If there were any questions about who will run the Blue Devils' offense without Trevon Duval on the floor, Grayson Allen answered them emphatically Saturday afternoon.
Although Duke was playing without Duval, Alex O'Connell and Jordan Goldwire, it trounced Bowie State 116-53 in its final exhibition contest. With the trio of freshmen guards suspended for academic reasons, the Blue Devils had three big men on the floor at almost all times and dominated the interior. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game the freshmen had been tardy and missed a few classes.
In place of Duval at point guard, Allen had 11 assists and fed it into the post with ease, and the Blue Devils finished with 18 dunks.
"With how these guys should be improving throughout the year, we shouldn’t hit a ceiling this year. We should just keep getting better," Allen said. "It makes it easy when I can just throw it up there and let them go get it."
Although Krzyzewski said before the season he wanted Allen to hunt his own shot on offense, that changed with Duval and Goldwire both in sweats at the end of the bench, forcing the ball into the senior's hands. With Allen playing in control, he could attack the basket and still have different options to make plays when he saw a big man cutting to the basket.
"The first three years, he was knocked to the floor a lot, not necessarily because he was fouled, but he extended himself too much. He’s worked and we’ve worked to have better balance," Krzyzewski said. "He can make more plays when he does so. That’s why he had 11 assists.”
Duke broke the game open with a 19-0 run in the first half to seize a 28-3 lead and continued moving the ball well on offense, repeatedly finding openings inside for layups and dunks against a Bulldog team without a player taller than 6-foot-8.
Allen and freshmen Gary Trent Jr., Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III all had at least 21 points, as Carter in particular looked comfortable in the post with several putback dunks and short hooks over smaller opponents. He finished the day 11-of-13 from the field with 14 rebounds.
"We don’t have as many shooters as Duke has had in the past, but we have phenomenal big men who, when people do shoot, are all over the offensive glass," Carter said. "We’re going to go out there and play the way we’ve been playing—hustling, rebounding. We should be undefeated this year."
Sophomore center Marques Bolden was also effective coming off the bench, overpowering Bowie State for 13 points. But fellow big man Javin DeLaurier was relatively quiet despite earning the starting nod with Duval benched, scoring just two points in 14 minutes.
Trent and Allen played off each other well in the backcourt, with Trent ready to knock down a triple whenever the veteran ball-handler kicked it out to him. Trent had an efficient 22 points on 13 field-goal attempts, knocking down five triples.
"We had a lot of ball-handlers not there today, and we haven’t seen Gary in that role," Krzyzewski said. "He was even more athletic and poised. He and Grayson did a great job.”
Aside from Trent, the Blue Devils made just two triples, playing to their strengths and mismatches under the basket.
Defensively, Duke slowed Bowie State down with a 2-3 zone for most of the first half that featured two guards at the top and three big men on the baseline. The Bulldogs were limited to deep triples late in the shot clock time after time and took nearly half of their shots from beyond the arc, with little success.
"A lot of times, offenses stand up when they attack the zone and don’t really like to drive or attack," Allen said. "We have the ability to throw different defenses at teams with the length and athleticism that we have."
All 10 of Duke's available scholarship players scored except freshman Jordan Tucker, and the Blue Devils reached triple digits on the scoreboard with almost 10 minutes left before a sloppier finish.
Duke will open the regular season Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Elon.
"It’s going to be fun and you can’t be tired, mentally or physically," Bolden said. "We’ve got two back-to-back games and then we’re going to be on the road traveling, but it’s what you signed up for, so really just enjoy all of it."
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