FAST BREAK

The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL -

SPOT­LIGHT

Luke Ken­nard

Guard, Duke

When the Blue Devils get to wear their gear around cam­pus again, it will be thanks to the 6-foot-6 sopho­more.

With Duke ap­pear­ing ready to spi­ral to its fourth loss in five games, Ken­nard scored 34 points in an 85-83 win at Wake For­est, in­clud­ing the game-win­ning three­p­ointer with 6.6 sec­onds to play. Ken­nard scored 11 of his points af­ter Duke fell be­hind 81-71 with 3:50 to play.

STOCK UP

The Mis­souri Val­ley Con­fer­ence’s days of crack­ing the RPI code are gone — heck, the Rat­ings Per­cent­age In­dex it­self ap­pears on the way out — but it is still pro­duc­ing NCAA tour­na­ment at­large can­di­dates, and it’s not just Wi­chita State. Illi­nois State opened just 4-3 and has bad losses to Mur­ray State, Tulsa and San Fran­cisco, but has since won 10 in a row to move to 174, in­clud­ing 9-0 in the MVC for the first time since 1983. The key is a smoth­er­ing de­fense that ranks in the na­tion’s top 12 in ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive field goal per­cent­age, ac­cord­ing to KenPom.com. The Red­birds’ at-large hopes could rest with next Saturday’s re­match at Wi­chita State (18-4), which they beat, 76-62, on Jan. 14.

STOCK DOWN

Coach Richard Pitino’s bumpy ten­ure at Min­nesota fi­nally seemed to smooth out with a 15-2 start to his fourth sea­son. Now hopes for his first NCAA tour­na­ment berth are in jeop­ardy with the Go­phers’ fifth con­sec­u­tive loss. They have no truly bad losses, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of a 52-50 de­feat at Penn State, and only one by more than eight points. But their up­com­ing games against Illi­nois, Iowa and Rut­gers have be­come win-or-else.

CHUCK BUR­TON/AP

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