Fourth-ranked Blue Devils take aim at Paladins

Nov 26, 2014 - 4:30 PM Durham, NC ( - The fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils return to the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, as they play host to the Furman Paladins.

Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are 5-0 on the young season and have played three straight neutral site games. The team knocked off Michigan State in Indianapolis last week and followed that up by capturing the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic title with wins over Temple (74-54) and Stanford (70-59) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Duke has beaten 111 straight non-conference opponents at home, the longest such streak in the nation.

This game represents the first road test for Niko Medved's Paladins. Furman opened the season with three straight home games, but that didn't really turn out as expected, as Furman sits at just 1-2 on the year, with losses to Charleston (75-40) and UC Davis (58-55) sandwiched around a win over Appalachian State (84-65).

Duke has won six of the seven all-time meetings with Furman, although this is the first meeting in the series since 1965.

Furman returns three starters from last year's squad that finished 9-21 overall, but that hasn't seemed to be a huge bonus thus far. Stephen Croone averaged just over 19 points per game as a sophomore last season and while he is still the team's top scoring option this time around, he is a bit off that pace, netting 13.5 ppg. Providing limited scoring depth is Kris Acox and Daniel Fowler, who chip in with 9.3 and 9.0 ppg, respectively. Scoring has been a problem in the early going for the Paladins, who are averaging just 59.7 ppg and are saddled with a -6.3 scoring margin.

Offensive consistency was once again the problem in the loss to UC Davis last time out, as Furman connected on just 41.9 percent from the floor, including just 6-of-24 from behind the arc. Croone led three Paladins in double figures with 15 points. John Davis added 14 points off the bench, while Fowler finished with 11 points.

A lack of scoring will be a huge problem against a Duke team that can run opponents out of the building. The Blue Devils have done a good job of that through five games, enjoying a +32.0 scoring margin. The team is shooting .518 from the floor overall, including .417 from behind the arc. The result is 89.4 ppg. The team has a trio of top-notch scorers, two of which are freshmen. Senior guard Quinn Cook leads the way with 17.0 ppg, thanks in large part to his team-high 17 3-pointers. Freshman center Jahlil Okafor has lived up to his billing as an interior force. The 7-footer is shooting .600 from the floor and averages 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Justise Winslow isn't far behind with 15.4 ppg. Yet another newcomer, freshman point guard Tyus Jones (9.2 ppg) has done a little bit of everything and leads the team in assists (25) and steals (10) thus far.

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