Inside one of college basketball's most storied arenas Friday, the winless Southern Jaguars and first-year coach Morris Scott will confront the esteemed Duke Blue Devils, the nation's top-ranked team with enough pizzazz to mop the floor against any team in the country.
Southern careens into Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, a 77-year-old stronghold on college basketball, for a 6 p.m. tipoff Friday against the country's top squad.
The Blue Devils are on another level. Behind a career-high 37 points from rugged 6-foot-5 senior guard Grayson Allen, Duke swiped an 88-81 win against No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday in Chicago in the State Farm Champions Classic — an annual early-season event that squares the nation's top teams against one another.
"Having a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country," Scott said, "I don't know if we've done that before here at Southern, played the No. 1 team in the country during the regular season."
"I like these kids a lot," said Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils' 36th-year, Hall of Fame coach after Tuesday's win. "I hope we can keep growing and stay healthy."
Duke is 3-0. Southern is 0-3.
Southern has lost three consecutive road games at Illinois, Marshall and Wednesday's 86-58 loss to Missouri State to begin this season.
Jared Sam, the Jaguars' star center, scored 20-plus points in Southern's first two games before an 8-point outing in 29 minutes on Wednesday. Still searching for rotation pieces alongside Sam, Scott used 14 players Wednesday.
Junior guard Eddie Reese, among those with substantial offensive contributions alongside Sam, scored in double figures in Southern's past two games.
Duke and Southern's meeting Friday will be their second in 11 years; the No. 1-seeded Blue Devils defeated No. 16 Southern 70-54 in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Southern will remain in Durham, North Carolina, after Friday's game and complete its season-opening, five-game road trip against North Carolina Central at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Friday's game at Duke will be televised on the ACC Network and streamed on ESPN3.