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

<p>Grayson Allen drilled four 3-pointers in the last eight minutes of the game to help the Blue Devils pull away.</p>

Grayson Allen drilled four 3-pointers in the last eight minutes of the game to help the Blue Devils pull away.

In head coach Mike Krzyzewski's much anticipated return to the sidelines, the Blue Devils won their third straight game 72-64 against Pittsburgh at Cameron Indoor Stadium with four players scoring in double figures.

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Contain the Panthers’ scorers: Entering the game, Pittsburgh seniors Jamel Artis and Michael Young had been averaging 20.9 and 20.3 points per game, respectively. Although the Blue Devils did not prevent the duo from having good offensive games—Artis scored 17 and Young notched 24 points—Duke was able to shut down the rest of the Panthers squad. Additionally, the Blue Devils’ perimeter defense held Artis and Young to a combined 0-for-8 from 3-point range.
  • Win the battle of the boards: Although Duke ended up pulling away for the win, the team was not able to stop the Panthers from outrebounding them 29-26 in a slow-paced game without many possessions. It did seem as if the Blue Devils were outhustled at times on the glass, but the rebounding margin was small enough that it did not have a big impact on the game.
  • Get Grayson Allen going: The 6-foot-5 junior from Jacksonville, Fla., had a slow start to the contest, but Allen got hot when it mattered most. With Duke struggling to shake off the Panthers late in the game, it looked to the preseason Wooden Award favorite to take over. And take over he did. With about seven minutes left in the game, Allen only had six points. Then, he made a triple. On the next possession, he drove and finished with an acrobatic layup. He followed that up with another quick 3-pointer, then iced the game with yet another triple. A few free throws later, Allen finished the game with 21. Although his first half wasn’t pretty, Allen made his biggest contribution when it mattered most.

Three key stats:

  • Duke has 19 assists to Pittsburgh’s nine: Duke’s ball movement this game was as good as it has been all season in Krzyzewski's first game in a month, with 19 assists and just eight turnovers. The Blue Devils' defense on the other end was also able to keep the Panthers from getting comfortable in their half-court sets.
  • Jamel Artis and Michael Young score 67 percent of Pittsburgh’s points: The two leading scorers in the ACC scored their share of points, but Duke’s ability to contain the rest of the team was incredibly important. Young and Artis are lethal scorers, but the Panthers needed at least one role player to step up, and nobody else scored in double figures.
  • Duke shoots 39.3 percent from beyond the arc to Pittsburgh's 14.3 percent: The Blue Devils completely shut down Artis and Young from deep, and they also did an exceptional job at stifling the rest of the Panthers' squad from long range. With only two three-pointers compared to Duke’s 11—eight of them in the second half—Pittsburgh’s lack of range in the game proved costly.

Three key plays:

  • 7:23 remaining, second half: Allen was only shooting 1-for-6 from beyond the arc up to this point in the game before knocking down a deep 3-pointer to give Duke a five-point lead. This play sparked his hot streak.
  • 4:19 remaining, second half: After catching an inbounds pass from underneath Pittsburgh’s basket, Allen immediately rose up and nailed another triple to give the Blue Devils a 60-51 lead. It was the seventh straight shot Duke made from the field, breaking open a game that was tied midway through the second half. 
  • 0:52 remaining, second half: The Panthers trimmed the deficit to four to make it interesting, but Allen put the nail in the coffin by drilling a 3-pointer from the wing that hit the front of the rim, bounced several feet in the air and snuck into the hoop. Allen finished the night 5-of-11 from 3-point range.

And the Duke game ball goes to.... Grayson Allen

Considering the rocky start the junior had to the game, and that ESPN has been highlighting every movement of his feet since his return from suspension, Allen had a phenomenal performance Saturday. Finishing the game as Duke’s leading scorer and distributor, with 21 points and six assists, Allen silenced the doubters with a much-needed clutch second half.

And the Pittsburgh game ball goes to.... Michael Young

With an impressive 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting and two blocks and a steal defensively, Young was a breath of fresh air for Pittsburgh in the loss. Although the Panthers remain in the basement of the ACC standings, the play of their senior forward has been something they can celebrate.

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