Duke's Irving off on right foot as toe talk put to rest

by | CBSSports.com
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CHARLOTTE -- Let us speak no more of Kyrie Irving's toe. The mystery is gone. It's just an ordinary digit now. If there is a move Irving made before the injury that he can't make now, I don't know what it is.

So, shut down the website savekyriestoe.com. Call off the televised interview with his orthopedist.

Even at 75 percent, Kyrie's toe is capable of things mere mortal phalanges can only dream of. But this toe looks to be 100 percent. In an 87-45 walkover of the No. 16 Hampton Pirates, Irving played 20 minutes -- just one less than nominal starter Seth Curry -- and scored 14 points. Much of what Irving did was routine, but he did it all. He directed the offense, ran back on defense as fast as he ever has, and slid his feet in lateral movement without a wince.

There was not a hobble, hop, or limp.

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In fact, there was a leaping attempt at a shot block and an "ooooh" moment, when Irving broke down a perimeter defender and sliced to the hoop.

"He's a lottery pick," Hampton head coach Edward Joyner, Jr. said. "There wasn't a lot of tape on him, so we really couldn't prepare for him. To be able to do what he did in this atmosphere with so much time off says a lot about him."

If there is any lingering effect of the injury, suffered against fellow third-round attendees Butler on December 4, it will be a certain lack of wind and a rusty shot. The good news is, Duke knows Curry can play as many minutes per game as needed to get Irving back into shape. Honestly, the kid didn't look too winded during his half-game of work.

Irving looked good mentally, too. He didn't press or try to do too much. His shots came within the flow of the offense, and Irving was deadly efficient. His 4-of-8 shooting performance included 2-of-2 3-pointers. The heavily pro-Duke crowd erupted in cheers when Irving took the ball the length of the floor for a layup with 5:03 left in the second half. He did it again later, and got to the free throw line a couple of times, where he made all four shots he was awarded.

Asked about his ability to drive to the hoop without any ill effects, Irving said "That's my game, I wouldn't be out there if I couldn't do it."

He can most definitely do it.

The No. 1 Duke Blue Devils will take on No. 8 Michigan in the round of 32 on Sunday.

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