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Zion Show in full swing for Blue Devils

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After dropping a 360-degree dunk Saturday against Clemson that resonated around the sports world for three straight days, all Blue Devils freshman Zion Williamson did was follow that up with a career-high 30 points on just 16 shots in No. 1 Duke’s 87-65 victory Tuesday at Wake Forest. 

Williamson quieted the doubters of his 3-point shot, myself included, by connecting on three of his four attempts against the Demon Deacons. That perimeter range makes him that much more difficult to guard. Williamson was named ACC Rookie of the Week honors after the Clemson game, an 87-68 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and moved his scoring average up over 20 points a game.

DYNAMIC DUO

Williamson and fellow freshman RJ Barrett  are the leading scorers in the Atlantic Coast Conference. With Barrett at 22.8 points per game and Williamson at 20.9 points per game, the two Blue Devils are considered to be among the top players in the country. On Wednesday, they were recognized as such by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which named the freshmen to the its Midseason Top 25 list for the John R. Wooden Award. The two freshmen phenoms make Duke the only major conference team with two players each averaging 20 points per game.

BIG GAMES AHEAD

Duke shook off rust in its first game back in over two weeks on Saturday, turning a seven-point halftime lead into a 21-point rout of Clemson. That win allowed the Blue Devils to maintain their No. 1 ranking heading into the week, which sets up a Top 15 matchup with 13th-ranked Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee, Florida. If Duke can come away with the win there, it will host No. 4 Virginia, which is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, on Saturday, Jan. 19, in a nationally televised game at 6 p.m.

Duke has started 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since the 2015-16 season saw the team open with two blowout wins over Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. But that year Duke lost three consecutive games following the 2-0 start and this team is looking to start 3-0 in the league for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

ELITE-LEVEL DEFENSE

The second-most efficient defensive team in the country seems to be getting even more stingy on the other side of the court with each coming game. The Blue Devils have increased their already national best blocks per game average to an astounding 8.21 blocks per game, nearly two more blocks per night than No. 2 Auburn (6.23). But Duke is also able to turn teams over by playing the passing lanes and putting pressure on opposing ballhanders. They currently rank second in the country in steals per game with 11.29 per night, which has helped the team overcome poor shooting nights.

DELAURIER SETS RECORD

Junior Javin DeLaurier, Duke’s starting center for the last five games, has now made 19 consecutive shots over the last six games going back to the start of the Hartford game Dec. 5. That is a record for most consecutive shots made by a player under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and is just one field goal shy of tying the ACC record of 20 held by Duke’s Alaa Abdelnaby in 1988-89.

FOOTBALL STAFF UPDATE

Duke football head coach David Cutcliffe will be looking for a new wide receivers coach for the second year in a row as Gerad Parker was hired by Penn State away from the Blue Devils on Thursday. The position group will undergo the most change of any on the Duke roster this offseason, as all three starters will graduate this May.

Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.

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