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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / January 16.
  • Gary Trent Jr., No. 5 Duke Rally Late for Road Win at No. 25 Miami

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     Duke turned the ball over 19 times, missed 11-of-21 free throws, received underwhelming offensive performances from their top-two scorers, and essentially played just five guys on Monday.

    Oh, and the fifth-ranked Blue Devils managed to come away with an 83-75 win at No. 25 Miami.

    It must be nice to be Mike Krzyzewski and Duke.

    Except for the first three-quarters of the game, it wasn’t.

    Duke trailed by 13 with just over eleven minutes remaining. At that point, nearly a third of their possessions were ending in turnovers, often leading to effortless Miami runouts in transition.

    Suddenly, the script flipped. Duke went the final 11:10 without committing a single turnover. Gary Trent Jr., who finished with a career-high and game-high 30 points, began raining threes.

    And, by taking care of the ball, Duke prevented further Miami fast-break opportunities and exposed the Hurricanes’ half-court offensive fallacies.

    Just like that, Duke ended the game on a 30-9 run, accomplishing something in Coral Gables that they failed to do at Boston College and North Carolina State: win on the road in conference play.

    “Defense,” Trent said when asked by ESPN’s Allison Williams afterward on the key to victory. “We locked up and we fought. That’s all we had to do.”

    Duke held Miami to a season-low 38-percent two-point mark. Bruce Brown finished with just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. Lonnie Walker made 5-of-8 threes but converted on only 1-of-9 two-pointers. Even Dewan Huell required 16 shots to amass his 18 points.

    For all the flak we’ve directed at Duke for their subpar defense this season, give the Blue Devils credit for battling on that end of the floor on Monday. Wendell Carter walled up and used his girth to alter countless shots. Marvin Bagley was also effective at times in that department. Miami shot itself in the foot as well, attempting far too much hero ball. Following the loss, the Hurricanes fell to 105th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric.

    If you’ve soured on Duke as a legitimate national title contender for a myriad of reasons, Monday made you look dumb. Why? Because, on the road against a ranked foe, they overcame a 13-point deficit late, in addition to all of the following, and still won:

    • Grayson Allen mustered just five points on 2-of-9 shooting, continuing his brutal 2018. In four games this calendar year, the senior is averaging just 6.5 points and has made 4-of-22 (18 percent) from beyond the arc.
    • Bagley registered 13 points and 12 rebounds—his 15th double-double, setting a Duke freshman record in the process—but he was not his usual dominant self. Miami was very active guarding Bagley on the catch, and at least early on he was forced to finish over the top of the defense and thru length. As such, excluding the Michigan State game in which he logged just ten minutes due to an eye injury, Monday was his lowest-scoring output of the season.
    • Again, it bears repeating that Krzyzewski basically had his starting five at his disposal, and nothing more. Javin DeLaurier (hamstring) and Marques Bolden (knee), Duke’s top two reserves, were unable to play. At one point in the first half, right before a TV timeout, Bagley was flanked by Jordan Goldwire (as Trevon Duval found himself in early foul trouble), Justin Robinson, Jack White, and Alex O’Connell. If K ever has to roll out that lineup again, nametags would be useful.
    Miami surely played a role in Duke winning on Monday. The Hurricanes are fading fast, having lost four of seven after beginning the season 10-0. A darkhorse pick to win the ACC back in the preseason, Miami is now 2-3 in the league. The biggest takeaway for me is that a backcourt that should be one of the nation’s best has underperformed to date, from Brown to Ja’Quan Newton to projected one-and-done Lonnie Walker.

    For the initial 75 percent of Monday’s game, Duke was quite vulnerable. For the latter 25 percent, the Blue Devils looked like the best team in the country. It’s not the first time this season that Duke’s crunch-time proficiency has belied their experience (or lack thereof).

    “Simply we just gotta play like men,” Trent said on how Duke can apply the win going forward. “Coach keeps telling us to play like men, we can’t play like little boys. I feel like we made a big step tonight.”


    We can’t provide a thorough recap of Monday’s game without highlighting Duval.

    He was really good, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go along with 8 assists (5 turnovers). Most promising for the freshman guard is the fact he knocked down both of his three-pointers.

    It’s a super small sample, but Duval has made 6-of-8 triples in his last three games. He had been 7-of-42 from deep (17 percent) entering this stretch. If he can even keep the defense slightly honest and attract a little more attention on the perimeter, it will enable him to more adequately attack closeouts and drive downhill and, perhaps more importantly for Duke, improve the spacing on the floor.

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    Photo: AP