North Carolina (16-7, 6-4) vs. Duke (19-5, 8-3)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Smith Center
Wednesday, 9 p.m.
ACCN (Tim Brando, Dan Bonner)
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale)
“I think our team is the best it’s been right now. And I think we’re very good. But ... we can lose really easier than last year’s team.” – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
“That’s one of the reasons you come to Duke. You want to play in this type of game.” – Duke forward Rodney Hood on the UNC-Duke rivalry
Season to Date: Duke enters Wednesday’s contest with a 19-5 (8-3 ACC) record. The Blue Devils suffered losses to Kansas and Arizona in November before bouncing back with quality wins over Michigan and UCLA in December. They opened their ACC slate with road losses at Notre Dame and Clemson sandwiched around a home blowout of Georgia Tech. Mike Krzyzewski’s squad has since won seven of its last eight games – the lone loss coming in overtime at No. Syracuse, 91-89 – and has outscored its opponents during that stretch by 17.0 points.
Freshman Force: Jabari Parker arrived in Durham with plenty of hype and he’s done nothing to change those expectations. The Chicago, Ill. native leads the ACC in rebounding (8.5 rpg) and ranks second in the league in scoring (19.2 ppg) on 48.2 percent shooting (4th ACC). The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder earned ACC Player and Freshman of the Week honors last week after averaging 25.0 points on 74.1 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds in wins over Wake Forest and Boston College. Parker now has seven ACC Freshman of the Week honors on his resume, trailing UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough and Georgia Tech’s Kenny Anderson all-time record by three.
Quality Addition: Rodney Hood transferred from Mississippi State to Duke in the summer of 2012 following the retirement of head coach Rick Stansbury. After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, the sophomore forward has been a steady presence alongside Parker for the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-8, 215-pound team captain is second on the team in scoring (16.5 ppg). He also ranks third in field goal percentage (49.4), seventh in free throw percentage (83.0) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (45.0) in the ACC.
Lights Out from Deep: Duke leads the country in 3-point field goal percentage (42.0) and ranks fifth in made 3-pointers per game (9.7). Those numbers are even higher in ACC play as the Blue Devils are shooting 43.0 percent and making 10.6 3-pointers per game. Five different players are shooting higher than 36 percent in ACC play, while four are shooting better than 43 percent. Rasheed Sulaimon (57.6) and Tyler Thornton (57.1) have been lethal secondary options to Hood (46.8) and Andre Dawkins (43.8). Over its last four games, Duke is shooting 47.2 percent from beyond the arc on 51-of-108 shooting.
Offensive Efficiency: Duke currently leads the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (128.6) – points scored per 100 possessions against an average D-I defense – according to kenpom.com. If that level of efficiency stays intact for the remainder of the season, it would represent the highest rating since Pomeroy started tracking the stat in 2003.
Troubling D: Given Duke’s offensive firepower, it’s hard to fathom how the Blue Devils have lost five games on the season and trail Syracuse by three games in the conference standings. Poor defense, however, is the reason why. Duke ranks 14th in ACC play in field goal percentage defense (46.8) and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (37.2). The Blue Devils also occupy the ACC cellar in blocked shots at 2.5 per game, which highlights the team’s struggles to defend at the rim.
Last Meeting: The Blue Devils defeated the Tar Heels, 69-53, at the Smith Center on Mar. 9, 2013. Duke built a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game and shot 69.2 percent in the first half. James Michael McAdoo led UNC with 15 points and P.J. Hairston added 14.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Duke, 132-104. The Tar Heels are 15-13 at the Smith Center, although the Blue Devils have won 10 of the last 15 in Chapel Hill. Duke has won seven of the last nine in the series.
3 Tyler Thornton (6-2, 190, Sr.) - 3.2 ppg, 2.2 apg
14 Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 190, So.) - 9.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg
5 Rodney Hood (6-8, 215, So.) - 16.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg
1 Jabari Parker (6-8, 235, Fr.) - 19.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg
21 Amile Jefferson (6-9, 210, So.) - 7.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg
2 Quinn Cook (6-2, 180, Jr.) - 12.3 ppg, 5.2 apg
34 Andre Dawkins (6-5, 215, Sr.) - 9.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg
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(Photos by USA Today Sports)