Grayson Allen scored all 21 of his points against Appalachian State in the first half, shooting 6-of-9 ...

Duke men's basketball player of the week: Week 3

Grayson Allen

The statline:

Wednesday vs. William & Mary: 17 points on 4-for-11 shooting including 3-for-8 from behind the arc, five rebounds and six assists in 29 minutes

Saturday vs. Appalachian State: 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting including 4-for-6 from behind the arc, four rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes

The good: Expectations ran high for the junior after he opted to return for a third season. Especially considering the injuries to three of Duke's top freshmen—Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden—Allen was expected to lead the Blue Devils through the season’s beginning stages. Entering the week, however, the Jacksonville, Fla., native was shooting just 34.4 percent from the field and a dismal 22.9 percent from beyond the arc. The preseason ACC Player of the Year found his stroke this week against William & Mary and Appalachian State, just in time for the team’s second big matchup of the season—Tuesday’s tilt against No. 24 Michigan State.    

With the freshmen still sidelined, head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s guard-heavy lineup needed to compensate for its lack of points in the paint with precise perimeter shooting. Despite his early struggles, Allen managed to shoot 50 percent from both the floor and beyond the arc this week, leading the Blue Devils to comfortable wins at home. The junior captain poured in all 21 of his points against the Mountaineers in the first half Saturday, sending Duke to its highest first-half point total of the season.

The bad: Allen appeared to be swiftly rounding into form until he hobbled in pain toward the bench in the second half of Saturday’s game. He appeared to injure his right toe while going up for a rebound—the same leg that has bothered him throughout the season. If injuries begin to pile up, it would be difficult for Allen to maintain consistent form and play at the level expected of him as the freshmen recover.    

The bottom line: Allen’s status for Tuesday’s matchup with Michigan State is still unknown. It would be unfortunate for the Blue Devils to see the junior on the bench for the team’s second top-25 matchup, especially after posting his best week of the season.

Honorable Mention: Graduate student Amile Jefferson has been a strong presence down low throughout the season, coming up big for Duke as it waits for Giles and Bolden to return. The Philadelphia native posted two 15-point games this week on 11-for-16 shooting. The team’s leading rebounder at 9.4 per game, Jefferson added to his totals with 16 rebounds during the two games in addition to only three turnovers, a welcoming sign after coughing up seven in the loss to Kansas.

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