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Duke Pushes Past Louisville In A Key ACC Road Game

A solid team effort gets an important victory for the Blue Devils

Duke v Louisville
 LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - JANUARY 29: Theo John #12 of the Duke Blue Devils shoots the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on January 29, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Louisville dominated the middle portions of their Saturday matchup against Duke. But the Blue Devils owned the beginning and the end and that was enough for the Blue Devils to escape hostile KFC Yum Center with a 74-65 win.

Duke never trailed. But it was tied as late as 60-60, with about eight minutes left. But Louisville got stuck on 60 for over six minutes. Duke used a dominant defense and couple of back-breaking 3-pointers by A.J. Griffin to fuel a 15-2 run that broke open the physical contest.

Louisville’s basketball program has been much in the news lately and not for the right reasons. Embattled head coach Chris Mack was dismissed earlier this week and replaced by assistant Mike Pegues, at least for the interim.

How would the Cardinals react? Would they be inspired or would they continue their recent woes?

The answer seemed to be a little of both.

Duke stormed out of the gates. It was tied at two before Griffin, Jeremy Roach (3-pointer), Mark Williams, a Griffin 3 and Williams again made it 14-2.

Note that none of those points came from Paolo Banchero or Wendell Moore, Jr. Duke has lots of weapons.

Duke’s lead peaked at 24-8. Then Louisville found their footing. Dre Davis made their first 3-pointer, sparking a 7-0 run that got the home team back in the game.

But Duke fought through some adversity and held solid. Trevor Keels was out again. Moore didn’t score until 52 seconds left in the first half. Williams picked up two fouls and took a seat on the bench. But Theo John came off the bench for Williams and scored six first-half points, Roach settled the team down and Griffin was magnificent.

Still, Louisville kept coming. The lead was still in double digits as late as 33-23, with 3:10 left in the half. Louisville’s own seven-footer Malik Williams took over the game for a while and El Ellis hit a 3 and it was 37-35.

Louisville had a chance to tie or take the lead at the end of the half but Malik Williams was called for a travel, with .6 second left. That was just enough time for Griffin to bury a rainbow 3 and Duke was up 40-35 at the half.

The momentum didn’t last long. The home team tied the game at 45, culminating a 37-21 run spanning both halves.

And the home team seemed to be in full knocking-Duke-back-mode. I thought I was going to have to dust off that old “went to a fight and a basketball game broke out” joke. But Duke didn’t give an inch, not to the bumps, the elbows, the shoves, the trash-talking.

The decisive run came just after Ellis tied the game at 60-60 with a 3-pointer with just over eight minutes remaining and the home crowd in a frenzy.

Duke’s defense took over. Louisville missed their next 10 shots and by that time it was 72-60. Williams had two blocks, Banchero one during this span, while Griffin knocked down two more bombs, making it 65-60 and 68-60.

Mike Krzyzewski described that winning run.

“We were able to hang in there and keep it either tied or a two-point lead until Mark came back in and Mark had been a tremendous influence on the game in keeping balls alive on offense and protecting the basket. Our half court execution was really good, and AJ was terrific. When it was 62-60, he hit a three and then he hit another three, if they don’t hit threes, that puts you up four possessions and then we were able to get a stop and then we had two really good offensive executions which took some time, and we were able to stop them and got that margin.”

Griffin led Duke with 22 points. Williams had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Banchero (11 points) and Moore (10) didn’t have great scoring games but the former had 15 rebounds, the latter five assists.

And Roach continued his superb floor game, with five assists against a single turnover.

Ellis led Louisville with 18 points off the bench.

“He’s had games like this,” Krzyzewski said of Griffin “but they’ve been at home or a neutral site. He’s just a rising star, he’s not a rising good player, he’s a rising star and all our guys realize that and so the amount of attention that Paulo gets, or Wendell, helps him. The last couple of games he hasn’t shot like that, so they’re trying to stop those guys and all of a sudden he’s open and the good thing is the guys look for him. He’s never nervous and he loves to play.”

Duke cleaned up two recent areas of concern. The Blue Devils turned it over only seven times and out-rebounded Louisville 47-34, with a 20-10 edge in offensive rebounding.

It wasn’t perfect, of course. Griffin was 5 for 5 from beyond the arc, everyone else 1 for 15. And friends don’t talk about 8 for 18 from the line. But a road win that moves Duke’s record to 7-2 in the ACC and 17-3 overall? A very good two hours in Louisville.


Player Of The Game vs. Louisville

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Wendell Moore
    (2 votes)
  • 86%
    AJ Griffin
    (530 votes)
  • 1%
    Paolo Banchero
    (11 votes)
  • 7%
    Mark Williams
    (48 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeremy Roach
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Joey Baker
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Theo John
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Bates Jones
    (6 votes)
613 votes total Vote Now