Two undefeated teams will clash in the championship game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center on Saturday evening, as the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils take on the Stanford Cardinal.
This game renews a relationship between Stanford's Johnny Dawkins and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. Dawkins came to Duke in 1982 as a blue-chip recruit and was a huge part of Coach K's early success with the program. He returned to the coaching staff in Durham in 1998 and stayed until taking the Stanford job in 2008.
Dawkins' Cardinal opened the 2014-15 season with a couple of double-digit wins at home, topping both Wofford (74-59) and South Dakota (84-73) with relative ease. Stanford continued its dominant play in Friday's matchup against UNLV in this event, routing the Rebels, 89-60.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils have certainly lived up to their billing in the early stages of this season and their ultra-talented youngsters have paid immediate dividends. Duke is off to a 4-0 start with all four wins coming via double digits, including Friday's 20-point win over Temple (74-54).
This is just the third-ever meeting between these two storied programs on the hardwood. Stanford has won both prior meetings by a single point, the most recent being an 84-83 shootout in the 2000 Pete Newell Challenge.
The Cardinal have been highly effective on the offensive end through their three games, shooting a healthy .482 from the floor. The team has been able to control the boards as well, averaging 40.7 rpg and holds a +13.0 rebounding advantage. Senior guard Chasson Randle leads the team with 17.7 ppg. Balance comes down low with senior center Stefan Nastic, who adds 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Yet more veterans - senior Anthony Brown (15.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and junior Roscoe Allen (11.0 ppg) provide valuable leadership, while freshman Reid Travis (10.3 ppg) gives the team a youthful contributor.
In the lopsided win over UNLV, the Cardinal were red-hot shooting the basketball, including an impressive 14-of-20 from behind the arc. Randle was a big part of that, as he dropped in 18 points, thanks entirely to his 6-of-10 effort from 3-point range. Brown matched Randle's scoring output with 18 points of his own, while Allen and Nastic finished with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
It wasn't the best offensive showing for Duke on Friday, as Temple got physical with the Blue Devils, who clearly didn't like that style of play. The Blue Devils shot just .391 from the floor, including a mere 7-of-23 from long range. Guard Quinn Cook led the way for Duke with 17 points. Freshman center Jahlil Okafor wasn't far behind with 16 points, but it was volume driven, as Temple contested everything inside from the big man, who was just 7-of-20 from the floor. Fellow freshman Justise Winslow added 15 points for Duke, which played tight defense in holding Temple to just a .373 shooting performance and forcing 17 turnovers.
With the exception of Friday's outing, Duke has really had no problems offensively. The Blue Devils are averaging a whopping 94.3 ppg. Okafor has lived up to his billing as the nation's top recruit, as the 7-foot youngster is shooting .640 from the floor and leads the team with 17.3 ppg. Quinn Cook is a close second at 16.8 ppg. Winslow (15.8 ppg) and Tyus Jones (10.8 ppg) add to the youth movement in Durham.