Duke rounded out its trip to the Big Apple with an 86-84 win against Georgetown in the title game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden. After trailing for most of the first half, veterans Matt Jones and Grayson Allen took control of the game early in the second period, with Allen scoring a career-high 32 points. Freshman Derryck Thornton followed up his breakout performance against Virginia Commonwealth with 14 points of his own.
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
Defend the 3-point line: After struggling to contain the Hoyas' shooting in the first half, the Blue Devils switched to a 1-3-1 zone at times after intermission, with Amile Jefferson manning the top of the key. The wrinkle was effective in limiting Georgetown's long-range attempts, as sharp-shooter Isaac Copeland went scoreless in the second half until two late 3-pointers during desperation time. Freshman Kaleb Johnson hit a couple of late treys as well as the Hoyas mounted a comeback in the game's waning moments of the game.
Avoid foul trouble: The final minutes of the game could have been disastrous for the Blue Devils, as veteran big men Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson both fouled out with a minute to play. This allowed the pesky Hoyas to hang around at the end of the game. The veterans have to be smarter moving forward as Luke Kennard and Brandon Ingram were left on the court as the Hoyas made foul shots and almost won the game in the final minute.
Get Kennard on track: Although overshadowed again by Thornton, Kennard scored eight points off the bench. He was 4-of-4 from the charity stripe and played valuable minutes down the stretch after the veterans fouled out. Kennard is slowly being integrated into the offense and showed glimpses of what he can do with the ball Sunday.
Three key plays:
8:15, first half: With the Hoya offense spacing well and giving the Blue Devil defense fits early on, Allen sunk a 3-pointer to cut the Georgetown lead to 26-21 and ensure that the game did not get out of hand in the first half. Allen scored nine more points in the first half and helped Duke get back in the game.
17:10, second half: L.J. Peak’s dunk made it 54-53 Hoyas, silencing the crowd after the Blue Devils started out fast in the second half. But Allen started another Duke surge with three made free-throws and the Blue Devils went on a 10-0 run, with Jefferson capped with a layup off of a nifty pass from Allen. The Blue Devils did not relinquish the lead the rest of the game.
0:07, second half: Copeland made a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to 86-84 with seven seconds left in the game. With two veterans on the bench with five fouls, the Blue Devils relied on Thornton to close out the game from the free-throw line. The Chatsworth, Calif., native missed both freebies with 5.4 seconds left, but Copeland’s game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
Three key stats:
Duke shoots 77.8 percent from the free-throw line: Duke made the most of its opportunities from the charity stripe, which became a deciding factor down the stretch. After shooting a horrid 55.9 percent from the line against Virginia Commonwealth Friday night, the Blue Devils improved their shooting stroke just in time. Allen shot 9-of-9 from the line and Thornton went 8-of-10.
Blue Devils grab 31 rebounds: The Blue Devils gained the advantage on the glass against the Hoyas, outrebounding Georgetown 27-31 and collecting six more offensive rebounds. Second-chance opportunities kept Duke's offense firing on all cylinders, with Amile Jefferson grabbing boards and kicking it out to Allen and Thornton to call out a new halfcourt set.
Duke records six steals: The Blue Devil defenders consistently harassed passing lanes and disrupted the ball when the Hoyas were on offense. Both Allen and lanky freshman Brandon Ingram logged two steals and kept the Hoya offense out of sync in the second half.
And the Duke game ball goes to…Grayson Allen
After having a career night against the Rams on Friday night, Allen did it again Sunday to the tune of 32 points, going 5-of-6 from long range and finishing a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line. Allen led a 10-0 run early in the second half and a 7-0 run later in the half to seal the win for the Blue Devils, proving that he is Duke's clear offensive leader.
And the Georgetown game ball goes to…Isaac Copeland
Copeland helped the Hoyas get out to an early lead, scoring 15 points in the first half. Although he did not score in the second half until two late 3-pointers in the closing seconds, Copeland grabbed six rebounds and had a shot to win the game at the end that fell short at the buzzer.
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