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Monday, March 4, 2013
How Kelly's return boosts Duke's D

By Ryan Feldman
ESPN Stats & Information

The Duke Blue Devils with Ryan Kelly are a much different team than they are without him.

Based on Kelly's 36 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-9 on 3-point attempts, in the Blue Devils' win over Miami, it's easy to assume the difference comes on offense.

There's no doubt Kelly's offensive efficiency and ability to stretch a defense helps Duke's offense. He has the highest offensive rating this season among Duke players. No Blue Devil in the past four seasons has had as high an offensive rating as Kelly has this season.

However, it's not on offense where Kelly has the most impact. Duke is a much different team defensively with Kelly in the lineup.

Duke ranked 25th in the country in defensive efficiency and 24th in opponent field goal percentage with Kelly entering Saturday. Without him, the Blue Devils ranked 197th in defensive efficiency and 306th in opponent field goal percentage.

Prior to the win over Miami, Kelly was holding opponents to 21.8 percent shooting this season as an on-ball defender, the fourth-lowest field-goal percentage in the country (minimum 100 plays). He held opponents to 0.52 points per play, which ranked sixth in the country.

Why is Kelly so effective on defense? He's a versatile defender who can successfully guard a variety of play types. Before the injury, he held opponents to 16.7 percent shooting on isolation plays. He didn't allow a single point defending pick-and-roll ball handlers and post-up plays, which accounted for 20 percent of his defensive plays.

Kelly once again made a significant impact defensively in the win over Miami. The Hurricanes shot 42.8 percent from the field with Kelly on the court and 50 percent with him off the court. Miami scored 1.00 points per possession with Kelly on the court and 1.12 points per possessions with him off the court.

Duke has the highest BPI in college basketball with Kelly and all of its top players. If the NCAA selection committee recognizes how much of a different team the Blue Devils are with Kelly, there's a great chance they'll be awarded a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.