Duke basketball sophomore getting back into ACC Player of Year debate

Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt is playing his way back into the ACC Player of the Year conversation. 

Duke basketball sophomore forward Matthew Hurt appeared to be the leader for the ACC Player of the Year at one point in the season, but a recent poor-game stretch quieted the noise around the Blue Devil star.

Hurt struggled against the North Carolina Tar Heels two weeks ago, posting just seven points in 21 minutes while battling foul trouble for the duration in the middle game of what was Duke’s second three-game losing streak of the season.

However, the Rochester, Minnesota native has responded soundly after two straight games where he didn’t post eye-popping numbers in Blue Devil losses.

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In a victory over North Carolina State, Hurt went for 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting, 6-of-7 from three-point range, in addition to three rebounds, a block, and two steals.

The 6-foot-9 forward followed the effort with another dazzling performance against Wake Forest with 22 points, four rebounds, two assists, and a steal on 8-for-9 shooting, 3-of-4 from three-point range.

That’s a combined 46 points on 84.2-percent shooting (16-of-19) from the field and 81.8-percent shooting (9-of-11) from three-point range over his last two games.

Matthew Hurt is averaging 18.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game on 55.8-percent shooting from the floor and 45.5-percent from three-point range as a sophomore, all career-highs, which certainly should land him as the ACC’s Most Improved Player.

Duke basketball forward’s biggest competition

It seems as if the ACC Player of the Year Award is a three-player race between Louisville’s Carlik Jones, Pittsburgh’s Justin Champagnie, and Duke’s Matthew Hurt.

Jones is averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game while Champagnie, the likely frontrunner for the award, is posting 18.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per contest.

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None of the teams listed are currently inside the Top-3 of the conference’s regular-season standings with plenty of basketball still to be played.

Matthew Hurt has the chance to really make a name for himself in the ACC Player of the Year race on Saturday night as the No. 7 Virginia Cavaliers enter Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The matchup could also go a long way in determining if the Blue Devils have a chance at earning an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

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