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Duke lead by nation’s highest-scoring trio

Jon Scheyer has blossomed into the ACC’s second-leading scorer this year
Jon Scheyer has blossomed into the ACC’s second-leading scorer this year

DURHAM — With shoulders slowly sliding down the back of his chair, Duke’s Jon Scheyer sounded almost embarrassed when answering a question on where he spent most of his time off the basketball court.

“Sleep,” the senior point guard said, cracking a smile.

Scheyer then paused to think what he would add to that proclamation, but ended up only justifying his one-word summary.

“You know, lay around. I don’t go out much.” Scheyer said sheepishly, careful to elongate every word. “It’s really exciting.”

That relaxed version of Scheyer doesn’t match up with the beast ACC observers know best — the one who grimaces on a drive to the basket, slaps his hands on the floor on key defensive possessions and lets loose a loud scream during an emotional high.

But while Scheyer is able to balance his on-court aggression with a sedentary personality off it, the offense he runs has yet to mimic the feng shui of its floor general.

Scheyer, guard Nolan Smith and forward Kyle Singler provide nearly all of the offensive firepower for Duke, combining for nearly 55 points per game — the highest total of any three teammates in the country.

No one else on Duke scores more than seven points per game.

“The way we have to set up our team is that those three guys have to be put in prominent positions to score,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “If you have a team that has more balance, then you go to it. But this team has those three guys.”

In addition to being the team’s leading scorer at 18.9 points per game, good enough for second-best in the ACC, Scheyer doubles as the Blue Devils’ leading distributor.

During his first full season as Duke’s primary ball handler, he sports the conference’s best assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.1 and has averaged 5.6 assists.

Smith also has flourished since moving off the ball to shooting guard. He boosted his scoring average by just a shade under 10 points this season to 18.1 thanks to more freedom to roam without the ball on the perimeter.

“All three of us work on scoring off each other and getting great looks,” Smith said. “We’re at the point where we’re so comfortable out there that scoring sometimes comes easily.”

Smith and Scheyer’s success have relegated Singler, this year’s preseason ACC Player of the Year, to the third-leading scorer on his own team. But with a team-leading 311 attempts, he’s still Duke’s first option on offense.

The trio does most of its work from behind the arc, where it has been devastating to opponents. The three have shot a combined 39 percent on 352 attempts from three.

“You can’t stop them from getting their shots,” UNC forward Will Graves said. “You just try to cut down their percentage down, scream at them while they’re shooting.”

Graves might want to hold off on that last part. On the court, Scheyer and Co. won’t be afraid to shout back.



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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