Duke men's basketball Player of the Week: Week 9

Luke Kennard

The statline: 

Wednesday at Clemson: 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, three assists, two rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes. 

Saturday vs. Notre Dame: 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting, eight rebounds, one assist and one steal in 37 minutes.

The good: The Blue Devils dropped two consecutive contests against ACC opponents for the second time in as many years, with a loss to the Tigers on the road and a loss to the Fighting Irish at home. Despite the two setbacks, one of the positive aspects of this week was freshman Luke Kennard’s standout scoring numbers. The freshman posted a career-high 30 points against the Fighting Irish, scoring eight consecutive points at one point in the second half to fire up the Crazies. Kennard—who finished the upset loss against the Fighting Irish with four triples has clearly found his shooting stroke after a slow start to the regular season. 

The bad: The Blue Devils did not take care of the ball this week, giving it away 23 times combined in their two losses. Kennard committed a team-high four turnovers against Notre Dame, including a poor pass with 4:49 remaining in the game. Foul trouble has also been a significant problem for the Blue Devils in ACC play and the freshman picked up four personal fouls Saturday, albeit many coming intentionally with the game clock winding down. 

The bottom line: Kennard has stepped up since the injury to senior Amile Jefferson spending time in and out of the starting lineup. The guard has become an important offensive weapon for head coach Mike Krzyzewski, scoring in double-digits in eight of Duke’s last nine contests. But the newcomer—who is averaging 12.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game this season—is having an impact on defense as well. Although the Blue Devils were outrebounded by the Fighting Irish 38-33, Kennard still managed to grab eight rebounds. With Duke heavily dependent on freshman Brandon Ingram and sophomore Grayson Allen for offense, Kennard has shown flashes of providing life on offense when needed. 

Honorable mention: Despite struggling with foul trouble and having to sit for considerable chunks in both games this week, forward Brandon Ingram totaled 41 points and hit seven threes in the two losses combined. The Kinston, N.C., native has averaged 16.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season and has scored in double-digits in 11 straight contests. Ingram will have to stay in front of opponents without fouling going forward if he wants to stay on the court and lead the Duke offense. 

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