The sophomore recorded 27 points after shooting 12 for 16 from the field, to go along with five rebounds, five assists and four steals. The 6-foot-1 guard has become the X-factor for the undefeated 15-0 Blue Devils despite being a team led by a trio of seniors.
His scoring outburst comes after Duke’s conference play opener, where Cook went 0-11 from the floor failing to pick up a point. Despite being scoreless, the guard still finished with 14 assists, three rebounds and only one turnover.
Cook is only getting better at taking care of the ball as he also only committed one turnover against the Tigers. After a respectable November where he had 41 assists and 23 turnovers in seven games, he tallied 51 assists while only committing 10 turnovers in the Blue Devils’ next eight contests. His ability to take excellent care of the ball has been a major reason why Duke remains unbeaten.
With the amount of fire power the team possesses, Cook’s playmaking ability is not getting enough credit for the way he’s been able to get his teammates involved. The trio of seniors in Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly have almost been rotating as to who delivers a dominating performance. The trio is certainly talented and capable of performing at a high level on their own. However, their scoring numbers are still being impacted by the way Cook has been able to routinely get everyone involved offensively.
Although the sophomore came into the contest against the Tigers ranked behind Lorenzo Brown as the conference’s leader in assists, he was ranked ahead of the cross-state rival in the ACC Top 15 Players rankings. Cook has done a far better job of taking care of the basketball while displaying his playmaking abilities than Brown has at this point in the season. The two guards share similar stat lines with Cook now averaging 11.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 steals with 2.2 turnovers while Brown is producing 12.4 points, 6.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals along with 3.2 turnovers.
The guards will face off against each other on Jan. 12 to truly decide who the ACC’s best playmaker is.