Don’t want to speculate on Ryan Kelly‘s New Year’s resolution, but it may just be the offensive catalyst for Duke basketball. Typically resolutions are abandoned well before Valentine’s Day, but if this is the case, hopefully the senior captain can continue his offensive success.
Duke (14-0) have relied on the offensive production of Kelly in two January wins over Davidson and Wake Forest, in an ACC opening victory on Saturday. In a win against Davidson on Wednesday, Kelly led all Blue Devils scorers with 18 points, as a second half surge put Duke past the in-state foe. On Saturday, it was more of the same. Kelly connected on a pair of first half transition 3-pointers against Wake Forest, en route to a 22 point performance in a 80-62 play to begin conference play.
“It’s just the nature of the game, and it might be how they defend me — I don’t know — but I got open looks, and my guys got me the ball,” Kelly said following the Wake Forest win on Saturday.
In 2013, Kelly has become a third scorer that can torch opponents, who key in on National Player of the Year candidate, Mason Plumlee and sharpshooter, Seth Curry.
“I think Ryan has the ability to score 20 points against anybody,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Saturday. “I do think that when you’re trying to take Mason and Seth out of the game, that it opens it up a little bit more for Ryan, and that’s why Rasheed scoring and Quinn scoring will be big and have been big so far, but will be bigger as we go forward because people will try to take different things away from us.”
“He stepped up and he just had the openings and knocked them down,” added Coach K. “He was on his way to a 35-point or 40-point game, really, because we would have kept calling his number.”
Kelly is in the midst of a hot shooting streak. In wins against in-state foes, Davidson and Wake Forest, the 6-foot-11 senior is shooting 11-of-27 from the field and 8-of-11 from behind the arc.
When players focus on Plumlee, Kelly has been the answer, especially in the Davidson win, when the Cougars made it difficult for Plumlee to score and Curry struggled with his shot.
The hot streak for Kelly hopes to continue against Clemson on Tuesday at home.
Terrence Payne is the interim editor for Devils in Durham. Follow him on Twitter@terrence_payne