Duke has played 15 games with Ryan Kelly and 11 without him. Following an 88-56 win at Virginia Tech on Thursday, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils are now 8-3 with Kelly in street clothes.
Even though Kelly has been sidelined with a right foot injury since Jan. 9, and is still seen in a walking boot, Mike Krzyzewski is confident he’ll have his senior forward back soon.
“We’re more optimistic,” Krzyzewski said after Thursday’s win. “Again, no timetable, but it’s moving. It’s moving in the right direction. Now we believe we’re going to get him back.”
Coach K went on to tell reporters that the 6-foot-11 Kelly has already begun physical activities, but has yet to get involved in any basketball-related workouts besides shooting free throws. Duke has five regular season games remaining to plug Kelly back into the lineup. Before the injury suffered during the Jan. 8 win over Clemson, Kelly was averaging 13.4 points and was the second-leading rebounder with 5.4 per game.
In a lineup with Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, two candidates to be ACC Player of the Year, Kelly was arguably the most valuable player to Duke prior to his injury. He is a versatile defender and offensively adds another shooter on the perimeter, which in return opens up more for Plumlee down low.
Kelly had sustained an injury to the same foot in the latter part of last season, causing him to miss the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The Blue Devils lost two of the last three games that year without Kelly on the floor.
Duke is set to host Boston College on Sunday afternoon.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.