The No. 3 Duke Blue Devils will close out the regular season Saturday with a short trip down Tobacco Road to face rival North Carolina. The last time these two teams met on Feb. 13, the Blue Devils were victorious even without senior Ryan Kelly, who was out due to an injured foot.
The Tar Heels might have a bigger problem this time around, now that Kelly has returned to action. In his first game back in almost two months, he scored 36 points in a 79-76 win over Miami, a team that had previously wiped the floor with Duke 90-63.
“I'd gotten about 20 minutes of practice the day before [the Miami game],” Kelly said on Courtside with Seth Davis. “I just kind of went into it and said ‘Give it all you got.'
"I got my first shot and missed it; wide-open shot, and I just said ‘I'm just going to shoot it with confidence.' Thank goodness the ball went in.”
If that's what Kelly can do with 20 minutes of practice after missing 13 games, imagine what he's capable of now. What's even scarier, at least for the Tar Heels and the rest of the ACC, is that Kelly is not even at 100 percent yet.
“I'm continuing to improve,” Kelly said. “I got a bunch of stuff in my shoe kind of locking down my foot, decrease the movement. Conditioning-wise I'm certainly not there yet. That will only come with time.”
It took Kelly a brief amount of time to get back to superstar status and the Blue Devils will look to keep Kelly's accelerated recovery going. Because time certainly isn't on the Blue Devils' -- or anyone's -- side, as the NCAA tournament tips off in less than two weeks.