Blue Devils 75-73 at the Iron Duke Classic in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Experienced bigs: Starting forwards De'Mon Brooks and Jake Cohen split the Southern Conference Player of the Year awards a season ago, and seem intent on renewing the battle for conference post season honors again this year. The 6-foot-7 Brooks had a strong November, earning conference player of the month honors after averaging 17.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the first six contests of the year. Meanwhile, the 6'10 Cohen has averaged just under 13 points per game while grabbing five boards in 25 minutes per night. Cohen's ability to score in a number of ways was on full display last March when he recorded 24 points and 10 boards against Louisville. Despite his ability to score in a number of ways, there are times when Cohen disappears in the rebounding column. Through 12 games this season he's recorded games of 0, 2, 3, and 4 boards total. In those four contests, Davidson is just 2-2.

Experienced floor generals: Point guard play hasn't been a problem for the Wildcats this year as Cousy Award candidate J.P. Kuhlman has run the show in Charlotte. A season ago the 6'4 floor general played well against Duke, logging 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists, and has continued that balanced play as a senior in 2012-2013. Joining Kuhlman is classmate Nik Cochran, a 6'3 Canadian who led the team in assists a season ago. This year the roles seem reversed with Cochran looking to score a bit more than Kuhlman, though both handle the ball extensively in the offense. The difference has been in the turnover department where Cochran has a 1.2 to 1.0 assist to turnover ration whereas Kuhlman has taken better care of the ball with a 2.1 to 1.0 ratio.

Accepting charity: One thing opponents want to avoid is placing Cochran at the free throw line if at all possible. On the season the senior is hitting 96 percent of his free throws. He has made 60 of his last 63 attempts and ranks No.2 in the nation at the stripe.

As a team the Wildcats are shooting 79.5 percent from the free throw line, which is the third best percentage in the nation. Oddly enough, of the five starters, the one to foul has been the point guard, Kuhlman who is shooting just 62.1 percent from the line. Reserve Tom Droney joins Cochran above 90 percent at 91.7 percent on the season while Brooks and Cohen are both shooting 81 percent or better.

Run out to the perimeter: As with most mid-major programs who have enjoyed success, the Wildcats know how to make use of the perimeter jumper. The team has hit at least one three pointer in the last 584 games, a streak that dates back to 1994 when the Wildcats beat East Tennessee State without attempting a three.

International flavor: The Wildcat program has long made a point to recruit internationally whenever possible. This season the program is home to four international players. Nik Cochran is from Canada, Ali Mackay is from Scotland, Chris Czerapowicz is from Sweden and Youssef Mejri is from Tunisia.

NUMBERS GAME
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

  • Duke, ranked No. 1 in the latest AP Poll, has been ranked in the top 10 of the poll 102 consecutive weeks. The last time Duke was not ranked in the top 10 was Nov. 19, 2007. Duke is playing its 189th straight game as a top-10 team in the AP poll. Duke is 158-30 in that span.
  • Under Coach K, Duke has played more games as a No. 1 team (212 entering Wednesday's contest) than it has as an unranked team (141).
  • Under Coach K, Duke has played more games as a No. 1 team (209 entering Wednesday's contest) than it has as an unranked team (141).
  • The Blue Devils have won their first game after the turn of the calendar in 16 straight seasons. Duke is 29-3 under Coach K in the first game of the calendar year with the last loss coming on Jan. 3, 1996 against Clemson.
  • Duke's starting lineup has accounted for 87.2 percent of the team's total scoring this season with 849 of Duke's 974 points. The starters have accounted for 47 of Duke's 49 double-figure scoring games on the year.
  • Mason Plumlee has scored 16 or more points in all 12 games this season and ranks second in the ACC in scoring (19.5 ppg.). He also leads the league in rebounding (11.6 rpg.) and double-doubles (eight). Plumlee is attempting to become just the fifth player in Duke history to average 19.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game for a season.
  • Quinn Cook has 30 assists and just seven turnovers in his last five games while averaging 10.6 points per game during that span. He is shooting .556 (10-of-18) from three-point range during that stretch.

Projected Starters:
05 JP Kuhlman (6-4, 195, Sr.) - 7.9 ppg, 3.8 apg
12 Nik Cochran (6-3, 188, Sr.) - 9.0 ppg, 3.2 apg
35 Chris Czerapowicz (6-7, 200, Jr.) - 8.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 48% 3pt
15 Jake Cohen (6-10, 235, Sr.) - 12.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
24 De'Mon Brooks (6-7, 230, Jr.) - 15.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 84% FT

Top Reserves
04 Tyler Kalinoski (6-4, 175, So.) - 7.8 ppg, 2.2 apg
23 Tom Droney (6-6, 200, Jr.) - 3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 92% FT
40 Clint Mann (6-7, 230, Sr.) - 7.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg

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