Above, Cornell at Duke in 2008. Get all the information you need about the Cornell Big Red's game at Duke, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 7 pm (EST), nationally televised on ESPNU, with The Cornell Basketball Blog's Game Preview Center. Below, more previews for the game.
Quick Preview: The newly-crowned No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (9-0) take on the Cornell Big Red (4-5) in a match-up of two very different teams.
Start time: 7pm (ET)
The Duke Blue Devils return from an eleven-day break with a 9-0 record, a shiny new No. 1 ranking, and a match-up against the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red this afternoon.
Duke (9-0, #1), who received all but three of the first-place votes in the most recent AP Poll, matches up well with Cornell, who is currently sitting near the bottom of college basketball in Points Per Game (63.9, 259th in the nation), Field Goal Percentage (.394, 304th in the nation), assists (12.0, 233rd in the nation), and numerous other categories. By a wide margin, the Big Red’s most significant problems lie on the offensive end, where they lack dependable scorers capable of giving Cornell consistent offensive outputs. Their biggest threat is Sophomore Shonn Miller, a 6’7 and highly athletic forward who took home the Ivy League Freshman-of-the-Year honors last season. Miller has increased his output this season, improving in most statistical categories, including PPG (10.3), STL (2.0), RPG (8.2), APG (1.2), BPG (1.9), and FTP (86.8%). After Miller, however, Cornell is a mess of inconsistency and lackluster performance, with no other player averaging more than 8.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, or 2.9 APG.
The obvious observation to make here: Cornell doesn’t have the firepower to hang with Duke, as all five Blue Devils’ starters average more than Cornell’s Miller, their top scorer. If the Big Red are going to have any chance in this game, they’re going to have to put together a near flawless performance on defense, a phase they haven’t been particularly bad at this season.
-Cornell, in their only other game against a Top-25 team this season, were smothered in a 73-40 loss against the then No. 22 ranked (now unranked) Wisconsin Badgers. In the loss, all five starters combined for thirteen points…thirteen.
-The contest will mark the first time Coach K and Co. will take the court as the No. 1 team in the nation since the 2010-2011 squad. That team, which featured Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith, held onto the top spot for eleven weeks before falling to Florida State.
-Indiana’s loss to Butler, which included a lackluster performance from star Cody Zeller, had to push Mason Plumlee in the lead for POY awards. Plumlee is currently averaging 19.2 PPG and 11.3 RPG, with his best performances coming against the tougher teams on the Blue Devils’ schedule.
-The game starts at 7pm (ET) and will be televised on ESPNU.
Now that final exams are complete, the Duke basketball hiatus is finally over.
The newly No.1 ranked Blue Devils (9-0) are back in action tonight as they face Cornell (4-6) at 7:00 pm in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Here are three things to watch for in tonight’s non-conference matchup:
Marshall Plumlee’s debut
The Blue Devil frontcourt is getting substantially bigger. Recently cleared to practice after sustaining a foot injury in the preseason, redshirt freshman center Marshall Plumlee is expected to make his debut as a Duke Blue Devil tonight against the Big Red.
The 7-foot center—who was expected to be a key contributor coming into the year—should be a huge asset on the glass, one of the team’s biggest weaknesses so far this season.
Playing an inferior opponent, Plumlee—a player that is praised for his nonstop motor—should get plenty of time on the court in tonight’s contest if he is in adequate shape. Developing Plumlee into a reliable rotation player that can rebound effectively will be key for the Blue Devils as they enter conference play next month.
A hot start and a strong defensive outing
With an 11-day layoff due to a grueling exam period, how will the top-ranked Blue Devils come out of the gate? The trio of seniors—Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly—will likely not let the team come out flat, especially against a Big Red offense that has a hard time scoring, averaging a meager 63.9 points per game. Cornell only has one player—6-foot-7 forward Shonn Miller—that averages double figures, and he nets just 10.3 points per game. A fast start combined with a strong defensive effort should allow the Blue Devils to put the game away early.
More burn for the bench
Since the team will not see another ranked foe until N.C. State on Jan. 12, these next couple weeks are a golden opportunity for Duke to further develop its bench. Tonight’s tilt with a lesser Cornell squad should allow for reserves Alex Murphy, Amile Jefferson, Josh Hairston, and Marshall Plumlee to get plenty of playing time. And with building for the future in mind, games like these are important for instilling confidence in this season’s role players.
Cornell (4-6) at No. 1 Duke (9-0), 7 p.m. on ESPNU
1. Debut in blue
Duke's Marshall Plumlee is set to play in an official game for the first time in 21 months.
Plumlee helped the Christ School beat Charlotte Christian 59-57 in an NCISAA state championship game in March of 2011. Since then he's appeared in high school all-star games, college exhibitions in China and Dubai, even the N.C. Pro-Am, but he hasn't registered any official stats as a member of the Blue Devils.
Plumlee redshirted last season, and he missed the first nine games of this season while recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot. With his size (6-foot-11, 235 pounds) and energy, he can make an impact off the bench for Duke, especially as a defensive rebounder.
"People have pointed to the boards as one of our weaknesses, and I think right away he helps us on the boards," said Duke senior Mason Plumlee, Marshall's older brother. "He's athletic, he's 7 feet tall, and he goes after the ball. He's not afraid of contact."
2. Breaking down the opponent
Cornell played Monday night at Vanderbilt and lost 66-55. The Big Red trailed by 19 points in the first half and cut the deficit to two after the break.
Cornell opened the season with a win against Western Michigan, and it has lost to St. Bonaventure (72-68), Wisconsin (70-43) and Arizona State (64-53) in the most high-profile games.
In the official NCAA statistics, the Big Red ranks in the top 100 nationally in one category: free-throw percentage. It averages 64.9 points per game with one double-figure scorer in 6-7, 210-pound sophomore forward Shonn Miller (10.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks). Each of the team's top three scorers is either a freshman or sophomore.
3. Rounding back into form
Duke, which last played 11 days ago and is in action for the second time since Dec. 1, has another game Thursday against Elon. The Blue Devils played three straight days in the Bahamas, beating Minnesota, VCU and Louisville at the Battle 4 Atlantis event.
Duke's Seth Curry, who has been dealing with a right shin injury, played 33 minutes, 31 minutes and 34 minutes in those contests.