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Luke Kennard poured in a career-high 35 points on just 16 shots from the field against Maine.

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Duke men's basketball player of the week: Week 4



Luke Kennard

The statline:

Tuesday vs. Michigan State: 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, six rebounds, one steal and one block in 40 minutes

Saturday vs. Maine: A career-high 35 points on 11-for-16 shooting including 4-for-9 from beyond the arc, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 34 minutes

The good: After Kennard's strong freshman season was overshadowed by Grayson Allen’s most dominant year as a Blue Devil and fellow freshman Brandon Ingram’s journey to a No. 2 overall NBA Draft selection, all eyes are on Kennard following his torrid start to the year. The team’s leading scorer at 19.4 points per game, Kennard has provided the consistency Duke needs in a 2016 campaign marred by early injuries. The sophomore has played at least 29 minutes in every game this year and delivered his best week of the season with a 20-point effort against Michigan State and a career-high 35 points against Maine. With Allen out against the Black Bears, Kennard served as the team’s primary scoring threat, helping the Blue Devils match their second-highest scoring total of the season.

Everything seems to be going well for Kennard this season, and one thing stands out as most impressive—his accuracy. Currently shooting 50.0 percent from the field—a nearly eight percent improvement from last season—Kennard has the fourth highest field-goal percentage in the nation among guards who have taken at least 120 shots. If the Franklin, Ohio, native can maintain his scoring streak, Duke will be a formidable opponent for any team after freshmen Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden work their way into the rotation and Harry Giles returns to the floor.

The bad: For all Kennard’s accuracy from the field, his success from beyond the arc has been inconsistent at best. Before shooting 4-for-9 against Maine Saturday, the sophomore was in the midst of a 3-for-20 drought from beyond the arc. After shooting just 32.0 percent from deep last season, Kennard has improved to 37.0 percent this year. With the Blue Devils currently 146th in the nation in 3-point percentage, both Kennard and Grayson Allen will carry a heavy burden to ensure that teams remain wary when Duke shoots from long range.

The bottom line: Not only has Kennard cemented himself as a consistent member of Duke’s starting five, he has also established himself as an invaluable asset and centerpiece of the team. If he can remain healthy, the sophomore will feature prominently down the stretch, providing the ability to score at any given moment.

Honorable mention: Before breaking his foot last season, Amile Jefferson was on pace to record his best season in a Duke uniform, averaging 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game through the season’s first nine games. It appears that the graduate student came back to finish what he started at the beginning of last season. 

Currently averaging 14.7 points and 9.8 boards per game, the Philadelphia native recorded yet another solid week for the Blue Devils. After a tremendous double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds propelled an injury-riddled Duke team to a 78-69 win against Michigan State, Jefferson added 20 points and nine rebounds in the victory against Maine. Earlier concerns about Jefferson’s ball security continue to subside after another solid week protecting the rock— Jefferson turned the ball over just three times in the two games despite playing for almost 70 minutes. 


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