Flawless February: Duke Blue Devils Cap Month with Rare Achievement

Justin McTeerCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2010

ATLANTA - JANUARY 09:  Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on January 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Since the Blue Devils last appeared in the Final Four in 2004, Duke has earned the reputation of being a team that fades down the stretch.

They looked like championship contenders early last season, playing their way up to a No. 1 national ranking after dismantling Maryland in late January.  But the Blue Devils struggled in February, losing three of their first four games in the month.

This season, however, has penned a different story for the No. 5 team in the nation, a rank that will certainly go up when the new polls come out.

After their 67-49 victory over Virginia, the Blue Devils head into March with the momentum of a perfect February, a rare accomplishment in college basketball.

To put things in perspective, this is only the second Duke team to go through February without a loss in the last decade. The 2005-06 Blue Devils also accomplished that feat.

After their embarrassing loss to Georgetown in late January, few would have predicted Duke to be so successful in one of the most grueling months of the season.

What factors have led to Duke's February success?

Truthfully, it's been a perfect storm of sorts for the Blue Devils.

Despite starting 1-4 in true road games, Duke has won four straight road games since.

Kyle Singler has played up to his preseason ACC Player of the Year expectations for the first time this season.

In February, Singler averaged 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game on 50 percent shooting from behind the arc.

Brian Zoubek has also been particularly impressive recently.

He has slowly matured into a reliable presence in the paint, something Duke has been without for several years. Zoubek averaged 8.6 rebounds per game in February, which is more than double his career average at Duke.

But, the Blue Devils' success in the last month has been more about their cohesive play as a team than the individual accomplishments of their players.

Duke has executed it's game plan on both ends of the court with impressive consistency (one of the benefits of starting three seniors and two juniors).

As a result, the Blue Devils have the highest offensive efficiency and the third highest defensive efficiency in the nation according to the Pomeroy ratings.

The Blue Devils are simply playing as well or better than any team in the nation right now.

After years of fizzling in February, the Blue Devils were flawless this time around.

Whether or not February perfection will turn into a deep run in March remains to be seen (that 2005-06 Duke team lost their first two March games and were upset in the Sweet 16).  

For the moment, Duke shows no signs of slumping or slowing down and the timing couldn't be better.


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