Next up for Duke is Tulsa, a tough team out of the C-USA, led by 7-0 prospect Jerome Jordan and coached by former Matt Doherty assistant Doug Wojick.
Duke traditionally plays an out of conference opponent in February as tourney preparation, and in the last few years, the opponents have been the sort of team the Devils might reasonably expect in the first three games of the tournament: a tough, experienced mid-major (whatever the hell that means), a team with lots of upperclassmen and cohesion, the sort of team that can upset a Top Ten power.
A team like Tulsa, in a nutshell.
At 7-0 and 250, Jordan is the biggest player, literally and figuratively, but they also rely on seniors Glenn Andrews (6-2) and Ben Uzoh (6-3) and junior Justin Hurtt (6-4). Sophomore Steven Idlet (6-10) gives them a second big player.
Senior Bishop Wheatley (6-6), sophomore Joe Richard (6-7) and freshman Donte Medder (6-1) round out an eight-man rotation.
Of those, Uzoh and Jordan are clearly the stars. Uzoh is averaging 16.1 ppg and 4.4 apg, and Jordan puts up 15.2 and 8.6 rpg.
After John Calipari fled Memphis ahead of NCAA investigators, Tulsa was expected to be the best team in the C-USA. It hasn't quite worked out that way, at least to this point.
Tulsa is a middling 8-5 in the conference, and 19-8 overall, but they're coming off a three-game losing streak and Duke, at #5 nationally, is a significant obstacle.
But before the losing streak, experienced Tulsa was 19-5 and 8-2 and you can see why Duke picked them for this game. Certainly Wojick gets it and is appreciative. As he told the Tulsa World, " [this game]says a lot about our school. It says a lot about our national reputation. (The Blue Devils) have traditionally done this with a good mid-major type of team, and we're fortunate to be that team this year."
When asked about his team's pscyhe, Wojick said
"You haven't won (and) it seems like it's been forever, but I think they're in a good place. We've had good discussions."
Wojick has done well at Tulsa. After starting 11-17, he's posted records of 20-11, 25-14, and 25-11 and they can win 25 again if things go their way down the stretch.
By the way, many of you may remember Wojick from his stint as a Matt Doherty assistant (and so Cameron is nothing new to him). Older fans may recall that he was David Robinson's point guard at Annapolis and was a very, very good college player in his own right.
For Duke, it's nothing complicated: rebounding, defense, keeping track of Jordan, Uzoh, and keeping track of three point shooting. Hurtt is the one most likely to inflict perimeter pain.
It's also a chance to let Miles and Mason Plumlee and Andre Dawkins work their way back into things. As well as the starters have played, those three guys have a lot to offer, and are critical to Duke's stretch drive.
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