Temple-Duke Preview

This is Duke’s only game in a 17-day span. It appears to be the

only potentially tough one for quite a bit longer than that.

Temple beat the Blue Devils last season and certainly could

provide a challenge to the nation’s second-ranked team Saturday in

a matchup of unbeatens in East Rutherford, N.J.

“This will be a good one. We’re gonna play an undefeated Temple

team with three kids that really hurt us last year who are all

back,” coach Mike Krzyzewski told Duke’s official website.

This game is at the same arena where the Blue Devils defeated

Temple in the 1999 NCAA tournament to start a nine-game win streak

in this series. The Owls halted that run with a 78-73 home victory

Jan. 4 over a Duke team that was ranked fifth.

It marked the fourth straight season Temple (6-0) has upset a

top 10 team.

“I think for these guys it gives them a jolt of confidence that

we all need that we can play at the highest level,” coach Fran

Dunphy said.

While Temple plays three top 10 opponents in its next eight

games, the Blue Devils (8-0) don’t face a ranked team in their next

seven. Their only three remaining games in December are at home

against lesser competition – Cornell, Elon and Santa Clara.

They’ve had a week off since beating Delaware 88-50 last

Saturday and will get a 10-day break after this matchup.

“We’ll see how we handle this break from competition,”

Krzyzewski said.

Temple did have a much tougher time with the teams’ one common

opponent, holding off Delaware 80-75 on Nov. 25.

That’s the only time the senior-laden Owls have allowed more

than 66 points, but they’re facing a Duke offense averaging 78.8

points and shooting 48.1 percent.

Mason Plumlee has led the way, ranking second in the ACC with

19.6 points per game while averaging a conference-best 11.0

rebounds. He’s the only player in the country averaging at least 18

points and 10 boards while shooting better than 60 percent

(65.4).

“You’re not gonna stop him from doing the things that he does,”

Dunphy said. “… You just wanna limit what the damage that he

does.”

The 6-foot-10 senior could have a big advantage against a Temple

team with only two regulars – starter Anthony Lee and fellow 6-9

forward Jake O’Brien – who are taller than 6-6. Plumlee had 16

points and 13 boards in last season’s meeting while big brother

Miles – also 6-10 and now in the NBA – scored 17.

The Plumlees couldn’t make up for the lack of production from

Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry, who accounted for 11 points. Curry,

averaging 15.1 points this season, is expected to return after

missing the Delaware game with an injured ankle. Kelly stepped up

with a season-high 18 points, and he’s 5 for 9 from 3-point range

over the last two games.

Scootie Randall tops the Owls with 16.7 points per game after

scoring 21 and hitting 5 3-pointers in a 76-61 win over Villanova

on Wednesday.

Fellow senior Khalif Wyatt shot a season-worst 4 of 16 as part

of an up-and-down campaign in which he’s averaged 15.2 points. He’s

been held below double figures twice – the same number as all of

last season, when he averaged 17.1.

While Wyatt scored 22 in January’s win over Duke, senior Rahlir

Hollis-Jefferson added 17 but enters the rematch having not reached

double figures in three straight games.

The Owls are off to their best start since opening 14-0 in

1987-88.

“Overall, they believe they can win,” Krzyzewski said, “and they

win most of the time.”