Blue Devils battle Owls in non-coference fray

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Updated: 11/15/2013 11:02 am

Durham, NC (Sports Network) - The fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils return to the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium, as they play host to the Florida Atlantic Owls in non-conference action in Durham.

Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils squared off with the fifth-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in Tuesday night's Champion's Classic and lost a back-and-forth slugfest, 94-83. The team is now 1-1 on the young season and will put the nation's longest homecourt win streak against non-conference competition on the line in this game. With the season-opening win over Davidson, Duke has now won 102 straight non-ACC games in Durham.

Oddly enough, the last non-ACC coach to come into Cameron and leave with a victory was Mike Jarvis on Feb. 26, 2000 with St. John's. Jarvis will attempt to halt the lengthy streak with his Florida Atlantic squad. Like Duke, FAU has split its first two games, blowing out Ave Maria in the season opener (86-51), before dropping a heart-breaking decision to St. Francis-NY (59-57).

This marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams on the hardwood.

It looked like FAU would move to 2-0 on the season, as the Owls held a comfortable 40-29 lead in the second half. However, Florida Atlantic went cold shooting the ball, going scoreless for more than seven minutes and fell to St. Francis in the end by two points. The loss spoiled a career-performance by center Dragan Sekelja, who recorded his first career double-double with career-highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds. There was very little offensive support however, as Pablo Bertone was the next highest scorer on the team with nine points. Overall, FAU did itself in by shooting just .346 from the floor, including an ugly .125 from 3-point range (1-of-8).

While the offense has been a little inconsistent in the first two games for FAU, the defensive effort has been strong. After two games, the Owls are allowing just 55.0 ppg on .375 shooting, while holding a +11.0 rebounding margin. Jackson Trapp leads a trio of double-figure scorers after two games, with 13.0 ppg. Bertone is next at 12.5 ppg, while Sekelja comes in at 10.5 ppg.

It was a showdown between two of the top teams in the country, with the subplot of having two of the nation's premier freshman on the court as well. Neither Kansas' Andrew Wiggins nor Duke's Jabari Parker disappointed. Parker was magnificent in defeat, scoring a career-high 27 points, including 19 in the first half against the Jayhawks. Four other Blue Devils joined Parker in double figures. Amile Jefferson poured in 17 points, followed by Rasheed Sulaimon (13 pts), Rodney Hood (11 pts) and Quinn Cook (10 pts). Duke lost the game despite shooting 51.7 percent from the floor.

Scoring points is not going to be a problem for Duke this season, as the team is chock-full of playmakers. The Blue Devils are averaging a gaudy 97.0 ppg through two games, doing so on .607 shooting, including .513 from behind the arc (20-of-39). Parker's tenure in Durham will be short-lived if he continues to put up the kind of eye-popping numbers he has early on. The 6-foot-9 freshman has gone over 20 points in both games and is averaging 24.5 ppg on 60.7 percent shooting, a number bolstered by his 7-of-10 effort from behind the arc. The scoring pool is deep with Hood (16.5 ppg), Sulaimon (16.5 ppg), Cook (15.5 ppg) and Jefferson (13.5 ppg) all showing the ability to fill up the basket.

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