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Duke men's basketball Player of the Week: NCAA Tournament First/Second Round



Brandon Ingram

The statline:

Thursday vs. UNC Wilmington: 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in 39 minutes.

Saturday vs. Yale: 25 points on 7-of-19 shooting, five rebounds, two assists and one steal in 40 minutes.

The good: Although Ingram is making his first trip to the tournament, he hasn't been fazed by the national spotlight. The ACC Freshman of the Year entered the NCAA Tournament averaging 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest and in the first two rounds of the Big Dance, he displayed the huge impact he can have on both ends of the court. 

In Thursday’s 93-85 come-from-behind victory against the Seahawks, the Kinston, N.C., native didn't hoist bad shots and instead showcased his ability to work for good shots both in the paint and on the perimeter. Perhaps his biggest shot was a crucial triple from the top of the key to trim UNC Wilmington's lead to 43-40 just before halftime and give his team momentum heading into the second half. 

Two days later, the freshman again came up big for the Blue Devils by carrying his team down the stretch after the Bulldogs trimmed a 27-point deficit to just three. Ingram scored 14 second-half points and contributed defensively by making life difficult with his size and length at the top of Duke's 1-3-1 zone defense. Although the Blue Devils allowed Yale to shoot 42 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes of play, Duke clamped down in crunch-time thanks to the defense of Ingram. 

The bad: Ingram had a strong two-game stretch for a player making his first appearance in the tournament. The forward's only struggle at times in Providence, R.I., was nailing free-throws as Ingram  missed three of four free throws in a 30 second span against the Seahawks that allowed UNC Wilmington to stay within striking distance. After committing five turnovers against Notre Dame in the ACC tournament, the freshman took better care of the ball and gave it away only once this week. 

The bottom line: The Blue Devils will battle the Oregon in Anaheim, Calif., looking to make their 21st Elite Eight appearance. To succeed, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzwewski’s squad will need Ingram’s hot shooting and versatility to be on full display. The forward has scored in double-digits in all but five games this year and notched at least 15 points in 10 of his team's last 12 games. Ingram's performance on the defensive end of the court will also be crucial against the Ducks as his 7-foot-3 wingspan at the top of the zone is capable of disrupting Oregon's guards and making life easier for his Blue Devil teammates. 

The honorable mention: Sophomore guard Grayson Allen averaged 21.8 points per game—often carrying Duke when it needed a bucket—and last week was no exception. Against the Seahawks, Jacksonville, Fla., native registered 23 points—with 15 of them coming from the charity stripe, setting a Blue Devil record for most made free throws in a tournament game. Matched up against the Bulldogs just two days later, Allen splashed four first-half triples en route to 22 points. Although he didn't shoot as well in the second half, the sophomore managed to finish the contest with a game-high 29 points and brought home another win for Duke. 


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