Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The Duke Blue Devils will try to remain unbeaten at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season, as they entertain the Gardner- Webb Runnin' Bulldogs on Monday night.
Gardner-Webb has been on the upswing in recent weeks, as it has won four of its last five games to move above .500 (6-5) for the first time this season. The Bulldogs most recently hosted Clearwater Christian on Saturday night and did what was expected of them by dismissing their overmatched foe, 106-54.
Although Duke is still considered to be one of the nation's elite teams, it fell short in early tests against nationally-ranked opponents Kansas (94-83) and Arizona (72-66), with both losses coming on neutral floors. The Blue Devils stepped up their play against Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 3 by registering their most impressive victory of the season, 79-69. They bring a 99-game home winning streak against unranked, non-conference foes into this contest.
In the only previous meeting between these two programs on Dec. 15, 2009, Duke made easy work of Gardner-Webb in a 113-68 triumph.
The Bulldogs' latest game was never in doubt, as they scored nearly twice as many points as they allowed by shooting a scorching 70.5 percent from the field. Leading the nearly flawless charge was Tyrell Nelson, who shot 9-of-10 from the field for 20 points in just 19 minutes off the bench. Jerome Hill tallied 13 points and seven rebounds, Donta Harper and Naji Hibbert put up 12 and 10 points, respectively, and Tyler Strange got his teammates involved with 13 assists compared to only one turnover. Garder-Webb, which shoots 46.4 percent from the field for 73.3 points per game this season, is used to getting well-rounded performances, as it boasts nine players who average at least 4.4 points per game. Hibbert (12.7 ppg) and Harper (12.1 ppg) are the club's go-to options, while Hill (10.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Nelson (10.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) have been impressive in the paint. Strange (8.6 ppg) is tied for 21st in the country with 6.1 assists per game.
The Blue Devils made a statement the last time out by shooting 50 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line, as they beat Michigan by double digits. Quinn Cook was the catalyst with 24 points and nine assists, and he helped his cause at the charity stripe with a perfect 10-of-10 showing. Jabari Parker shot 7-of-14 from the field for 15 points, a season-low for the sensational freshman, while Rodney Hood added 14 points to the winning effort. Scoring hasn't been an issue for Duke this season, as it pours in 86.1 points per game while tying for sixth in the nation in field goal percentage (.519). The team has done a decent job taking care of the basketball, committing just 10.3 turnovers per game while forcing 12.7. Parker (22.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg) has quickly established himself as one of the nation's best players, as he boasts excellent percentages from the field (.548) and 3-point range (.467). Hood (19.3 ppg) is an outstanding second option, while Cook is a point guard who is equally adept at shooting the ball (.495 FG percentage, 14.6 ppg) as he is dishing it off to his teammates (6.3 apg).