NCAA BK

Irving already playing like a veteran

Share This Story

Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. Check out his Yardbarker blog. MORE>>
 
   
 

DURHAM, N.C.

Kyrie Irving was sensational, scoring in every way imaginable – making shots from deep, slicing through defenders and attacking en route to 16 free throws attempts.

The Duke freshman’s 31-point performance against No. 6 Michigan State on Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium made the one eight days earlier against Kansas State appear mediocre.

"He’s not a freshman," Duke senior Nolan Smith said of his backcourt mate. "He plays like a veteran."

But the kid who is just seven games into his college career won’t just be the talk on Tobacco Road. He’ll be the topic of the nation now – just as John Wall was a year ago at Kentucky.

However, what is certain to get lost in the Irving Hype Machine is that Duke barely staved off No. 6 Michigan State, 84-79, on its home court – a place where the Blue Devils haven’t fallen short in a non-conference contest since Feb. 26, 2000.

"People were saying that Duke can’t be beaten," Michigan State senior point guard Kalin Lucas said. "But if we had played a little better and limited our turnovers, we win the game.”

Twenty Spartan turnovers that led to 28 Duke points.

BEAT THE EXPERT

Check out FOXSports.com college basketball writer Reid Forgrave's bracket and see how yours stacks up.

"Yeah, of course they are beatable,” Michigan State’s leader Draymond Green added following the loss. "They are a great team, but we want to see them again – and the next time it’ll be on a neutral court.”

There’s no disputing the mammoth effort of Irving, who in the seventh game of his career nearly broke J.J. Redick’s freshman scoring record of 34 points.

He’s just arguably the best point guard in the country, but maybe even the top player in the nation.

Former Duke star guard Jay Williams, who was the National Player of the Year in 2002, admits that the current Blue Devils floor leader is well ahead of the curve.

"He’s definitely further along than I was at the same stage,” Williams said after watching Irving dissect Michigan State’s defense. "He’s a PG (point guard) – and his basketball IQ is at a different level.”

Irving dominated any head-to-head matchup that some felt would materialize between he and Lucas.

But in his defense, the speedy Lucas isn’t at 100 percent.

Eight months after rupturing his Achilles and with just seven games under his belt, Lucas wore down after 36 minutes on Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He was tentative in the first half and still didn’t show the burst that made him one of the most effective point guards in the country prior to the injury last season.

"Kalin’s not there yet,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after the game.

"I’m not myself yet,” Lucas admitted. "It’s still going to take some time.”

nba best dunks

Hoop junkies

Get the goods on college hoops with Jeff Goodman's blog and get the recruiting scoop from Evan Daniels.

That’s not an excuse. That’s reality.

However, even when Lucas does get back to 100 percent, he’ll have his hands full with Irving.

However, even with Irving, this Blue Devils team is vulnerable.

They struggled against Marquette in Kansas City a little more than a week ago one night before appearing virtually unbeatable against a highly regarded Kansas State team.

Then they were unable to put away Michigan State.

There are weaknesses:

Transition defense.

Size and bulk down low.

This team isn’t running any table despite the fact the Blue Devils appear to have effectively hurdled their two most daunting tasks all season long: the road game against Kansas State in K.C. and now the one at home against a Michigan State team that entered the season ranked No. 2.

This team has a Big Three that’s unrivaled these days, but the question now is whether the two veterans can remain content with the fact that Irving has not just joined the duo – but may have already surpassed them.

Singler and Smith both maintain there is no jealousy with the new kid coming in and stealing the limelight, but Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and the rest of the staff will have to guard against human nature – which means his two seniors worrying about getting theirs and how it directly correlates to their NBA stock.

"That’s what happened to Kentucky and what hurt those guys last year,” Singler said. "Thinking about the NBA. I don’t think that will be a problem for us. We understand that any of us – Kyrie, Nolan or me – can go for 30 points in a game.”

"Kyle and I have both proven ourselves,” Smith said. "We’ve won and we’ve shown we can score. It’s all about us leading and winning.”

Duke has won – seven straight games to begin the season – and now everyone is talking how Irving looks the part of an All-American, maybe even the National Player of the Year and the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA Draft.

What needs to be said is that this Duke team still has some work to do.

Tagged: Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, Nolan Smith, Kalin Lucas, Kyrie Irving

More Stories From Jeff Goodman

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..