The bell has rung and the Blue Zone stock exchange is back in business. Each week The Blue Zone will look at whose stock is on the rise and whose stock has taken a hit from the week in the Duke basketball world.
Bull Market—Trending Up
- Rasheed Sulaimon: The second-year guard out of Houston has had more this his fair share of trouble this season. But after Monday's heroics against Virginia nobody is talking about when 'Sheed was glued to the bench against Michigan in December. The five-for-five line switches seemed to put Sulaimon in his element, where he could dominate the ball and create without Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood on the floor. Obviously the Blue Devils are best off when the trio meshes together, but it was reassuring to see Sulaimon take control of a game nonetheless. 'Sheed ended the night with a season-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting in just 24 minutes of action.
Amile Jefferson: Jefferson hasn't gotten the credit he's deserved this season. The long forward was touted as Duke's third guaranteed starter in the preseason—joining Parker and Hood. But Jefferson soon found himself on the bench behind senior Josh Hairston, and then saw his minutes even further slashed with the more Parker and Marshall Plumlee played minutes at the five. After Monday's performance, nobody should be underestimating the Blue Devils' 6-foot-9 sophomore. Jefferson racked up a career-high 15 rebounds and recorded his first collegiate double-double. Most impressively, in the last 24 seconds alone Jefferson tallied two rebounds, one offensive, one assist, one steal and the two free throws that iced the game. How's that for a show?
Matt Jones: More trending up from the Virginia game that may well serve as the turning point of Duke's season. Freshman Matt Jones has slid under the radar thanks to the play of fellow freshman Parker, but Jones has been arguably the team's best defender on the perimeter since day one. On Monday, Jones got the chance to ply his wares in the starting unit, replacing Sulaimon to give the Blue Devils some more balance in the lineup. Though Jones doesn't score a whole lot, he did get to the line with more frequency than any of his teammates, making six trips to the charity stripe. The offensive production is nice, but it is his defense that should keep him on the court the rest of the season.
- Semi Ojeleye: Oh Semi, what did you do? The freshman from Ottawa, Kan. walked onto campus with an impressive flat-top that made people take notice—that is, if you didn't already notice him by his 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame. But now, Semi has shaved his head, and it just isn't the same. Ojeleye has a nearly perfectly spherical head that just doesn't work with bald. He's not Gerald Henderson level of alien when shaved, but it's not a good look either. Semi, we're looking forward to next season when you're hair is back to the way it's supposed to be.
Quinn Cook: There were times this season that Quinn Cook looked like one of the best point guards in the NCAA due to his prolific scoring and effortless assisting. But now, Cook needs some serious recalibration on his shot. The junior guard has shot just 9-for-31—29.0 percent—from the field over his past three games. From beyond the arc things get even worse, as he's just 4-for-14, good for just 28.6 percent. On Monday, it seemed as if Cook's passing was off as well. His two assists were the lowest total since Duke's Sweet 16 game against Michigan State last season. Cook is the engine that makes this Blue Devil team run, and the sooner he gets back on track, the better the entire team is.
Notre Dame: Notre Dame looked really good against Duke. Guard Eric Atkins was in complete control of the game and big man Garrick Sherman and guard Pat Connaughton provided huge production. In three games since a signature win over the then-No. 7 Blue Devils, Notre Dame is 0-3, with losses at home to N.C. State and on the road at Georgia Tech and Maryland. The Irish knew they had an uphill climb after losing leading scorer and assist man Jerian Grant to academic issues, but this level of struggle after knocking off Duke is surprising nonetheless.
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