Over the next three weeks, The Blue Zone will be counting down the top five performances from each of Duke’s graduating seniors during their collegiate careers. This week, we start with forward Ryan Kelly.
No. 5: Kelly registers a career-high against the Hurricanes
Ryan Kelly returned from his foot injury to score a career-high 36 points against Miami. (Chronicle Photo Illustration by Nicole Savage)
The date: March 2, 2013
Kelly statline: In his first game back from injury, Kelly poured in 36 points in 32 minutes on the court, shooting 10-of-14 from the field, including 7-of-9 from behind the arc, and 9-of-12 from the free throw line. The senior also grabbed seven rebounds.
The breakdown: After losing at Miami in late January and watching the Hurricanes’ home crowd storm the court, Blue Devil fans placed a special significance on March’s game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Not only did the rematch provide a chance for revenge against ACC-leader Miami, but Duke fans would also witness Kelly’s return after a 13-game hiatus due to a right foot injury.
With some speculation about whether or not Kelly would play, the Blue Devils faithful were on edge on game day; ready to see the forward back in action. When the senior come out onto the court to warmup rather than heading to the bench with a boot on his foot, the Cameron Crazies erupted.
And the White Raven did not fail to impress.
Kelly lined up for his first shot, a three-pointer, just 25 seconds into the game. 9,314 fans held their breath as the ball soared towards the basket and—missed. The senior forward would only fail to connect on two shots from the field the rest of the game.
Kelly’s next attempt, again a three-pointer, came 2 minutes and 26 seconds into the half. Once again, the crowd held its breath as the ball went up and—nothing but net.
With chants of ‘Ryan Kelly’ and ‘White Raven’ resounding throughout Cameron, the senior proceeded to put on a clinic for the rest of the opening period, pouring in 19 points in the first half. Kelly knocked down open threes, shots with defenders plastered all over him and buckets in the paint, confounding an athletic Miami defense that could not find an answer for the forward.
Despite Kelly’s monster first half, Duke trailed by two heading into the locker room.
The start of the second period went much like the first—Kelly remained relatively quiet for the first ten minutes as both teams traded baskets back an forth but failed to build any significant leads.
The last roughly 10 minutes of the game, much like the second half of the opening period, turned into the White Raven’s show. Kelly scored 12 points over the time span, and also picked up two steals in the final four minutes, to carry the Blue Devils to victory in one of the most exciting games played in Cameron over the past decade.
The quote: “We were all privileged to see one of the performances of the ages, I think, by Ryan Kelly,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “[It was] probably as good of a performance as any Duke player has had at Cameron.”
Previous Kelly performances:
No. 5: Kelly scores 20 points against Wake Forest
No. 4: Maui Invitational Tournament
No. 3: Charity Stripe Clinic
No. 2: Kelly drops 22 against Wake Forest