The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke men's basketball player of the week: Week 14

<p>Luke Kennard took over the game Saturday against Clemson with 15 straight Duke points and finished as the only Blue Devil in double figures with 25.</p>

Luke Kennard took over the game Saturday against Clemson with 15 straight Duke points and finished as the only Blue Devil in double figures with 25.

Luke Kennard

The statline:

Thursday vs. North Carolina: 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting with two 3-pointers, four rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes.

Saturday vs. Clemson: 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-8 beyond the arc, four rebounds and a steal in 36 minutes.

The good: With the rival Tar Heels in Durham Thursday night, it took a Blue Devil team effort to knock off the eighth-ranked visitors. Freshman Jayson Tatum and junior Grayson Allen combined with Kennard for 64 of Duke's 86 points as the Blue Devils drilled 13 of their 27 3-point attempts in the game. Although the sophomore's performance was not his flashiest, it was yet another steady showing for the Franklin, Ohio, native, who has posted double-figure points in all but one game this season.

Saturday, though, was one of the most memorable moments thus far in Kennard's second-year campaign. After Duke shut down the Tiger offense for the first 20 minutes, Clemson exploded with a 27-13 run to grab the lead at 45-44 midway through the second half. From there, the 6-foot-6 guard took over, scoring 15 straight Blue Devil points—including a pair of triples—that ignited the Cameron Indoor crowd and gave life to a Duke offense that scored just 64 points the entire afternoon. Kennard's performance saved the Blue Devils from yet another home loss against an ACC bottom-feeder, and he was able knock the ball out of bounds on the Tigers' final possession, preventing Clemson from getting an easy shot off as time expired.

The bad: There were very few negatives to take away from the past two games for Duke's leading scorer. Kennard was efficient from the field in both outings, but did miss a pair of free throws in the latter 20 minutes of Saturday's matchup, something he has done on just five other occasions this season despite going to the charity stripe nearly five times a game. Although the misses were likely a result of tired legs, having played North Carolina a little more than 36 hours earlier, the Blue Devils need Kennard to remain steady even on short rest as they will face quick turnarounds during the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

The bottom line:  There has been no Duke player more reliable than Kennard this season. The sophomore leads the Blue Devils in scoring at 20.0 points per game, and his 3-point efficiency as a second-year player—45.9 percent, if the season ended today—would have him fourth in program history. And with Duke headed to Charlottesville, Va., to take on the ACC's best defense this week, the Blue Devils will certainly need Kennard's offense to stay in top form.

Honorable mention: Grayson Allen was lights out from long range Thursday against the Tar Heels. The junior shot 7-of-12 from 3-point land and 9-of-15 from the field, the best Allen has looked since returning from a one-game suspension in early January. As Duke's primary ball-handler, the Jacksonville, Fla., native dished out eight assists in the two contests, but struggled to find his shooting touch Saturday afternoon. With Tatum and Frank Jackson rounding out the Blue Devils' offensive arsenal, Allen will play a pivotal role as both a scorer and distributor during the next month.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


Share and discuss “Duke men's basketball player of the week: Week 14 ” on social media.