The No. 1 Duke basketball team will put its 12-0 record on the line as it concludes non-conference play and begins 2013 in Charlotte against Davidson at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte.
The Blue Devils have won their last 23 meetings against the Wildcats, who are 7-5 to begin the season.
Here are the three keys to tonight’s action, which tips of at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Don’t overlook the Wildcats
Davidson may have already lost five games this season, but three of those losses have been within five points. The only ranked team they have played this season was Gonzaga—to whom they lost by 14 points—but the Wildcats have also beaten major conference schools in Vanderbilt and West Virginia. Even though Davidson comes from a small conference, the SoCon, they have bodies that allow them to compete. 6-foot-7 forward De’Mon Brooks is averaging 15.2 points per game and is a versatile scorer with the ability to make moves in the post or knock down jumpers. Fellow forward Jake Cohen, averaging 12.7 points per game, stands at 6-foot-10 and can also stroke.
Get ready for a shootout
Duke is currently No. 4 in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage, knocking down 41.5% of its shots from deep. The Blue Devils have been particularly hot lately—they are 18-of-33 (54.5%) from distance in their last two games. Davidson, though, isn’t too shabby from long range, hitting at a respectable 39.4% clip. The Wildcats are hitting 7.9 3-pointers per game, which is actually slightly more than Duke’s 7.8. If the Blue Devils cool down and Davidson heats up, this could be an exciting free-for-all for these talented 3-point shooters.
Can Curry and Plumlee be contained?
If Davidson can learn one lesson from Duke’s 90-77 victory against Santa Clara, it’s this: You can’t beat Duke unless you contain Seth Curry, who scored a career-high 31 points in the contest. Hampered by leg injuries all season, Curry has been worn down at points but clearly benefits from time off between games. He was recently named a captain—joining fellow seniors Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly with the title—and also earned ACC Player of the Week honors for his efforts against Santa Clara.
But stopping Curry isn’t enough. Even when he has had down games this season, the Blue Devils have been able to rely on the consistent production of Plumlee, whose 22 points and 13 rebounds were overshadowed by Curry’s shooting in the last game. In most other contexts, such an effort would have been the storyline, but when both of these guys are on, they are a lethal tandem. Cohen will likely be tasked with trying to slow Plumlee down, and we’ll see if he’s up to the task.