(Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski enters Barclays Center – Photo by Jason Schott)
Duke, led by big performances from Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen, pulled away in the second half and beat Notre Dame, 88-70 in the ACC Quarterfinals on Thursday night at Barclays Center.
Bagley led the way for Duke, with 33 points, 23 of which came in a second half in which he shot a near-perfect 11-12 from the field. He shot 15-23 overall on the night, including 2-3 on three pointers. He also did it on the boards, collecting 17 rebounds to earn a double-double.
Allen scored 23 points on the night, and 15 of them came in the first 10 minutes of the game. He shot a superb 7-10 on the night, including 5-6 from three-point range.
Duke, thanks to those 15 from Allen, raced out to a 32-19 lead, but Notre Dame would chip away at that lead, and trailed by just four points, 41-37, at halftime.
Allen said of his fast start, “You know, it was important for our team, especially in a tournament like this. You’re playing in a new gym with a new ball, and it’s really good for all of our guys to see some shots go in, especially early on. That really got us going offensively for the rest of the game.
“When we started pushing the ball early, we were getting very good looks, especially with Marvin running the floor, and either getting in great position or getting someone else open on the wing, and I think that got not only him going but a lot of the guards going, as well.”
In the second half, Bagley dominated, as he scored 15 in the first 11 minutes to give Duke a 66-54 lead at the 9:01 mark. A jumper by him at 6:13 made it 76-59, and Duke maintained at least a 15-point lead the rest of the way.
Bagley was asked if he felt this is the best Duke has played all season, and he said, “Absolutely. You know, we’re definitely on a roll right now. Everything is — we don’t have it all figured out yet. We’re still learning, one thing at a time. But I definitely think that we’re getting better and we’re continuing to grow as a team, and it’s not a better time to grow as it is in March when we’re getting into tournaments and stuff like that. It’s a perfect time for us to continue to come together and play at our best.”
In addition to Bagley and Allen, Duke also got a nice game out of Trevon Duval, who had 11 assists and six points on 3-8 from the field; and Gary Trent, Jr., who had eight points (3-9 FG< 1-4 threes), four rebounds, and an assist.
Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the win, “We beat a really good team tonight. You know, look, I hope they get in, because I think they can beat anybody. That was a big-time game tonight. Mike has that team together the whole year, forget it; they could be — I’m telling you, if they get in, they’ll be — they’re going to beat people, and they’ll have a chance. Veteran, you’ve got a kid, Farrell, 12 assists, one turnover, Colson, keep getting in shape. I don’t know how that bubble works and that, but they’re very good. And we were very good in order to beat them.
“I thought Grayson’s leadership has continued to get better and better, and tonight was a great example of him being at his best. He came out as hot as a player could come out hitting shots, and then the nature of the game changed, and he didn’t force anything. He was 7 for 10, 5 for 6 from threes, and no turnovers, but he was leading us throughout. And then obviously Marvin had a great game, and there were some things that — where we could go to him and he was taking advantage of it.
“When you see Grayson, these guys say, okay, he’s got it right now and go to him, you know, that’s terrific. And I know it makes Marvin feel great in that regard. And Marvin is telling Grayson to shoot. And then Tre (Duval) getting 11 assists was big.
“(Wendell) Carter has got an injury problem with his foot that he didn’t practice this week, and he was — he played gingerly tonight, and we’ll see about tomorrow.
“We just have to be really careful. But he did not play at the level because he’s not physically at that level.
“Marques (Bolden) came in and did a really good job, especially in the second half. It was a big team win for us.”
Bolden came off the bench to have eight points on 4-5 from the field, with seven rebounds and an assist in 19 minutes of action.
Notre Dame was led by Bonzie Colson, the hero on Wednesday night in their win against Virginia Tech. Colson had 18 points on 9-17 from the field, with nine rebounds and an assist.
Martinas Geben had 14 points on 6-9 from the field, with eight rebounds and two assists. Matt Farrell was held to 11 points on 4-13 form the field, including 3-11 from behind the arc, with 12 assists to give him a double-double.
Notre Dame entered this one with a superb record of 9-2 in their games at Barclays Center. They had won six in a row here until Duke beat them in the ACC Championship Game last season.
The Fighting Irish shot just 21.7 percent, or 5-23, from three-point range, and were held to just 11 free throw attempts on the night, and they only made five of them.
Coach K said of their three-point defense and cutting down on fouls, “Yeah, you know, we haven’t been fouling. I think in the seven games previous to this, we’ve given up maybe about nine free throws a game. The zone gives us an opportunity not to foul.
“Today I thought the way our perimeter was playing, they extended their three-point shots a little bit, and so they were taking them — Farrell can take them from anywhere and hit them, but they were extended a little bit more. And we were giving up twos, and sometimes that can get really frustrating, but we weren’t giving up threes. That was one of our goals going in is no threes. They could get 10, 12; they’re that good. But our perimeter did a good job in staying high.”
Allen was a freshman among a lot of seniors when they won the national title in 2015, and the script has flipped, with Allen the senior leader among a bunch of freshmen.
Allen said of that, “That’s one similarity, yeah. You know, the way we play is different. One trend that I’m seeing that is a good thing for our team is our defense at the end of the year is the best that it’s been all season, and that’s the same thing that happened in 2015.
“At the end of that year, by the time the tournament came around, we were playing — we were one of the best defenses in the country, and so for this team, that’s one of the things that we need to keep up is keep improving our defense, stay at it, and like Marvin said, keep playing our best basketball.
“But keep getting better. I mean, we’re going to review film and get ready for the next game, but we know there’s a few things we can do better both offensively and defensively, but as long as we keep clicking on the defensive side of the ball, we’ll be good.”
Duke will face the winner of the North Carolina-Miami game in the semifinals on Friday night at 9:30 pm.