UAB BLAZERS (10-2)
at DUKE BLUE DEVILS (13-0)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Duke -18, Total: 140.5
Right now there are more streaks on the Duke Blue Devils résumé than a newly polished coffee table. There is the longest winning streak in the nation, presently at 23 games stretching over two seasons. There is the 27-game general win streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium and also the 49-game winning streak against unranked teams. The Blue Devils also have a winning streak of 84 consecutive games versus non-conference opponents on its home court. America hasn’t seen this much streaking since the 70’s. Odds.
Enter into this storyline the Blazers from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, coached by former Indiana head coach Mike Davis. UAB does not have much of a history with Duke, they are winless against the Blue Devils in two outings all-time, but if point guard Aaron Johnson’s attitude is any indication, they seem to have the right mentality for the task at hand. “We just have to come out focused and ready,” Johnson said. “We just got to make sure we get up at Cameron. We shouldn’t let the crowd and us playing Duke affect our emotions.” Somehow I think the last 84 opponents that came into Cameron started off with a similar approach. One thing that is for sure, win or lose, UAB plans on going out true to their name, in a Blazer of glory.
Not only are the Blue Devils looking forward to extending its streaks (plural), they are also looking forward to seeing history being made. Senior Kyle Singler is just five points shy of becoming the 11th Duke player to go over 2,000 points for his career. To do that, Singler hopes to have a much better shooting night than the 14-point, 5-for-15 performance he generated in Duke’s 74-63 victory over Miami on Sunday. Since Kyrie Irving went down with a foot injury on December 4, all eyes have been on Nolan Smith’s ability to man the point and fill the shoes of the best freshman guard in the nation. In the five games since the Irving injury, Smith is averaging 20.0 PPG, 6.6 APG and 5.2 RPG. Additionally Smith is shooting 40.8% from beyond the arc and 53.9% from the field this season, an amazing number for a guard who spends most of his time triggering his offense away from the basket. The Irving injury has also triggered more playing time for another weapon, guard Andre Dawkins, whose shooting numbers (12.2 PPG, 57.1 FG%, .53.9 three-point FG%) are even more eye-popping than Smith’s.
The Blazers are hoping that a prolonged holiday layoff since its last game, a 79-44 victory over George Washington on December 27, has provided them ample time to prepare for playing the No. 1 team in the nation. They are led by senior guard Jamarr Sanders (17.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG) and junior forward Cameron Moore (17.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG) who has hit a mini-slump in his season. Moore is averaging 9.3 PPG and shooting under 38% over his past three games, a stark contrast to the 19.7 PPG, 60.5 FG% clip he played at for the first nine games. Point guard Aaron Johnson (10.1 PPG, 8.3 APG) leads the team in assists. A victory would be more than just a fifth straight win this season, it would also be the second triumph in school history over the top-ranked team in the country, as well as arguably the biggest regular-season win in UAB history.
UAB is a perfect 5-0 ATS on the road this season and 9-2 ATS in all lined games, while Duke is just 2-3 ATS in its past five home games including two straight ATS defeats. This FoxSheets trend thinks UAB will keep it close and cover on Wednesday. Scores.
UAB is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) when playing against a top-level team (Win Pct. > 80%) over the last 2 seasons. The average score was UAB 64.3, OPPONENT 56.5 – (Rating = 1*).
This FoxSheets trend also sides with the Under.
UAB is 15-3 UNDER (83.3%, +11.7 Units) after allowing 65 points or less 2 straight games over the last 2 seasons. The average score was UAB 68.0, OPPONENT 58.2 – (Rating = 3*).