Less than a month ago I wrote a piece about a disappearing devil. I was highly critical if not over critical of Duke's long-range bomber Andre Dawkins. The Hampton Roads, Virginia native has had a roller coaster career at Duke, but has appeared to be nothing more than a streaky shooter most days.
That may be the case, but this sniper is on fire! Dawkins has now tallied double-digit points in three straight games, has bumped the ACC's best freshman (Austin Rivers) to the bench and is primed to help this team compete for the conference title.
Last night Duke welcomed Wake Forest to Cameron Indoor in what some saw as a possible trap game. In the win, Dawkins and the Devils controlled the game throughout, making sure they didn't overlook the average at best Deacs.
Sounds from the old school NBA Jam rang throughout the stadium as Dawkins was "On Fire!" As the Crazies chanted "Dre all day," Dawkins kept shooting and kept hitting. As he carried Duke by hitting seven threes in the first half, Duke pulled away, putting this one just out of reach.
Assisting Dawkins on the night of solid play was Ryan Kelly and Rivers as they both tallied 20 points. Kelly helped Dawkins in the first half as Rivers stepped up in the second half.
The re-emergance of Dawkins is much needed for Duke. While the team has only lost twice on the year and us undefeated in conference play, they have been without a true superstar or go-to guy on the season. Duke typically has an ace in the hole that can carry the team, but without one this team has had trouble finding an identity.
Finding an identity as a top-five team and a record of 16-2 is impressive, but don't forget—this is Duke.
The key takeaway from this game isn't that Dawkins had a good night, but that the shooters and Plumlees didn't put it all together. If this team is to make a strong push they need both to happen at the same time. Yes, Duke scored 91 last night, but they need an inside-outside threat. They need to be able to use the Plumlee family to both control the boards and allow the shooters to shoot.
Up next for Duke is a battle against the Tarheel Toppers of Florida State. No one thought this game would have any importance so soon, but after FSU's hot start in league play, this one has a little extra clout. After winning three straight, a win over Duke would all but put the 'Noles into March Madness.