College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, December 29, 2010
After freshman sensation Kyrie Irving went down with a potential season-ending injury a few weeks back, the college basketball community began to re-evaluate the Duke Blue Devils, some even believing that the reigning national champs might come back to earth a little with their star guard on the mend.
It's still a bit early to tell, but the Blue Devils still appear to be the team to beat. In four games since Irving's injury - suffered late in Duke's win over Butler - the Blue Devils have dispatched their overmatched opponents by an average of 43.5 points, including Wednesday's 108-62 pounding of NC-Greensboro.
Proving they still have plenty of firepower, the Blue Devils were led by two seniors, forward Kyle Singler, who poured in a game-high 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and Nolan Smith, who threw down a season-high 26 points, hitting 8-of-12 from the field, including 3 of 4 three-pointers, while gathering in 6 rebounds and distributing 9 assists.
Duke moved to 12-0, remaining atop the college hoops rankings, and putting coach Mike Krzyzewski aline in second place with his 780th career win, one more than North Carolina's Dean Smith and closing fast on Bobby Knight's record 802 wins.
Fans and upcoming opponents may get a better feel for just how good the Blue Devils really are when they begin ACC play next week, starting with home games against Miami (FL) on January 2nd and Maryland, January 9th. In between, Duke hosts UAB, a non-conference foe, December 5th.