Seth Curry: Where Would the Duke Blue Devils Be Without Mr. Dependable?
Curry's latest heroics came on Thursday night, and really, there's no need to exaggerate here. He dropped 24 points on, not one, but two bummed legs in a 73-57 win for the third-ranked Blue Devils.
This was the second game without injured Ryan Kelly—out indefinitely with a foot injury—and as close to a must-win as mid-January games get after what happened on Saturday at N.C. State.
If there was any question about the significance, Mike Krzyzewski answered in what will be a gif coming to a screen near you. After a Mason Plumlee dunk that put Duke up 11 early in the second half, Krzyzewski raced onto the floor and gave Plumlee an awkward jump hug.
Coach K, leaping, throwing his arms around Plumlee's neck.
He probably should have been throwing his arms around Curry. If not for the wounded sharpshooter, the Blue Devils might have been in an uncomfortable position.
Early on, Duke came out cold and faced an 11-4 deficit six minutes in—a possible carryover from the loss to N.C. State. Curry got to bailing his team out midway through the first half, scoring nine of Duke's 12 points during a rough eight-minute span for the rest of his teammates.
That allowed the Blue Devils (16-1, 3-1 ACC) to run away with it during the stretch that led to K's hug—a 19-4 run to open the second half. Curry contributed eight points during the run, which effectively ended any hope of a Georgia Tech upset. An upset that would have been alarming (and embarrassing) for the Blue Devils.
The Yellow Jackets (10-6, 0-4) are not a good team, as evidenced by their conference record. And at this point, Duke may not be elite until Ryan returns.
We know Kelly is going to come back at some point. CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman reported on Thursday that could be as early to mid-February. What we don't know is whether Kelly's going to be the same.
Curry will probably never be the same this year. As in, he will never be healthy. His right shin injury is not going away. His left ankle injury, which he suffered on an awkward fall at N.C. State, could linger as well.
The Blue Devils are still solid and probably good enough to hover near the top of the ACC in the meantime.
A lot of the pressure is falling on Plumlee, who scored 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting, but he should not feel it too much so long as Curry is doing his thing. Curry has averaged 23 points in the two games without Kelly and upped his season average to 16.4 points per game. He's also shooting 42.4 percent from the arc after his 6-of-7 performance against Georgia Tech.
Curry's final shot was in one of the toughest spots in basketball. He had the ball late in the shot clock, stood about 25 feet from the basket without any other option but to try to bail his team out.
Curry, bummed legs and all, put the ball on the floor and hit a guarded, step-back 3-pointer.
Just another one to add to the legend.
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