With Ryan Kelly Out and N.C. State Up Next, Duke Could Be Handed Their First Loss

By Brian Swanson
Jim O’Connor – USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Kelly will not be able to help Duke this Saturday Jan. 12 when they take on N.C. State. Kelly will be out indefinitely due to an injury to his right foot, the same right foot that he had surgery on last March and kept him out of action during the end of last season. There isn’t anything broken in the foot, but he has re-aggravated the previous injury.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski feels bad for Kelly stating that Kelly has been playing the best basketball of his career. He also said, “We’re hoping for a good recovery and we are optimistic about his return.”

Krzyzewski sounds hopeful, but of course he is going to display optimism, it’s in his nature not to seem worried, especially when speaking with the media. In reality it looks like Kelly will be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, which means the undefeated Blue Devils will be vulnerable during this stretch. We know that he will be out against N.C. State, but in theory he could also miss games against Georgia Tech on Jan. 17, Miami on Jan. 23, and Maryland on Jan. 26.

Duke could lose this Saturday against a tough N.C. State squad. Without a full post Duke will struggle against big men Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. Mason Plumlee has been one of the best players in college basketball this year, but he will have his hands full with the scrappy, and strong, Howell.

Coach K will be forced to play freshman Amile Jefferson for extended minutes at the four. Jefferson is only 195 pounds at 6’8”, and isn’t ready to be productive at this level. He will be embarrassed against an experienced Wolfpack front-court. Also N.C. State has great options with T.J. Warren, Lorenzo Brown, Rodney Purvis, Scott Wood, Leslie, and Howell. It might be a semi-close game, but the Wolfpack will hand Duke their first loss of the year.

Duke will be able to beat Georgia Tech, and Miami who is without big man Reggie Johnson. However, they will have a tough battle against a rising Maryland team if Kelly isn’t back in the rotation. Duke’s early season perfection will come to an end, and their major flaw, a lack of depth, will be exposed.

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