For most of the year, the Duke Blue Devils have shown the ability to produce offense through multiple outlets—a major factor in many of their wins.
Although Austin Rivers receives most of the attention and praise, the recent loss to rival school North Carolina shows just what the key to Duke's success may be this March. A silver lining in a rather embarrassing loss that Duke must learn from to succeed on the big stage.
This key to success lies in the hot shooting hands of two less prolific players—Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins.
Together this season, they account for 20.8 PPG and average .409% from behind the three point line. Against the Tar Heels, they were held to just two points while shooting 0-6 from three point range. The lack luster performance was clearly evident throughout the game, especially during the early 22-5 run the Blue Devils suffered. Will this provide the rest of the field with a clear blueprint on how to defeat Duke? I think so.
In key wins against Michigan State, Michigan, Kansas, North Carolina, and Florida State—the combination of Kelly and Dawkins averaged 30.4 PPG
In a lopsided loss to Ohio State, they went scoreless. This all but proves how much of an important factor their contributions really are to this team. Last November, Andre Dawkins erupted for 26 points against a very talented Spartans team leading Duke to a win. He showed the country why you cannot forget about him, as he shot over 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from deep.
Ryan Kelly has proven to be a reliable contributor, especially early in the season after winning the Maui Invitational MVP award—surprising Cameron crazies back home and all over the nation.
Clearly, Austin Rivers and Seth Curry have been the players targeted by opposing defenses. This leaves Duke with options, as Kelly and Dawkins should be able to find open space on the court.
Teams must consider this duo of dangerous shooters as a top priority if they wish to control Duke as North Carolina and Ohio State did—and on the other hand, Duke must find ways to get them involved. Numbers don't lie, and these two Blue Devils create very enticing numbers against some of the nation's top competition.