Fresh off of a season opening victory over Georgia State on Friday night, the Duke Blue Devils will now travel to Atlanta, Georgia for arguably the most anticipated game of the season at the 2012 State Farm Champions Classic. The opponent will be the defending national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats. It’ll be the first meeting between the two elite programs since the 2001-02 season, which saw the Blue Devils defeat the Wildcats 95-92 in overtime at the 2001 Jimmy V Classic. Of course, these two schools are best known for their 1992 East Regional Finals clash where the Blue Devils won in overtime 104-103 in the “Greatest Game Ever Played”, thanks to a buzzer beating basket from then senior Christian Laettner. Duke then went on to capture their second national championship.
The Blue Devils will enter ranked as the No. 9 team in the AP Poll and No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. The Wildcats are ranked as the No. 3 team in both polls. Tuesday night’s game will be the marquee matchup following the Kansas and Michigan State game at 9:30 PM ET. It will be televised on ESPN/ESPN3 and broadcasted live on the Blue Devil IMG Sports Network.
• Tuesday’s contest features two of the most storied programs in NCAA history. Duke and Kentucky have combined for 4,061 victories and 12 national championships. In addition, Duke and Kentucky have produced a combined 11 National Players of the Year and 90 All-Americans.
• Duke, ranked No. 9 as of Nov. 11, has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll for 95 consecutive weeks. The last time Duke was not ranked in the top 10 was Nov. 19, 2007.
• Duke is 6-3 since the 2009-10 season in games against top 10 opponents. The Blue Devils have won 34 of their last 53 games when both teams have been ranked in the top 10.
• The Blue Devils are facing an SEC opponent for just the second time in the last seven years. Duke topped Tennessee, 77-67, in the opening round of the Maui Invitational last season. Coach K is 25-8 at Duke against teams currently in the SEC.
• Duke is 8-1 all-time at the Georgia Dome. The Blue Devils have won three straight games at the venue. Duke claimed the 2001 and 2009 ACC Championships and captured the 2004 NCAA Tournament South Region title at the Georgia Dome.
• In neutral settings, Duke is 160-42 vs. non-ACC foes.
• Duke looks to snap a 2-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
• Duke trails in the all-time series, 11-8, with a 6-7 mark in neutral site games.
• Duke has won six of the last seven meetings between the two schools.
• Duke and Kentucky have met five times in NCAA Tournament play with the Blue Devils trailing in the series, 3-2.
• Mike Krzyzewski is 4-1 at Duke against the Wildcats, with an average margin of victory of 10 points in the four wins.
• Six of the last eight games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.
State Farm Champions Classic History
• Duke topped Michigan State, 74-69, in its inaugural game of the Champions Classic. With the win over the Spartans, Coach K passed mentor Bob Knight as the winningest coach in NCAA history.
• The Blue Devils face Kansas in next season’s event at the United Center in Chicago.
Duke Player Statistics
• Seniors Mason Plumlee (19), Seth Curry (15) and Ryan Kelly (8) combined for 42 of Duke’s 74 points in the season opener.
• Mason Plumlee has shot 50.0 percent or better from the field in the last seven games dating back to last season. Plumlee is 35-of-53 (.660) from the field, following an 8-of-12 effort in the season opener, during that stretch.
• Plumlee recorded his 19th career double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds in the season opener. Plumlee has reached double figures in rebounding 31 times in his career.
• Plumlee is 261 rebounds shy of becoming the eighth player in Duke history to amass 1,000 career rebounds.
• Plumlee is 15 dunks shy of setting the Duke record for career dunks.
• Seth Curry has made at least one three-point field goal in 15 straight games. Curry went 3-of-7 from three-point range in the season opener and currently ranks fourth in the Duke record books with a .408 three-point field goal percentage (131-of-321).
• Ryan Kelly is 32 three-point field goals shy of joining Danny Ferry as the only Duke players 6-10 or taller to make 100 or more career threes.
• The point guard tandem of Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook combined for 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals in the win over Georgia State. The duo was 6-of-11 from the field, including 5-of-10 from three-point range against the Panthers.
• Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon started the season opener, marking the third straight season Duke has started a freshman guard in the first game of the season. He finished with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in his collegiate debut.
• Freshman Amile Jefferson tallied five points, two rebounds, one assist and a steal in his collegiate debut.
By Chad Lykins