Duke confirmed its No. 1 ranking last time out with an impressive victory and hopes to stay alert when it returns home to face winless Southern on Friday night. The Blue Devils won two games by an average of almost 30 points before being tested against second-ranked Michigan State on Tuesday, and came away with an 88-81 victory in Chicago as senior guard Grayson Allen poured in a career-high 37 points.
“For me, when I get a few open looks, the basket gets bigger,” Allen, who is scoring 25.7 points per game, told reporters. “And Trevon (Duval) with 10 assists, and these first three games, he’s been finding me. I don’t even have to call for the ball sometimes, he just knows where I am.” Duval is one of a talented foursome of freshmen that have made an immediate impact for Duke, which is shooting almost 50 percent from the field and has drained 31 from 3-point range - 17 by Allen. The Blue Devils beat Michigan State with only 10 minutes from 6-11 freshman center Marvin Bagley III, who suffered what appears to be a minor eye injury. Southern has dropped its first three games on the road, including an 86-58 decision at Missouri State on Wednesday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT SOUTHERN (0-3): The Jaguars shot much better from 3-point range (9-for-21) than from inside the arc (11-for-46) and made just half of their 18 free throws in Wednesday’s loss. Forward Jared Sam, a 6-10 senior, leads the team in scoring (16.7) and rebounding (8.3) despite being limited to eight points on 3-of-12 shooting against Missouri State. Junior guard Eddie Reese (11.7 points, team-best 3.3 assists) and senior guard Richard Lee (10 points) have also contributed for the Jaguars, who are shooting just 34.9 percent from the field overall.
ABOUT DUKE (3-0): Bagley registered double-doubles in his first two games at Duke - averaging 24.5 points and 10 boards - before being limited to four and six, respectively, after taking a hand to the face against the Spartans. “His eye was starting to shut,” coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after Tuesday’s win. “At first he had a hard time seeing out of the eye. It’s scratched. I think he’ll be fine.” Freshmen Gary Trent Jr. (13.7 points), Duval (13.3 points, 10 assists) and Wendell Carter Jr. (10.7 points, 8.3 rebounds) have given Krzyzewski a strong young quartet of first-year players.
1. Allen became the 31st player at Duke to reach 1,500 points Tuesday and is the ACC active career leader with 206 made 3-pointers.
2. Southern met Duke in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament and dropped a 70-54 decision.
3. Duke’s 6-10 sophomore F Javin DeLaurier is averaging 7.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in less than 20 minutes per contest.
PREDICTION: Duke 98, Southern 64