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Devils Rip Pitt 81-54

It was never really in question either.

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NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Duke
Jan 20, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Grayson Allen (3) falls after being fouled during the first half against the Pitt Panthers at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Duke ran its record to 17-2 Saturday afternoon (5-2 ACC) with an 81-54 over a game but overmatched Pittsburgh team. Game but overmatched could be the official nickname for a Pitt team that lost its seventh straight game—all in the ACC—to drop to 8-12 overall.

Duke defeated the same team 87-52 ten days ago at Pitt, so not surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of drama in Cameron.

The only real question was whether the Duke bench would score.

I’ll leave you in suspense on that one.

It was an old-fashioned win for Duke in several respects. The Blue Devils knocked down 12-of-26 from beyond the arc, Gary Trent, Jr. 5-for-7, Grayson Allen 4-for-10. The other three starters notched one triple apiece.

And then there was the defense, aggressive, in-your-face-ball-denial, eight steals but perhaps even more impressive, three ten-second violations on the visitors, one actually coming after a Pitt timeout.

Mike Krzyzewski used an analogy I’ve never heard before.

“Defense is like learning to dance. If you would see somebody in a defensive stance walking down the street, you’d cross the street because you wouldn’t want to pass that person. Your body doesn’t just do that. Your body doesn’t move naturally like that. It has to learn how to dance. . .. We’re trying to teach them how to dance defensively. The music of defense is talk. If you can get five guys talking, then maybe you can dance together, and you can win.”

Duke went inside early and often, Wendell Carter, Jr. and Marvin Bagley III scoring Duke’s first 11 points, as Duke jumped to an 11-5 lead.

It did get chippy early, about six minutes into the game. Allen was trying to convert a steal when he was fouled by Kene Chukwuna.

Allen went down hard and came up hot. A flagrant-1 foul was called and everyone settled down.

When asked if this play fired him up, Allen responded that he was already fired up.

“That added to the fire. But it was already there.”

Every Duke starter played well but Carter stood out, hitting 9-of-ten from the field, 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and two steals, scoring in a variety of ways, a 3-pointer, midrange, off the dribble, post-ups, offensive rebounds.

“My teammates find me in the right position,” Carter said. “I’m taking shots when I’m open, shots that I’m working on in practice. The ball found me on those good spots. I’ve been working on ball-handling with the coaches after every practice, trying to get more comfortable on the perimeter.”

Perhaps most encouragingly, Carter was called for only a single foul.

“On the defensive end, my IQ is increasing and I’m picking where to foul and when not to foul. I don’t have to block everything.”

Krzyzewski agrees.

“He’s getting experience. He learns from his mistakes. He was making silly mistakes. He and Marvin are such good students of the game and they want to learn so much. They haven’t watched tapes. They’ve watched tapes of when they dunk, mix tapes but they haven’t watched their foot movements, they don’t watch when they commit a silly foul, they don’t watch what they do on the help side on defense. So, when they come here, they have an opportunity to be educated about the game. Our two big men really want to learn about the game.”

Once Bagley and Carter established themselves inside, it opened things up on the perimeter.

“I want to find places in the offense where I can score,” Trent said. “When the big guys get going inside, it can’t do anything but open it up for me outside. Stay patient and be ready. I’m comfortable out there, a lot of good things going on.”

Trent has 66 points in his last three games, making 17 of 23 from beyond the arc.

Krzyzewski praised Trent for playing like a senior, with poise and purpose.

Trent ended with 17 points, Allen with 16, a trio of 3-pointers after intermission hopefully breaking the much-talked-about slump.

And Bagley’s 20 points and seven rebounds seem routine by now, a tribute to the high level he’s playing at.

Duke led 48-26 at intermission and dialed it back down the stretch, their lead peaking at 64-30.

It wasn’t all unicorns and kittens. Duke led 38-17, when Pitt went on a 9-0 run. Not coincidentally, three Duke reserves were on the floor at the time. Duke gave six reserves 56 minutes of playing time and got two points in return, a layup by Antonio Vrankovic with 1:29 left. Javin DeLaurier shook off the rust with three rebounds and two blocks, but also four fouls in 10 minutes. Jack White grabbed four boards in nine minutes. But the Duke bench shot 1-for-11.

Marques Bolden again sat out with a knee sprain. No word on his return.

Duke goes to Winston-Salem Tuesday to face Wake Forest, another quick rematch, also 10 days after the first meeting, won by Duke 89-71. The team is convinced that its hard work in practice is paying off and they seem to have found their defensive mojo.

“That’s the type of defense we want to play,” Allen says. “Trust the pressure and get out and run. Let Trevon and Jordan control the point guard and the wings can get out and contest. That leads right into our offense. I’m having fun playing defense, trying to get steals and deflections and help the team that way. We’re getting so much better at it. We work on it every day and we want that to be part of our team.”


Duke outrebounded Pitt 36-26, while shooting 51.8 percent from the field, 46.2 percent on 3s.

This was only the third time this season Duke has failed to have a double-digit rebounder. Furman and Evansville were the others.

Duke is 11-7 against the Panthers, 5-1 since Pitt entered the ACC.

Allen’s 16 points give him 1,710 for his career, 22nd on the all-time Duke list. Bobby Hurley is next, at 1,731.


Player Of The Game vs. Pitt

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Grayson Allen
    (50 votes)
  • 1%
    Marvin Bagley
    (10 votes)
  • 80%
    Wendell Carter
    (456 votes)
  • 4%
    Gary Trent
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    Trevon Duval
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Jack White
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Justin Robinson
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Antonio Vrankovic
    (7 votes)
565 votes total Vote Now