3-point shot: Injury bug bites Duke

1. This had the potential of being a disastrous injury week to potential championship teams in Florida, Duke, Missouri and Louisville. But by Thursday morning, Duke is the one team that could be the most affected. Florida’s Erik Murphy returned after missing one game (Yale) with a fractured rib and scored 11 points in a blowout win over Georgia. Missouri got great news that Laurence Bowers only has an MCL sprain instead of an injury requiring surgery. Bowers has been the most consistent player for the Tigers. Louisville beat Seton Hall without Chane Behanan, sidelined for nearly two weeks with a high ankle sprain. But once again there is an anticipation of a return. Duke, however, listed Ryan Kelly as being out indefinitely with a foot injury. He is in a boot and will be reevaluated. No surgery is being discussed publicly -- but this sounds similar to two seasons ago, when there was no word on the extent of Kyrie Irving’s toe injury or on his return. Duke needs Kelly to be a title team.

2. Quick thoughts from Wednesday night revealed: The Mountain West will be the most competitive top-to-bottom conference (see: New Mexico over UNLV; Boise State over Wyoming); Virginia can’t be trusted to be a tourney team (see loss to Wake); Saint Joe’s was a fraudulent Atlantic 10 preseason favorite (Butler beat the Hawks at home); Maryland’s post-Kentucky non-conference schedule was soft (see: Florida State winning in College Park); Ole Miss has a stud in Marshall Henderson (32 points in a win at Tennessee); Murray State isn’t going to rule the Ohio Valley (lost to Eastern Kentucky at home).

3. Creighton’s Doug McDermott has swallowed up all the oxygen in the Missouri Valley Conference and with good reason. But there is another player in the conference who needs to get his due. Wichita State junior Cleanthony Early has been on quite a tear. He scored 39 points in a comeback victory over Southern Illinois on Wednesday. He scored 24 in a road win at Bradley. The 6-foot-8 junior has been quite a find for Gregg Marshall. Late Wednesday, Marshall said he hasn’t had a forward with this type of skill set in his career. The Shockers are off to a 15-1 start, 4-0 in the Valley with two showdown games against Creighton to come on Jan. 19 at home and March 2 on the road.