The “Kyrie Irving Effect” isn’t the only resemblance between this year’s Duke team and the one from 2010-11.
The two share a similar streak to start the season.
Duke has scored at least 70 points in each game this year. In 2010-11, the Blue Devils scored 70 points or more through the first 15 games of the season – one marred by Irving’s foot injury. He missed 25 straight games as a freshman that season, going on to become the No. 1 NBA draft pick in 2011. Duke freshman forward Harry Giles, a No. 1 overall contender this year, has yet to play a game for Duke. Giles hasn’t played basketball in more than a year. Irving played 11 games and was injured after eight.
Even without Giles in the rotation, Duke (10-1) can extend the streak with the offensive weapons it already has. Sophomore guard Luke Kennard, who was supposed to come off the bench, leads the team in scoring with 20 a game. Kennard is one of the most improved scorers in the ACC with an 8.2-point bump.
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Freshman Jayson Tatum is settling into the offense, comfortably finding that smooth jumper he likes, among other things. And junior guard Grayson Allen is on his way back to 100 percent, scoring a career-high 34 points just a day after his first practice in five weeks. He was nursing a foot injury (something about foot injuries this season is a bit unsettling for those looking back to 2010-11).
At any rate, the Blue Devils have two nonconference games left before facing Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on New Year’s Eve. Duke on Monday hosts Tennessee State, which took N.C. State to overtime Saturday and nearly upset the Wolfpack, and goes on the road for Elon.
“Our team is like a toolbox,” grad student forward Amile Jefferson said following Duke’s win over Florida on Dec. 6. “You never know what tool you’re going to need or what tool’s going to be the one that works that game. Today it was the hammer or the screwdriver or whatever you want to call these guys. Next game, it’ll be something else, it’ll be someone else. It’ll be Frank (Jackson). It’ll be Grayson. It’ll be Matt (Jones). It’ll be Marques (Bolden).”
Duke would have to get 70-plus against its two remaining non-league opponents, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to match its 15-game streak from 2010, and then Boston College to beat its own record.
As of Thursday, the Hokies have allowed 79.8 points a game, Georgia Tech is giving up 68.2 and Boston College – just for fun – is hitting 70 on the mark in scoring defense.
In Duke’s last game, a 94-45 victory over UNLV at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the Blue Devils shot 70 percent in the second half. They attributed it to good ball movement, as Duke has dished 14.5 assists per game.
After Duke beat Florida 84-74 at Madison Square Garden, coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team was really efficient. It was the second game for Tatum and fellow freshman Marques Bolden.
“We’re starting to put it together a little bit,” Krzyzewski said.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan