Don’t look now, Duke haters: Luke Kennard, Blue Devils coming on again

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 09: Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils battles for a loose ball against Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 9, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 09: Luke Kennard #5 of the Duke Blue Devils battles for a loose ball against Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 9, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Luke Kennard was only Duke’s second-leading scorer Thursday night as the Blue Devils beat North Carolina, and that is probably good news for the team and its fans.

While the Franklin High School star has been widely credited for keeping Duke afloat through the first three months of the season, the Blue Devils haven't looked like the dominant team they were expected to be because of injuries, a disciplinary issue and the absence of their coach.

But Grayson Allen — the subject of the aforementioned disciplinary issue — poured in 25 points against the Tar Heels while Jayson Tatum added 19 and Frank Jackson had 11.

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Kennard chipped in 20 in a team-high 36 minutes, and Duke improved to 19-5 overall and 7-4 in the ACC.

It might be too late for coach Mike Krzyzewski's team to reach the top of the conference standings, but CBS Sports' Gary Parrish is among those who think it is better positioned for a postseason run than it was earlier.

I know a lot of you gave up on Duke thanks to a prisoner-of-the-moment mentality. But it's not too late to reconsider and recognize that a team with nine McDonald's All-Americans can win a championship.

Given the outsized role talent usually plays in winning at the college level, it’s hard to argue with that logic.

Especially when a team has a hall of fame coach, has been through some adversity and can still rely on a player like Kennard when the going gets tough again.

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