How does a team celebrate the 1,000th game in one of college basketball’s most iconic venues?
With a riveting, all-around effort to pick up its first win against a ranked opponent this season.
Duke defeated No. 13 Louisville 72-65 Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, powered by a combined 37 points from Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram. After Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half, Ingram helped close out the game from the free-throw line, handling the ball beyond the 3-point line and slashing to the basket to draw contact.
“It was kind of spread it, isolate and let him be instinctively there,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Instead of waiting for him to get the ball, we gave him the ball…. And he really did a good job.”
The Blue Devils (18-6, 7-4 in the ACC) led by 15 early in the second half, but the Cardinals (19-5, 8-3) erupted to make 12 of their first 16 shots coming out of the locker room, quickly narrowing the gap to just one a few minutes later behind a 13-0 run.
Louisville took a 58-57 lead on an old-fashioned 3-point play by point guard Quentin Snider, but Duke snatched it back on a lay-up by Matt Jones, who wedged around his defender to the left and finished off the glass.
As the game approached its dramatic conclusion, a young Blue Devil team that has struggled in late-game situations this year did not look back. Instead they penetrated, with Ingram serving as the de facto floor general, resulting in eight straight free throws.
After a defensive stop leading by six with less than a minute to go, Duke passed the ball around the perimeter as Louisville elected not to foul. With about 10 seconds left on the shot clock, the ball swung to freshman point guard Derryck Thornton on the right wing. As the Blue Devils had done so effectively throughout the closing minutes, he drove to the elbow—but momentarily lost the ball.
Thornton looked down, found the ball beneath his legs and gave a pump-fake to send Louisville swingman Damion Lee flying past him. With the shot clock winding down, he then navigated around an incoming Anas Mahmoud and flipped up a shot that banked in off the glass as the buzzer sounded.
“I live for stuff like that,” Thornton said. “I was very confident when I took the shot and it went in.… I love positions like that.”
Trey Lewis responded by downing a 3-pointer, and Louisville got the ball back down five with 22 seconds left. But Lee missed his fifth 3-pointer of the game, and Duke sealed the game with two free throws.
“This one was a great win for these kids, not a good one, a great win,” Krzyzewski said. “Somehow, our group just showed incredible toughness while they were tired [in the second half].”
The game lived up to its billing as a clash between Duke’s explosive offense and Louisville’s stingy defense. The Blue Devils’ 72 points was about the midpoint between Duke’s 84.8 points scored per game and the Cardinals’ 59.8 points allowed per contest.
The decisive surprise was Duke’s rebounding. Taking on the No. 9 team in the country in rebounding and playing with a small lineup for much of the night, the hosts outrebounded the Cardinals 33-32. Ingram stepped up for a game-high 10 rebounds—recording his fifth double-double of the season—and Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku suffered through one of his poorest outings of the year—three turnovers, three rebounds and two points in 22 minutes.
Duke took a 35-24 lead into the locker room thanks to fearless play of Allen, who knocked down his first three 3-point attempts of the game and added a fourth on the Blue Devils’ opening possession of the second half. But the Jacksonville, Fla., native did damage from elsewhere too, on one play driving relentlessly to the goal, drawing a bump on Mahmoud before tossing up a shot for an 3-point play that gave Duke an 18-12 lead.
The Duke defense delivered one of its best performances of ACC play Monday, holding Lee and Lewis to 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting in the first half. Louisville finished the first half shooting 31.3 from the field, but freshman Donovan Mitchell picked up the slack—scoring 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
The Blue Devils needed more than just the star power of Allen and Ingram to win Monday night. Plumlee was solid in the paint—the graduate student finished the game with 10 points and eight rebounds—and Jones scored all eight of his points in the second half. Thornton played gritty defense, and Luke Kennard finished with 11 points, teaming with Ingram to score 11 of Duke’s next 12 points after the Cardinals trimmed the lead to 44-43.
“They’re becoming ‘this Duke team,’ whatever that is,” Krzyzewski said.
Duke’s four-game gauntlet continues Saturday, when the Blue Devils welcome No. 7 Virginia to Cameron Indoor Stadium at 4:30 p.m.