Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The sixth-ranked Duke Blue Devils will attempt to extend their winning streak to four games on Sunday, as they welcome the Vermont Catamounts to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Vermont, a 21-win team a season ago, has not gotten the new campaign off to a great start, as its only win in five tries came at home over Siena on Nov. 12, 77-66. Since that victory, the Catamounts have dropped three in a row, all on the road, with their most recent setback coming at Wagner on Thursday, 68-61.
In a national showcase game with Kansas in the Champions Classic on Nov. 12, Duke fell on the wrong end of a 94-83 final, but other than that tough defeat it has had a stellar showing in the early going with a 4-1 record. The Blue Devils have claimed victories over Florida Atlantic (97-64), UNC Asheville (91-55) and East Carolina (83-74) during its current homestand, and they have the nation's longest-active home winning streak over non-conference opponents at 105.
The Blue Devils and Catamounts met twice back in the 1970s, with the former coming away victorious each time.
Although the Catamounts managed to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit in their latest contest to take a one-point lead over Wagner with 5:21 to play, they again lost control of the game down stretch, getting outscored 13-5 the rest of the way en route to the setback. They shot less than 39 percent from the field, and they were especially poor from 3-point range where they missed all 12 attempts. Clancy Rugg was impressive in the frontcourt with 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, Hector Harold netted 11 points off the bench and Candon Rusin added 10 points.
On the season, Vermont has underperformed in all phases of the game, as it sports negative margins in scoring (-10.0), rebounding (-2.2) and turnovers (-1.0). Rugg is one of the few reliable playmakers in the lineup with 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, although he has committed 15 turnovers. Sandro Carissimo scores 10.6 points per game, but has been cold from beyond the arc (6-of-22).
The Blue Devils' clash with ECU at home late last week was much closer than they would have hoped, but despite the narrow nine-point victory, they were in complete control for the most part as they led by as many as 18 and never trailed. Rodney Hood had a career-best performance in the victory, as he was practically flawless (8-of-10 from the field, 12-of-12 from the foul line) on his way to 30 points. Freshman sensation Jabari Parker continued his world- class start to the season with 21 points, nine rebounds and six blocks, while Quinn Cook tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Duke has scored points at will during the first five games, as its 93.0 points per tilt ranks ninth-best in the nation, while its lofty field goal percentage (.561) is fourth. Parker (22.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg) is shooting 55.6 percent from the floor, including a lights-out 13-of-20 from 3-point range, and he is just the second player in school history to score at least 20 in five straight games to start a campaign. Hood (21.8 ppg) is also off to an outstanding start, and Cook (12.6 ppg) has handed out 35 assists while committing only seven turnovers. Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and Andre Dawkins are also integral parts of the rotation, as each averages between 8.0 and 9.2 points per game.