For all the hype freshmen get, and at times it’s truly deserved, upperclassmen still know things they don't and can’t. That was the case Tuesday night as Grayson Allen led Duke past Michigan State 88-81.
We’ve been telling you guys, those who haven’t seen for yourselves, that this team has something special. Marvin Bagley went out after 10 minutes after getting accidentally poked in the eye by (we think) Javin DeLaurier. He left the court and while he returned to the bench for the second half, didn’t play again.
It hurt, but not nearly as much as we expected. Duke seemed to do fairly well without him.
A lot of that was Allen, who shot 11-20 overall, 7-11 overall and 8-8 from the line. He had an answer for nearly every run Michigan State ripped off.
Of course it wasn’t just Allen though. One of the eye-popping stats in this game was rebounding.
Traditionally Duke has preferred speed and ballhawking to rebounding. Not this year: before he left the game, Bagley had five offensive boards in the first 10 minutes (and six overall).
We’re not sure we remember this ever happening before but Duke had more offensive rebounds than defensive (25 to 21).
Wendell Carter had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Javin DeLaurier, who had foul trouble and still played intelligently, had seven.
Everyone who played had at least one offensive rebound except for Antonio Vrankovic and Alex O’ Connell.
Look a little past that though and check out what Trevon Duval did. Not only did he run the break authoritatively and occasionally brilliantly, he was within shouting distance of a triple double the hard way: points, assists and steals (17, 10 and six respectively).
He wasn't flawless: he had three turnovers, including one on a break where he could have and should have known better, and he shot a three point airball at a critical point in the game.
Big whoop. It’s November; he can afford to make some mistakes.
We didn’t realize that Gary Trent was just 3-14. He looked more efficient than that and he again showed a lot of intelligence.
Duke’s bench against the Spartans consisted of Bolden, O’ Connell, Vrankovic and Jordan Goldwire, who continues to exceed expectations. We don’t mean his stats, we mean his playing time. He was basically brought in as a practice player but he’s already carved out a bigger role than that. At a minimum he’s a competent point guard Duke trusts against the #2 team in the country.
And it’s a deserved #2 because this team is superb. Start with Miles Bridges, who was sensational.
He’s an interesting story as you’ll see in this link and hard to dislike. He looked every bit the future pro he’s going to be with some spectacular plays, including a stunning block on a Trent drive and lighting it up from outside.
Then there’s freshman Jaren Jackson, Jr. He’s 6-11 and hit 2-3 three pointers. He’s averaging double 13s.
As you’d expect from a Tom Izzo team, they’re tough and they were a much better running team than we expected. That’ll come in handy when Izzo goes over the rebounding stats tomorrow because they’re likely to run a lot.
They also did a great job blocking shots: MSU blocked Duke 12 times, which had a lot to do with the Blue Devils shooting slightly better from behind the line (39.5%) than overall (39.1%).
If we had to pick our favorite coaches in college, we’d stick with Coach K first. After that though? We’d go with Izzo.
His teams always play together, they’re smart and sound and they’d be easy to pull for. Actually we do pull for them when they’re not playing Duke. Whatever is wrong with the sport hasn’t affected East Lansing.
When we were kids growing up in North Carolina, because Dean Smith explained things consistently, everyone knew how to play zones and fill lanes in pickup games. We’re sure it’s like that up there too. Izzo is a wonderful coach. Spartan fans should be thrilled to have him.
As for Duke, even without Bagley, even with a lot of erratic freshman mistakes, the Blue Devils looked tremendous. Just looking down the Top 25, there are a number of teams that could beat Duke and not just in the Top Ten...but there’s not a team that we look at think wow, that’s a big hill to climb.
This team is as good as any in the country and it’s going to get better.
No word on Bagley yet but Gary Parrish tweeted this out for what it’s worth:
Nothing official yet on Marvin Bagley. But nobody I spoke with connected to the Duke program seems too concerned. He’ll be back in the lineup soon.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) November 15, 2017
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