Shut down defense was not the major point of discussion after the first half, though, for the Blue Devils. Senior forward Ryan Kelly injured his foot during the first half of the game and was forced to sit the entire second half. Kelly injured the same foot that forced him to sit out the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament last season. He is expected to have a CAT scan and x-ray today to get further details on the extent the injury.
A major question and concern the Blue Devils have this year is their depth. Last season, Kelly’s injury killed the Blue Devils and this season it could do the same. There is no guarantee Kelly is going to miss any games because of the injury, but if he does, Duke is not the best team in the country anymore. They face arguably their most difficult conference game on Saturday when they head on the road to No. 20 North Carolina State. With the results of Kelly’s tests today, Duke may be forced to change of their gameplan significantly.
The Blue Devils forward averages 13.4 points per game and 5.4 rebounds, but he causes matchup problems as well. Kelly is a 6’11” forward who can consistently make outside shots. He forces the other teams big man to come out and guard him which opens up the lane for the Duke guards and Mason Plumlee.
If Kelly was unable to play, freshman Amile Jefferson will see a lot more playing time in Kelly’s spot. Also forward Josh Hairston will get more time on the floor, but he is extremely undersized for a big man. Together, Jefferson and Hairston combine to play 20 minutes a game which is 8 less minutes than Kelly plays.
The lack of depth specifically in the frontcourt can become a major impact for Duke if Kelly in fact is out for any amount of games.