Grayson Allen has spent the past month going from the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year to something like the third-best player on his own team. Crazy as it sounds, that's the truth. And even if it says as much about Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson as it says about anything else, there's no denying the athletic guard hasn't looked like himself -- in part because of a lingering toe injury.
But Allen looked great Saturday against UNLV.
He finished with a career-high 34 points while Duke rolled to a 94-45 victory at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-5 junior was 12 of 16 from the field. He took five 3-pointers, made four and also did this ...
-- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 10, 2016
And, like I wrote earlier in the week after Duke's win over Florida, good luck to everybody else playing college basketball. Because the Blue Devils are starting to look scary. And they're still not even completely healthy yet.
Here are three takeaways from Duke's win:
1. Allen really was terrific
He was dunking hard, making shots and smiling big. Just looked great. And though Allen acknowledged in his postgame interview that his toe has been bothering him and still isn't perfect, he insisted it's feeling better. And now he has some real time off because Duke doesn't play again until Dec. 19. So when we next see Duke we could be watching a healthy Allen -- plus heralded freshman Harry Giles on the court for the first time in a college game. Sign me up for that. It would be fun to finally see.
2. Duke's most reliable players were great again, too
Like I said on the Eye on College Basketball podcast earlier this week, the most amazing thing about the Blue Devils is that everybody had them No. 1 in the preseason even though nobody assumed Jefferson and Kennard would be anything more than nice role players. As it is, they're both All-American candidates. And they were good again Saturday. Jefferson finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, which means he now has six double-doubles in 11 games. Meantime, Kennard got 16 points. He's now averaging a team-high 20.0 points per game.
3. The Blue Devils are the team to beat
Duke isn't ranked No. 1 because of that neutral-court loss to Kansas, and because they don't have a truly great win like, for instance, UCLA's truly great win at Kentucky. But my colleague Seth Davis said it on television Saturday, and I completely agree with him: Duke is the team to beat this season.
The Blue Devils' ceiling is higher than anybody else's.
And Mike Krzyzewski's team might end up actually being better than most ever even anticipated, if only because Kennard and Jefferson are each better than anybody could've reasonably anticipated. On that note, I'll take it a step further and say this: I'd pick Duke to win the national championship right now, at this point, even if you told me Giles will never play a minute. That's how talented and deep the Blue Devils seem to be, and they're experienced in enough of the right places so that they'll never rely as heavily on freshmen as often as Kentucky.
Bottom line, Villanova should be No. 1. And UCLA should be No. 2.
But Duke is the nation's best team.
Anybody with eyes can see it.