Duke developed a pattern in recent years, either by design or circumstances, that often featured two players scoring points at a rate noticeably higher than everybody else on the team. One season it was Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram. Last season it was RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson.

But this season figures to be different.

Or, at least, it sure looked that way during Tuesday night's first game of the Champions Classic here inside Madison Square Garden, where No. 4 Duke overcame a nine-point deficit with fewer than 15 minutes remaining to beat No. 3 Kansas 68-66 and extend its winning streak in this high-profile event to three. In last year's Champions Classic, Barrett got 33 points while Williamson added 28 in what we quickly learned was a sign of things to come. But in this year's Champions Classic, no Duke player scored more than the 15 points Tre Jones contributed. Three other Duke players finished with at least 11.

"It could be a different leading scorer every night," Cassius Stanley suggested after he took six shots, made five and finished with 13 points in his college debut. "That's what makes us so good."

Yeah, that's another thing worth noting: Duke is good.


There were some who were skeptical the Blue Devils could operate at the top of the sport after losing four of the top five scorers from last season's team -- among them the No. 1 pick, No. 3 pick and No. 10 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. It's all relative, of course; Duke's issues are never as big as most programs' issues.