North Carolina (18-7, 8-4) vs. Duke (21-5, 10-3)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Smith Center
Thursday, 9 p.m.
ACCN (Tim Brando, Dan Bonner)
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale)
"We better guard [the 3-point line] better tomorrow night because I think they’re the best three-point shooting team in the country. They shoot 42 percent in conference games and we have no one individual on our team shooting that well." - UNC head coach Roy Williams
"We want to make sure that everyone on our team knows that they’re important. You can get into playing seven or eight guys, and a kid might lose his confidence or he can think you don’t have confidence in him." - Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski on his recent trend of subbing in groups of five
Season to Date: Duke enters Wednesday’s contest with a 21-5 (10-3 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 nine of its last 10 games – the lone loss coming in overtime at No. Syracuse, 91-89 – and has outscored its opponents during that stretch by 13.4 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 (8.7 rpg) and ranks second in the league in scoring (19.2 ppg) on 47.8 percent shooting (4th ACC). The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder earned ACC Player and Freshman of the Week honors two weeks ago after averaging 25.0 points on 74.1 percent shooting and 12.0 rebounds in wins over Wake Forest and Boston College. He picked up ACC Freshman of the Week honors last week after scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds against Maryland. Parker now has eight ACC Freshman of the Week honors on his resume, trailing UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough and Georgia Tech’s Kenny Anderson all-time record by two.
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 (16.2 ppg). He also ranks fifth in field goal percentage (47.8), fifth in free throw percentage (83.7) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (45.5) in the ACC.
Lights Out from Deep: Duke is tied for second nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (41.6) and ranks sixth in made 3-pointers per game (9.5). Those numbers are even higher in ACC play as the Blue Devils are shooting 43.6 percent and making 10.2 3-pointers per game. Five different players are shooting higher than 33 percent in ACC play, while four are shooting better than 43 percent. Rasheed Sulaimon (53.8) and Tyler Thornton (51.9) have been lethal secondary options to Hood (47.2) and Andre Dawkins (43.8). Over its last six games, Duke is shooting 44.0 percent from beyond the arc on 66-of-150 shooting.
Offensive Efficiency: Duke currently leads the country in adjusted offensive efficiency (126.3) – 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 (45.8) and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (35.4). The Blue Devils also ranks 13th in blocked shots at 2.7 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.) - 3.3 ppg, 2.3 apg
14 Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 190, So.) - 9.3 ppg, 2.4 apg
5 Rodney Hood (6-8, 215, So.) - 16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg
1 Jabari Parker (6-8, 235, Fr.) - 19.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg
21 Amile Jefferson (6-9, 210, So.) - 6.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg
2 Quinn Cook (6-2, 180, Jr.) - 12.0 ppg, 4.9 apg
34 Andre Dawkins (6-5, 215, Sr.) - 9.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg
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(Photos by USA Today Sports)