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With Grayson Allen hampered by a lingering ankle injury, freshman Frank Jackson started in his place on Tuesday night.
Needless to say, Jackson took advantage.
Displaying the scoring prowess that helped him become a McDonald’s All-American in high school, Jackson led 17th-ranked Duke to a 75-70 victory over 15th-ranked Florida State. Thirteen of Jackson’s game-high 22 points came in the opening five minutes of the second half, helping the Blue Devils extend an 11-point halftime lead to 19.
What was especially impressive about Jackson’s scoring barrage is that he did it in multiple ways. Not only did he knock down a trio of 3-pointers, he also put pressure on the Florida State defense by attacking the rim off the dribble.
Jackson’s season-best scoring night helped elevate Duke into a fourth-place tie with Florida State in the ACC. A league title is out of reach for the former preseason No. 1 team, but the Blue Devils could still nab a double bye in the ACC tournament if they complete a season sweep of North Carolina on Saturday night in Chapel Hill.
Another big scoring night from Jackson against the Tar Heels could only help Duke’s chances. He isn’t the traditional pass-first point guard Duke’s otherwise loaded roster is missing, however, he’s still a dangerous weapon as a scorer capable of producing buckets in bunches.
Best-case scenario for Duke: Jackson serves as an ideal insurance policy in case Allen is still bothered by the ankle injury into March and a hot hand off the bench when the preseason All-American returns to full strength. Worst-case scenario for Duke: There’s only one basketball, and between Allen, Jackson, Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard, it’s a case of too many mouths to feed.
Regardless of how it turns out, Tuesday night provided a glimpse of Jackson’s lethal scoring prowess.
Sooner or later, he’s going to be an impact player for Duke.
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