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Previewing Duke vs. NC State: Stupid Blue Devils stupid loaded again why must life be so hard

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch the game

Tip time: 1:30 p.m. ET

TV: CBS (Spero Dedes, Greg Anthony)

Online streaming: n/a

Radio: SiriusXM 91, Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Duke vitals

Record: 14-0 (2-0)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 3
RPI: No. 5
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 6
Best win: Wisconsin (No. 4 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: n/a

Adjusted tempo: 68.0 poss/40 minutes (ranks 64th)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 121.0 (ranks 1st)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 89.6 (ranks 11th)

Duke @ StatSheet
Duke roster
Duke schedule
Duke 2014 stats / 2015 stats

The Duke offense and starters

Duke Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 53.8 (26) 14.6 (10) 35.2 (47) 38.8 (220)
2014-15 58.7 (3) 16.5 (32) 37.8 (23) 44.2 (40)

Look, everybody, Duke has a great offense again! The Blue Devils are well on the way to finishing in the top five nationally in offensive efficiency for the third straight year; they haven't finished outside the top 10 since 2008. Lethal production has rarely been a problem for Mike Krzyzewski since he ascended to the throne of all amateur hoops some time in the 1990s. (That's how he hurt his back that one time. Big throne. Made out of American Express cards, too. Real nice ones.)

By Pomeroy's measure, Duke's Jabari Parker-led offense was a touch better (1.23 pts/poss) than this Jahlil Okafor outfit (1.21), but now that the Devils are keying off of a great low-post player, they are more well-rounded. The overall output is about the same, but the contours have changed, because Okafor and Parker obviously are very different players.

Duke isn't shooting threes as often this season, though the Blue Devils still have plenty of effective options there. They could take more and I'm sure they would continue making them at a high rate. But they're rightfully making sure the big fella is getting his touches and doing the heavy lifting, and the results from that have been spectacular: Okafor is shooting 68.1% inside the arc, while Duke as a team is hitting 58.8% of its twos. Duke made a shade over half its twos last season.

The Devils are grabbing more of their missed shots as well--with Okafor and Amile Jefferson, Duke has two elite offensive rebounders who spend a whole lot of time on the floor. Even Marshall Plumlee has been terrific in this area, albeit in brief stints.

As if those improvements were not enough, Duke is getting itself to the free throw line more often, too. Fine, Duke, just be good at every damned thing, why don't you. FINE.



Tyus Jones (6-1, 190) -- Jones has been content to remain in the background when it comes to scoring while making sure that the ball finds the right hands. It's not that Jones is a slouch himself--his 52.4 effective field goal percentage is hardly a liability--it's just that at any given time there tends to be better options on the court. Jones has been tremendous in his role, though, particularly in his knack for drawing fouls. His free throw rate ranks 32nd nationally; he is also an 85.5% free throw shooter.

His middling 2FG% (short guy probz!) makes it clear enough the outcome you want to get out of Jones when he's penetrating, but being able to execute is a whole other issue, much to the despair of untold opposing coaches. Like the war on drugs, he is a sinkhole into which opponents will optimistically and often pointlessly toss their resources, hoping for the best but changing little. The free throws will flow, man.

Quinn Cook (6-2, 185) -- He's shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc, and with 91 attempts in 14 games, he's been taking about half a dozen per outing. He is easily Duke's most frequent outside shooter, as nobody else has tried more than 49 threes. Cook is also hitting 63% of his twos, well above his respectable 49.0 career 2FG%. With the added accuracy there, he's in the midst of the best shooting season of his career. Dude's missed one free throw all year (30-31).

Justise Winslow (6-6, 225) -- Winslow, I mean, he's got some stuff. He's got some bits and pieces going on. Winslow uses his size effectively off the dribble, and worse, he's shooting nearly 39% from three. Have to respect the jumper, so preventing him from doing powerful large man things is that much more difficult. If he were better than 62.7% at the free throw line, he'd be a genuine terror what with the number of fouls he's able to draw.

Amile Jefferson (6-9, 215) -- Amile Jefferson, eternally hiding in plain sight despite efficient play. His secondary scoring role is not going to change at Duke, though that seems to be working out okay for everybody. Jefferson is a career 61.2% shooter inside the arc, and he's been an excellent rebounder throughout his career.

Jahlil Okafor (6-11, 270) -- Okafor takes about 28% of Duke's shots while on the court, yet despite the heavy workload he is incredibly effective, as I've mentioned. Hell, give him more shots. Heap the shots all up on this man. He's not fair. Super, really, completely not fair. And I say that with all due admiration.

He can be a little turnover prone. His FT% is only 56.6. Beyond that, though, it's all scary.

The Duke bench and defense

Reserves: Rasheed Sulaimon (6-5, 195), Matt Jones (6-5, 210), Marshall Plumlee (7-0, 255), Grayson Allen (6-4, 195). You didn't think Duke had run out of Plumlees, did you? Heck, this Plumlee has another year of eligibility. By 2016, Mason Plumlee will have had his 5th child, all of them somehow fully-grown 15-to-18-year-olds, and the cycle shall begin anew.

Sulaimon and Jones both shoot north of 40% from three. Sulaimon has been a good shooter throughout his career but Jones is more mystery after a dreadful freshman season in which he hit 40% of his twos and 14.3% of his threes (in severely limited minutes).

Duke Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 49.3 (151) 18.5 (157) 31.3 (167) 40.8 (177)
2014-15 44.8 (61) 20.5 (120) 27.5 (48) 22.1 (3)

Duke's uncharacteristic tendency to disappear last year led to some weird results; Vermont scored 90 points in 65 possessions in Cameron, Wake managed 82 points on 67 possessions in Winston-Salem, Jerian Grantless Notre Dame managed 79 points on 64 possessions. Even Clemson was made to look good not once but twice. Oh, and Mercer scored 78 on 64. One last defensive meltdown to end them all.

The Blue Devils allowed at least 1.1 points per possession in 11 games last season. This is going to be less of a problem in 2015. The only Duke foe to crack 1.1 PPP thus far was Wisconsin, and Duke can be forgiven in that instance. Heading into Sunday, they've kept six straight opponents under a point per possession.

Their perimeter defense is vintage Coach K (even last year, they still had this part down): they not only suppress three-point attempts, they also do a great job of limiting opponents' accuracy on the shots that do get launched. Their interior defense is much better--average relative to the rest of the country, but that's definitely preferable to the mess it was in 2014.

So they're forcing missed shots at a rate K is used to enjoying, with improvements in every other defensive factor strengthening the effort. What was a liability (Duke was 116th in defensive efficiency last season) is now a strength.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Duke by 10.