No. 5 Duke v Maine: ESPN2/WatchESPN
DURHAM, N.C., Sporting Alert — No. 5 Duke will be back on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham this weekend when they host Maine live on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app on Saturday.
The Blue Devils (7-1), who have won five games in a row since losing to Kansas last month, will hunt their sixth win at home this weekend.
Duke has already beaten Marist, Grand Canyon, William & Mary, Appalachian State and Michigan State at Cameron Indoor Stadium this early term and is hoping to thrill the home fans again with another win.
With three of the program’s top freshmen unavailable through the opening eight games of the season, coach Mike Krzyzewski has been forced to put several of the players on extended minutes.
Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden have been participating in pregame warmups, but are yet to play, while junior guard Grayson Allen and sophomore forward Chase Jeter have been playing hurt.
“I have tough kids,” Krzyzewski said. “I have really tough kids.”
Fifth-year senior forward Amile Jefferson, who is averaging 14 points and 9.9 rebounds per game added: “Playing six guys is never going to be easy. But guys have to always be tough.”
After receiving a medical pass to play another season, Jefferson has been one of the players stepping up to help guide the Blue Devils through the rocky parts.
The graduate student has grabbed four double-doubles already this term and is shooting 64.2 percent.
So far there are five players averaging in double-digit scoring with Luke Kennard (17.5) and Grayson Allen (17.1) leading the way.
Freshman guard Frank Jackson is also having an impressive early campaign, averaging 15.4 points per game.
“We have this inner toughness,” Jefferson said. “A toughness of the heart and the spirit more than physical.
“Our guys have always come ready to play.”
Meanwhile, Maine is coming off an 82-61 home defeat to Central Connecticut State on Wednesday night.
The Black Bears (2-5) are led by Wesley Myers, who is averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.
Andrew Fleming is scoring 10.7 points and pulling 5.4 rebounds per game for Maine, which is averaging 39 assists per battle, which is the same as Duke.
The Black Bears, who have dropped four of the last five games, were picked to finish dead last in the America East preseason poll and that prediction didn’t sit well with coach Bob Walsh.
“The truth is, it bothers me,” Walsh said. “It bothers our players. But that is a good thing.
“All Black Bear programs show up with something to prove when we play, with a pride and toughness that is evident.
“The great thing about competition is we get to play the games and the results speak for themselves.”