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October 18, 2010

These dozen inside-outside duos deliver

Balance is a helpful proposition in all aspects of life, and it's especially necessary on the basketball court.

The following 12 duos provide their teams with the proper inside/outside balance.

There is one caveat to these listings, which are done alphabetically: The murky eligibility situations of freshmen Josh Selby at Kansas and Enes Kanter at Kentucky led to those teams not being listed. The Selby-Marcus Morris duo would have been a lock for this list, while the all-freshman combo of Kanter and Brandon Knight would've merited, at the least, serious consideration.

BAYLOR
The duo: G LaceDarius Dunn and F Perry Jones
Key stats: Dunn averaged 19.6 points. Jones is a freshman.
The buzz: Dunn has developed from a 3-point specialist into a more complete guard on one of the top teams in the Big 12. He was a full-time starter for the first time in his career last season and set career highs in scoring, 3-point shooting (41.9 percent) and assists (96). The 6-foot-11, 235-pound Jones, a top-10 prospect, will replace Ekpe Udoh; he's not as good a defender, but Jones has a far bigger upside offensively.
BUTLER
The duo: G Shelvin Mack and F Matt Howard
Key stats: Mack averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Howard averaged 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds.
The buzz: These two players should make sure Butler remains a top-25 team even without Gordon Hayward. Mack is a fearless performer who loves taking the big shot; he steps up his play in Butler's biggest games. Howard was the Horizon League player of the year in 2008-09 before slumping a bit last season. He's a tough interior player who has to cut down on his fouls.
DUKE
The duo: G Nolan Smith and F Kyle Singler
Key stats: Smith averaged 17.4 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds. Singler averaged 17.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
The buzz: The only question about this duo is whether it truly qualifies as an inside-outside duo since Singler spent so much time on the perimeter last season. Their qualifications are otherwise obvious. Singler is one of the nation's top returning players, and Smith's outstanding NCAA tournament performance showed his ability to deliver in the clutch.
GEORGIA
The duo: G Travis Leslie and F Trey Thompkins
Key stats: Leslie averaged 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. Thompkins averaged 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.
The buzz: This duo is the reason Georgia looks like it will be a factor in the SEC and a NCAA tournament contender. At 32.5 points, this was the most prolific scoring duo in the SEC. Thompkins and LSU's Tasmin Mitchell were the only SEC players in the top five in the league in both scoring and rebounding. Leslie is a big-time athlete who needs to work on his outside shot, but he can get to the rim - and jump over folks in his way - against anybody.
GONZAGA
The duo: G Steven Gray and F Elias Harris
Key stats: Gray averaged 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Harris averaged 14.9 points and 7.1 rebounds.
The buzz: Harris was one of the top freshmen to return to school for his sophomore year. He scored at least 20 points nine times last season and also had seven games with at least 10 rebounds. Gray's balanced game helped him rank third on the team in scoring, fourth in rebounding, second in assists and second in steals. The graduation of Matt Bouldin means Gray likely will take on a bigger offensive role this season.
ILLINOIS
The duo: G Demetri McCamey and C Mike Tisdale
Key stats: McCamey averaged 15.1 points and 7.1 assists. Tisdale averaged 11.9 points and 6.0 rebounds.
The buzz: This is more of an inside-outside trio, with F Mike Davis joining Tisdale inside. This also can be a frustrating duo to watch. McCamey set career-highs in scoring and assists (his 254 were second nationally), while Tisdale set career-highs in scoring and rebounding. Yet Illinois went 10-8 in the Big Ten and missed the NCAA tournament. More consistency is a must, and Tisdale also needs to work on becoming more forceful in the paint.
KANSAS STATE
The duo: G Jacob Pullen and F Curtis Kelly
Key stats: Pullen averaged 19.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Kelly averaged 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
The buzz: Pullen is the first Kansas State player named the Big 12 preseason player of the year. He set single-season school records for 3-point goals (110) and steals (67) last season while also leading the Wildcats in scoring. Kelly, the Big 12 sixth man of the year last season, led the team in field-goal percentage (.565), rebounds and blocks, and will take on a bigger role this season.
MICHIGAN STATE
The duo: G Kalin Lucas and F Draymond Green
Key stats: Lucas averaged 14.8 points and 4.0 assists. Green averaged 9.9 points and 7.7 rebounds.
The buzz: There may be a small question mark with this duo as Lucas returns from a torn Achilles that kept him out of the Sweet 16 and beyond. Green is a versatile 6-6 forward who averaged 3.0 assists in addition to his scoring and rebounding numbers. He has a high basketball IQ and always seems to make the needed play.
OHIO STATE
The duo: G William Buford and F Jared Sullinger
Key stats: Buford averaged 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Sullinger is a freshman.
The buzz: Evan Turner was so good in so many facets of the game, it's going to take a handful of players to replace him. Start with the Buford-Sullinger combo. Buford is ready to take the spotlight after finishing second on the team in scoring and rebounding. Meanwhile, Sullinger may be the best post prospect among the incoming freshmen. He is adept on both ends of the court and will provide the inside presence the Buckeyes were missing last season.
PURDUE
The duo: G E'Twaun Moore and F JaJuan Johnson
Key stats: Moore averaged 16.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Johnson averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
The buzz: Moore has led Purdue in scoring in each of the past three seasons and also plays solid defense. Johnson, one of the game's top big men, is an excellent shot blocker. With Robbie Hummel again lost to an injury, this duo needs to improve on its numbers across the board if the Boilermakers are to reach their potential.
SETON HALL
The duo: G Jeremy Hazell and F Herb Pope
Key stats: Hazell averaged 20.4 points. Pope averaged 11.5 points and 10.7 boards.
The buzz: The presence of Hazell and Pope - along with new coach Kevin Willard - gives Seton Hall optimism it will reach its first NCAA tournament since 2006. Hazell is a high-scoring guard, but he's not always judicious with his shot selection. Pope expects to return after a near-death experience when he collapsed during a summer workout.
VIRGINIA TECH
The duo: G Malcolm Delaney and C Jeff Allen
Key stats: Delaney averaged 20.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Allen averaged 12.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks.
The buzz: Delaney led the ACC in scoring and ranked sixth in assists last season. He has scored at least 20 points in 32 career games. Allen is the ACC's active career leader in rebounds (781), steals (191) and blocks (189). They will be counted on to get the Hokies into the NCAA tournament.
4 OTHERS TO WATCH
Northwestern
G Michael Thompson (14.2 ppg, 4.1 apg) and F John Shurna (18.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
Temple
G Juan Fernandez (12.6 ppg, 3.6 apg) and C Lavoy Allen (11.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg)
Villanova
G Corey Fisher (13.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) and F Antonio Pena (10.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
Washington State
G Klay Thompson (19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and F DeAngelo Casto (10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
4 LOW-MAJOR DUOS TO WATCH
Lipscomb
G Josh Slater (17.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 5.4 rpg) and F Adnan Hodzic (22.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg)
Morehead State
G Demonte Harper (11.0 ppg, 3.2 apg) and F Kenneth Faried (16.9 ppg, 13.0 rpg)
Penn
G Zack Rosen (17.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) and F Jack Eggleston (12.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
Quinnipiac
G James Johnson (12.1 ppg, 4.0 apg) and F Justin Rutty (15.3 ppg, 10.9 rpg)



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