Duke men's basketball Player of the Week: Week 3

Luke Kennard

The statline: Wednesday vs. Yale: 12 points on 2-of-8 shooting, two rebounds, one assist and three steals in 23 minutes. Sunday vs. Utah State: 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting, one rebound, one assist and one steal in 26 minutes.

The good: Freshman Luke Kennard averaged 6.4 points in his first five games wearing a Blue Devil uniform but this week the 6-foot-5 guard broke through and scored in double digits coming off the bench twice. The Franklin, Ohio, native registered 12 points in Duke’s 80-61 rout against Yale Wednesday and a career-high 22 points Sunday, when head coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s squad blitzed Utah State 85-52. 

Against the Bulldogs, Kennard was perfect from the charity stripe, making all six of his attempts. He added a pair of triples and made big plays on defense with three steals. Four days later, the newcomer scored eight consecutive points in a three-minute span, extending the Blue Devil lead to 26-16 in the first half against the Aggies. Kennard also improved his shooting from beyond the arc Sunday and knocked down four of his five attempts from distance. 

The bad: Against the Aggies, Kennard committed a team-high four turnovers—his first four of the season. Although none of them helped Utah State make things more interesting, Kennard and his teammates need to take care of the ball better as competition stiffens. Despite his reputation as sharpshooter in high school, the freshman from Ohio has struggled at times with the speed of the college game, though Sunday's performance was a step in the right direction. 

The bottom line: The freshman guard started the season slow and his scoring numbers decreased drastically from what he was accustomed to in high school. Kennard score only four points combined in early season matchups against then-No. 2 Kentucky and Virginia Commonwealth. But if the guard continues to deliver solid performances like this week, he will be one of the main weapons of Duke’s offensive attack going forward this season.

Honorable mention: Senior forward Amile Jefferson was close to registering two double-doubles this week as he scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds against Yale and notched 13 points and added nine rebounds against Utah State. The Philadelphia native—who has scored in double-digits in three of Duke’s seven games—also made an impact defensively as his long wingspan helped the Blue Devils play an effective 1-3-1 zone.

This post was updated at 3:55 p.m. to include that Kennard's four turnovers Sunday were his first of the season.

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