Grayson Allen scored eight straight points to bring Duke back within three, but the Blue Devil rally ...

Duke men's basketball Player of the Week: Week 17

Grayson Allen

The statline:

Tuesday vs. Wake Forest: 30 points on 7-of-16 shooting, five rebounds, five steals and one assist in 37 minutes.

Saturday vs. No. 8 North Carolina: 29 points on 11-of-28 shooting, four rebounds, five assists, two steals in 40 minutes.

The good: After averaging 21.5 points per contest—the second-best mark in the conference—sophomore Grayson Allen received first-team All-ACC honors Sunday. The guard notched a game-high 30 points in his team's 79-71 victory against Wake Forest, with his 14-of-19 performance from the charity stripe leading the way for Duke. The sophomore posted six of the last eight Blue Devil points in the game and also contributed defensively with a career-high five steals. 

Despite Allen’s 29 points against the Tar Heels Saturday, the Blue Devils’ attempt to orchestrate a huge comeback fell short and the team dropped a 76-72 decision. The Jacksonville, Fla., native canned six triples, including a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining that Duke trimmed North Carolina’s lead to 70-67. Ultimately, the sophomore looked back to his usual aggressive self in games this week after struggling last weekend against Pittsburgh. 

The bad: Allen did not do a bad job in really any aspect of the game this weekend, but could have iced the contest against the Demon Deacons earlier if he had not missed four shots from the free-throw line in the final 63 seconds of the game. Against the Tar Heels, the sophomore struggled with efficiency as he shot just 11-of-28 from the floor and had a crucial turnover with his team tied at 49 and threatening to take their first lead of the game. The guard also did not make his presence felt on the glass—Duke's biggest weakness—and combined for just nine rebounds in this week's two games. 

The bottom line: Allen has emerged as the leader of the short-handed Blue Devils on both ends of the court and is playing at an All-American level. The guard has delivered at least 14 points in all but two of Duke’s games this season and at least 22 points in eight of the team's last 12 contests. With Amile Jefferson ruled out for the rest of the season, Allen's role as a leader on the team will only grow in postseason play. The Blue Devils will need the guard’s fighting spirit and sharp shooting to be on full display if they hope to make a deep run in the conference tournament and in the Big Dance.

The honorable mention: Although rookie guard Brandon Ingram received ACC Freshman of the Year accolades Sunday, it was one of his classmates who stole the spotlight this week—especially against North Carolina. In his second game in the Tobacco Road rivalry, guard Luke Kennard made his mark and helped his team stay within striking distance. The Franklin, Ohio, native came off the bench and knocked down four 3-pointers to finish the game with 20 points. With 13 seconds left to play, Kennard notched his final triple of the evening to make it a two-point game but senior guard Marcus Paige’s four free-throws in the waning seconds cemented the Tar Heel victory. 

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