On the last day of the calendar year, Duke will take on the Elon Phoenix at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. The #7 ranked Blue Devils come in at 10-2 on the season and this one will be a home away from home for them. Elon comes in at 7-6 on the season and have won their last two in a row. The Phoenix have played against 2 quality opponents in (at the time) #21 ranked Colorado and the 8-3 Georgetown Hoyas. Here is a breakdown of their starting 5:

     In their last matchup against Florida Atlantic, their starting lineup looked as follows: senior Lucas Troutman (6-10 forward), senior Ryley Beaumont (6-7 forward), junior Austin Hamilton (5-10 guard), sophomore Tanner Samson (6-4 guard), and senior Sebastian Kotch (6-8 guard). This is not a typo, Kotch is considered a guard at 6-8, which will most likely mean that Rodney Hood will be matched up with him. The man to watch for in this one for Elon is Lucas Troutman as he is the leader in PPG with 15.5 and the leader in rebounds per game with 5.6. Sebastian Kotch is the next leader in points with 13.9 and Ryley Beaumont is second on the team in rebounds with 5.3 per contest. Point guard Austin Hamilton is the team’s leader in assists with only 3.5 per game and Kotch is right behind with 3.4 per game.

     Breaking down their last two wins, Elon was very efficient in one and then had to battle for their next win. Against the Central Pennsylvania College Knights, there was no contest as Elon won handily 126-78. Led by Sebastian Koch with 21 points in only 22 minutes, the Elon starters all scored in double figures except for Austin Hamilton who ended the game with 7 points and 5 assists. Beaumont had a very efficient game, scoring 19 points (9-12 from the field) and grabbing 10 rebounds (4 offensive). Kevin Blake and Christian Hairston scored in double figures coming off the bench also. Elon shot almost 59% from the field (51-87) while the Knights only shot about 36% including only 6-17 from behind the arc. Elon won the rebounding battle 61-35 and had 20 more assists than Central Penn. As in most games, if you win the rebounding category, you will win the game.

     FAU was a different story for Elon. Coming in at 3-9, FAU gave Elon all they could handle in the second half as they almost erased a 13-point halftime deficit. Elon was led by senior reserve Jack Isenbarger who had 18 points. Isenbarger and Koch (14 points) were the only two Phoenix to get into double figures. They shot a dismal 38.5% from the field, but shot well from 3 (40%) and connected on 19 of the their 23 free throws. The Elon defense held the Owls to a low enough percentage from the field (36.5%) and 18% from 3, so they pulled out a tough win.

     In their loss to Colorado, the opposite occurred. They were completely outplayed and the stats showed. I will not bore anybody with more statistics, but Duke cannot take this team lightly. They have played Elon in the past and have had success. They defeated Elon last season 76-54 in Cameron Indoor and two years prior they defeated Elon 98-72 in Cameron yet again. I do expect Duke to be able to win this one, but it won’t come easily. They need to contain Lucas Troutman, which means that the combination of Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston will be key down low. Point guard play is huge for Duke because as Quinn Cook goes, so do the Blue Devils and he has done a much better job lately of playing within himself. He hasn’t made the mistakes that he was making earlier on in the season such as taking an ill-advised 3 early in the shot clock. I would expect the individual matchups to look as follows:

     Cook-Hamilton, Thornton-Samson, Hood-Kotch, Parker-Beaumont, and Hairston-Troutman. It will be interesting to see if Coach K goes back to Dawkins starting for a second straight game after his 20-point effort against Eastern Michigan. I feel coach Krzyzewski will go with the size of Hood against Kotch and continue to emphasize defense, starting Thornton and Hairston at the 2 and 4 respectively. Also, I would like to wish everybody a happy New Year and we hope you continue to read here at BlueDevilsDigest.com in 2014. We appreciate the support and thank everybody for reading!