Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Rockets ready for ultimate test in Duke

DURHAM, N.C. - If you want to find out just where you stand in the pecking order of college basketball, you can start at the top and work your way down to your niche.

Few would argue that Cameron Indoor Stadium, here on the campus of Duke University, is not a good place to start.

The University of Toledo gets to gauge its talents against Duke, No. 9 in the country this season but certainly the top program in the nation over the past decade or so. The Dookies do it right, especially at home.

UT coach Stan Joplin, fresh off his team's first win of the season Tuesday against Nevada, knows what the Rockets are getting into.

The rich tradition, the wealth of talent, the Cameron Crazies as the Duke fans are known, and matching wits with Mike Krzyzewski, one of the best in the business.

"It's going to be a huge challenge for us and we're probably going to have to play twice as well as we played against Nevada in order to win," Joplin said. "Coach Krzyzewski has done a lot of great things for college basketball and his record speaks for itself. It's going to be a tough game, and I just hope we don't get caught up in the moment."

To a man, the Rockets seem enamored with the opportunity.

"You always want to know how you'd do against the best, so why not play Duke?" junior guard Sammy Villegas said. "You hear about Duke all of the time and see their games on TV, so it will be a great experience to go there and play against them."

UT senior Keith Triplett, who scored 28 points in the win over Nevada, said he is anxious to see how the Rockets match up with the Blue Devils.

"It's Duke, and everybody wants to play the best," Triplett said. "We've got to go there and play good, play our game,

and see how we do. We can't think about it that it's Duke - we just have to play our game."

Duke is averaging 86.8 points per game and is outscoring its opponents by almost 30 points. Junior guard J.J. Redick, one of the most dangerous 3-point shooters in the nation, leads the Blue Devils with 21.8 points per game. Senior guard Daniel Ewing (19.6) and junior forward Shelden Williams (14.0 points., 10.2 rebounds) are Duke's other top offensive threats.

Krzyzewski, who was heavily courted by the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, will be going for his 700th win as a college head coach against the Rockets.

He is 626-181 at Duke (25th year), and 699-240 overall as a college head coach (30th year).

- Matt Markey

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