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Damnit, Grayson Allen Was Phenomenal Tonight
11 February 2017, 12:42 | Chelsea Hernandez
Damnit, Grayson Allen Was Phenomenal Tonight
There wasn't really much to say. The Gaels (22-2, 12-1 West Coast) used an 11-2 run midway through the second half to erase a 29-28 deficit. He popped in a piece of Juicy Fruit. North Carolina, which averages more than 16 offensive rebounds, matched a season low with 7 while Duke chased down 24 of UNC's misses. Just nine points. Just five rebounds. Whatever the impetus, the Blue Devils put the rest of college basketball on notice with a 86-78 victory over North Carolina: They are the national title contender everybody expected them to be. But they knew what he brought to the table.
And so as Grayson Allen pulled up the same chair in the same spot in the same locker room following his best game in months - in what just so happened to be the biggest game of Duke's season - the junior wasn't terribly interested in revisiting history, or even going into a deep dissection of his emotions.
"I tried to play free and have fun and just play hard with the guys, and that's what we did", Tatum said.
The North Carolina roster is full of talented and experienced players coming off a national championship appearance a year ago. Carolina finished only 10-of-18 from the foul line on the night.
A few hours prior to tip-off, the Tar Heels announced forward Theo Pinson will return to the court after missing the past three games with an ankle injury against Virginia Tech back on January 26.
Kennard has carried Duke to a certain extent this season, and he's still arguably the best player on the Devils' roster, but Tatum has the capability to carry the team to the next level. This one felt like we'd seen it before.
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Then perhaps Meeks looked at the other names, those who were tasked with easing the loss of Hicks. They're issues they'll have to address and quickly with a closing stretch that includes two games against Virginia, a home game against Louisville and a trip to Pittsburgh in addition to those upcoming rivalry showdowns against State and Duke.
It was the same with Tony Bradley. Duke will need Allen to excel as a scorer as well as a playmaker and Jackson to facilitate in order to win over the Tar Heels.
North Carolina shot 56.3 percent from the field in the first half, including 1 of 4 on 3-pointers. He is one of the best in the ACC at getting steals and it looked like it early tonight.
Maybe it winds up being the most important. An unexpected preseason knee surgery for top freshman Harry Giles uncorked a keg of misery for Duke, injuries spreading across nearly the entire team, right down to the head coach.
Keys from the first half: Matt Jones had to carry his spectacular first half defense over to the second half. Whenever Duke was playing with a short lead and needed a bucket, Allen seemed to materialize at just the right time.
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