Duke gets good injury news ahead of top-5 clash with Virginia

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Duke guard <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/284606/" data-ylk="slk:Tre Jones">Tre Jones</a> (sitting) will return soon, while fellow freshman <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaab/players/147097/" data-ylk="slk:Cam Reddish">Cam Reddish</a> will be ready to suit up Saturday against No. 4 Virginia. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke guard Tre Jones (sitting) will return soon, while fellow freshman Cam Reddish will be ready to suit up Saturday against No. 4 Virginia. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

While they don’t carry the same name recognition as teammates Zion Williamson or even RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones are crucial to the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils’ chances. That much was clear on Monday when the team fell to unranked Syracuse without either player for much of the game.

But ahead of Saturday’s showdown against the No. 4 Virginia Cavalierswhat could be college basketball’s game of the year – the Blue Devils will get some reinforcements back. According to a report from The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil, Reddish will suit up on Saturday, while Jones could join him shortly thereafter.

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Reddish, who was the No. 3 overall recruit in this year’s class, missed his first game of the year on Monday due to flu-like symptoms. He is third on the team with 13.3 points per game and is among their top 3-point threats. Reddish played the hero last Saturday against the Florida State Seminoles, when he hit a game-winning three with 0.8 seconds left on the clock.

Jones, meanwhile, left Monday’s game early after six minutes when he had a nasty collision with Syracuse’s Frank Howard and favored his shoulder. There was fear he had an AC sprain or broken collarbone, but X-rays revealed only a grade 1 sprain. Now there’s even a small chance he will be ready to play against Virginia.

“I don’t know if it’s for this game or the next game, but it’s not going to be long term, where it’s a month or something,” Krzyzewski told Dana O’Neil of The Athletic.  “He’s going to be back.”

Jones, who was the No. 14 recruit in the class, has arguably been more important at times than Reddish. As a pure point guard, the offense can often run through him – he averages a team high 5.7 assists per game – while Reddish’s skills can be redundant next to his fellow freshman forwards. If Jones misses extensive time, that could spell trouble for an offense that was outscored by 13 after his exit.

Duke continues to avoid injury scares

One game before the loss to Syracuse, Duke suffered another injury scare when Williamson, the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, was accidentally poked in the eye by Florida State’s Trent Forrest at the close of the first half.

Although Williamson did not return to the game because of double vision, he returned two days later against Syracuse and scored a career-best 35 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field and 10-of-14 shooting from the line.

With Duke so reliant on their four freshman stars – the highest-scoring upperclassman is Jack White at 6.3 ppg – the Blue Devils can hardly afford major injuries. Having everyone healthy for March Madness is the top priority, but with enough small injuries, it may be hard to hang onto a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

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