Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

The Blue Devils are one win away from one of the most improbable tournament runs in program history after rallying from a 13-point deficit to beat top-seeded North Carolina 93-83. A game-changing 29-9 run pushed Duke over the top, with big contributions off the bench from Grayson Allen and Harry Giles.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Match up with Hicks: The Blue Devils struggled to contain Hicks, especially in the first half, when he converted on four of his seven attempts from the field. Although Duke was able to pull out the victory, Hicks had an impact for North Carolina, scoring 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting and a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe in the loss.
  • Control the Tempo: The game was all North Carolina in the first half, when it outscored the Blue Devils 49-42. The Tar Heels were getting their way in the paint as well, with everyone finding their way to easy shots at the rim. However, Duke was able to control the pace in the second half, with Grayson Allen driving and dishing out to the 3-point line on the majority of his five assists. The Blue Devils were able to convert on many of those and take the lead late in the game.
  • Get hot from long range: Since the Blue Devils were heavily outmanned down low, it was especially important that they got hot from three. Duke did exactly that against North Carolina, converting 10 of its 17 attempts from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils got a spark early on from Allen, who got hot after nailing his first four shots from deep in the contest. He would hit one more triple in the second half en route to a sizzling 5-for-6 night from beyond the arc.

Three key stats:

  • Duke shoots 33-of-37 from the free-throw line: After struggling to get to the line late in the season, the Blue Devils were on the attack Friday and made the most of their shots at the stripe. Sophomore Luke Kennard was outstanding from the line, as he made all 10 of his attempts, freshman Jayson Tatum was perfect on his seven attempts and fellow freshman Harry Giles, a 45.5 percent shooter on the season, converted two attempts late in the game to ice the victory.
  • Grayson Allen shoots 5-of-6 from 3-point range: After shooting just 29.7 percent from beyond the arc since his 7-of-12 performance from deep against North Carolina at home Feb. 9, Allen returned to his form that earned him preseason national player of the year recognition. The junior was excellent, converting five of his six attempts from deep, which ignited the Blue Devil offense and kept them in the game in the first half.
  • Kennedy Meeks shoots 7-of-9 with 15 points in the first half: The Blue Devils really struggled to contain the senior big man in the first half. Meeks found his way around the Duke defense and was able to convert six of his first seven shots, all from point-blank range. He led the Tar Heel offense early on and helped them get out to their 61-48 lead in the second half, which would quickly evaporate.

Three key plays: Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Notre Dame

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. Notre Dame

After overcoming a double-digit deficit for the second straight game against a top-10 team, the Blue Devils will face off against the Fighting Irish in the ACC championship game Saturday. Notre Dame knocked off top-25 sides Virginia and Florida State to advance to the finals, and Duke will look defeat the Fighting Irish for the second time this season after a 10-point victory Jan. 30 in South Bend, Ind.

Duke: Forward Harry Giles

If Duke hopes to accomplish four wins in four consecutive games—a feat yet to be accomplished in ACC tournament history—head coach Mike Krzyzewski's team will need Harry Giles to contribute meaningful minutes again. In the semifinal matchup against rival North Carolina, Giles was a major contributor in two critical stretches that allowed Duke to first close the gap, and then extend the lead. With Duke leading 75-70 late in the second half, Giles had a huge block and then ran the floor to slam home a lob from Grayson Allen and extend the Blue Devil lead to seven. Although he only scored six points, the freshman big man pulled down seven rebounds to go along with four blocks and a steal.

Duke plays a very short bench and is especially thin in the frontcourt. With Amile Jefferson’s need for rest for extended stretches and foul trouble concerns across the board, Giles will likely be thrown into the game for key periods once again. If he can follow up on arguably his best performance with a high motor and defensive intensity to show flashes of his high school brilliance, Giles could potentially be vital in leading the Blue Devils to their 20th ACC tournament title. Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

Duke somehow found a way to claw back from a 13-point deficit against top-seeded rival North Carolina in a 93-83 victory in the ACC tournament semifinals. The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Hank Tucker reacted to the Blue Devils' best performance of the season.

0:17—How Duke flipped a switch for the second straight game to overcome a double-digit deficit against a top-10 team

1:05—Why North Carolina point guard Joel Berry II's fourth foul changed the complexion of the game Read more »

Halftime: North Carolina 49, Duke 42

NEW YORK—Last week, Duke struggled to guard Isaiah Hicks in its loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

This time, the Tar Heels' other senior big man is causing all sorts of problems for the Blue Devils.

Kennedy Meeks is dominating Duke in the post and has 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting to propel North Carolina to a 49-42 halftime lead in the first ACC tournament semifinal Friday night at the Barclays Center. Meeks scored 10 of the Tar Heels' first 12 points, more than the eight points he scored all of last Saturday, and North Carolina has racked up 32 paint points and 15 assists to build a comfortable cushion.

Grayson Allen came off the bench for Duke and knocked down four 3-pointers to score 12 points, but the Blue Devils have received little production outside of Allen and Jayson Tatum, who leads the team with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Tatum scored nine points late in the half to pull his team back within seven thanks to a 7-1 spurt, and has picked up right where he left off Thursday against Louisville.  Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

Duke split with arch rival North Carolina during the season, and the two teams will get the chance to settle the score on a neutral site in Friday night's ACC tournament semifinals in New York. The No. 5 seed Blue Devils are playing the top-seeded Tar Heels in the postseason for the first time since 2011, when Duke won the ACC championship 81-67. Here are three keys to Friday's heavyweight battle.

Match up with Hicks

After a strained hamstring sidelined Isaiah Hicks for Duke's first matchup with North Carolina, the forward made up for lost time last Saturday on his Senior Night with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds. He had a lot more strength and experience than Blue Devil freshman Jayson Tatum in the post, and he capitalized on Duke's switches on screens whenever he had a guard matched up against him.

The Blue Devils cannot let Hicks get position near the basket early and often again, and when he does get the ball, they have to make it harder for him to score. That could mean more playing time for freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, who were both effective defensively during Duke's rally in Thursday's quarterfinals.

Control the tempo

The Tar Heels always play at a fast pace and push the ball up the floor almost every time they get possession, led by quick point guard Joel Berry II. They will also be fresher than the Blue Devils after enjoying a second-round bye Wednesday and cruising past Miami Thursday with only one starter needing to play more than 30 minutes. Read more »

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

X Factor: Duke men's basketball vs. North Carolina

Duke and North Carolina will face off against each other in the next chapter of their classic rivalry Friday, but it won't be in Durham or Chapel Hill or anywhere in the South. They are meeting in New York in the ACC tournament semifinals at the Barclays Center, with the Blue Devils playing for a chance at their first conference championship game appearance in three years. The Blue Zone takes a look at a player from each team who could be the difference-maker in the game:

Duke: Guard Grayson Allen

Allen always seems to thrive under the bright lights against the Tar Heels, averaging 22.8 points in four games against them in the last two years. The junior guard bounced back from his first scoreless game since his freshman year in the Blue Devils' ACC tournament opener against Clemson Wednesday with 18 critical points on 5-of-12 shooting off the bench to help Duke upset Louisville in a quarterfinal nail-biter. Read more »

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Louisville

Chronicle postgame: Duke men's basketball vs. Louisville

Duke is halfway to winning four games in four days and taking home the ACC championship after rallying from a 12-point deficit to beat Louisville 81-77, but its toughest test awaits Friday night. The Chronicle's Amrith Ramkumar and Hank Tucker reacted to Duke's dramatic victory in New York and previewed the Blue Devils' impending showdown with top-seeded North Carolina in the semifinals.

0:18—How Duke's big three of Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum helped the Blue Devils outlast Louisville in a back-and-forth game 

0:44—Why the Blue Devils' switch to a 2-3 zone helped spark them to a second-half comeback from a 12-point deficit Read more »

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Louisville

Beyond the arc: Duke men's basketball vs. Louisville

Despite being down by as many as 12 points in the second half, the No. 14 Blue Devils stormed into the semifinals of the ACC tournament Thursday afternoon at the Barclays Center with an 81-77 victory against No. 10 Louisville. In a back-and-forth affair, Duke capitalized on a late 15-3 run to level the score before pulling away in the last four minutes. The Blue Devils now face No. 6 North Carolina in the teams' third matchup of the season after the Tar Heels easily dispatched Miami 78-53 earlier Thursday.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Protect the paint: The Cardinals dominated down low throughout the entire contest, outscoring the Blue Devils 46-28 in the paint. Twenty-eight of Louisville’s 37 first-half points came around the basket, and it picked up right where it left off to start the second half and open up a lot, but Duke's switch to a zone defense closed up the paint for the Cardinals for the last 13 minutes. Louisville could not make up for the lack of offense elsewhere with its interior scoring limited, shooting a dreadful 4-of-21 from beyond the arc and 15-of-26 from the foul line, two stats which overshadowed Duke’s inability to defend inside.
  • Feed Frank the ball: Despite averaging more than 18 points during the last four games, Frank Jackson was uncharacteristically off, shooting just 2-of-6 from the field. A 64.3 percent three-point shooter during that stretch, the freshman managed just one triple on three attempts. In addition, the Alpine, Utah, native missed four of his seven free throws, performing far worse than his 77.5 percent season average. Jackson’s modest performance did not cost the Blue Devils, though, thanks to the resurgence of junior Grayson Allen.
  • Get back the Grayson of old: Allen poured in 18 points Thursday afternoon, his highest point total since Feb. 9 against North Carolina. Although the junior only managed to go 5-for-12 from the field, two triples and several trips to the foul line bolstered his scoring total. Allen looked healthy and logged 28 minutes, the most he has played since a Feb. 22 contest at Syracuse—a reassuring sign if the Blue Devils hope to make a run in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

Three key stats:

  • Louisville shoots 15-for-26 from the foul line: Duke again ran into foul trouble—Jayson Tatum fouled out with less than a minute remaining, and four Blue Devils finished the game with three fouls. The Cardinals, however, were unable to capitalize on numerous trips to the charity stripe, shooting just 57.7 percent from the foul line. Luckily for Duke, Louisville also ran into foul trouble, gifting the Blue Devils 31 free throw attempts. Duke converted 22 of them.
  • Donovan Mitchell finishes with four fouls and eight points on 3-for-14 shooting: Thursday’s contest was arguably Mitchell’s worst performance of the season in a conference game. The first-team All-ACC selection racked up multiple fouls early in the first half and was forced spend more time on the bench than usual. The sophomore also shot just 21.4 percent from the field, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, very uncharacteristic from a 37.1 percent 3-point shooter on the season.
  • Tatum, Kennard, and Allen combine for 67 points: As has been the case for much of the season, Duke's top three scorers dictated and facilitated the Blue Devil offense. Kennard and Allen scored 28 of their 42 combined points in the second-half, helping Duke recover from an early Louisville run that brought the score to 61-49 with 13:07 minutes remaining. Tatum played with remarkable consistency and attacked the rim with poise throughout the afternoon.

Three key plays: Read more »

Halftime: Duke 39, Louisville 37

NEW YORK—The Blue Devils' game against Louisville was supposed to be one of the best games of the weekend, with two top-15 teams meeting in a rare conference tournament quarterfinal.

It took a few minutes to get going, but the contest is living up to its billing.

No. 5 seed Duke leads the fourth-seeded Cardinals 39-37 after a half of play at the Barclays Center, getting 12 points from Jayson Tatum and overcoming a few early turnovers to get hot late in the period. Louisville did not make a shot from the field for nearly five minutes to start the game, but has dominated the Blue Devils around the basket with 28 points in the paint.

After the Cardinals missed their first six shots from the field with and started cold from the perimeter, with first-team All-ACC guard Donovan Mitchell and Quentin Snider missing open triples, they started feeding big men Anas Mahmoud, Jaylen Johnson and Ray Spalding in the post. Read more »

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Louisville

Key three: Duke men's basketball vs. Louisville

Duke is set to play a rare top-15 matchup in the ACC tournament quarterfinals against No. 4 seed Louisville after Luke Kennard came up big down the stretch to lift his team past Clemson Wednesday afternoon. Here are three keys to one of the marquee matchups of Thursday's slate of college basketball for the Blue Devils.

Protect the Paint

In its last meeting against the Cardinals, Duke was unable to stop Louisville’s big men down low. Anas Mahmoud—a seven-foot junior from Egypt—scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Cardinals' 78-69 win Jan. 14, significantly higher than his season averages of 5.8 and 3.9, respectively. The Blue Devils will have to find a way to limit him and the other dangerous Louisville front-court Cardinal players, Jaylen Johnson and Mangok Mathiang. This time around, though, Duke will have Amile Jefferson—who did not play in the last meeting due to a right-foot bone bruise—to help out in the interior.

Feed Frank the Ball

Frank Jackson has been on fire recently. In the last four games, he has averaged 18.3 points while shooting better than 55 percent from the field. The 6-foot-3 guard from Alpine, Utah, has become much more aggressive at attacking the rim, and has also found his shooting touch from deep—he knocked down both of his 3-point attempts Wednesday against the Tigers. The freshman has shot 64.3 percent from beyond the arc in the last four games, providing the Blue Devils with another much-needed deep threat, especially with Grayson Allen's production declining.

Get Back the Grayson of Old

“I’m ready to go... I’m as confident as I need to be,” were the words of the 6-foot-5 junior guard after the win against Clemson, a game in which he would finish with more technical fouls than points—one to zero. Regardless of how Allen feels after his first zero-point performance since freshman year, Duke needs him to attack and become a threat again if it wants to accomplish its goals in March.  Read more »