New York, NY – If Duke fans were wondering how guard Grayson Allen could top the 30-point performance he dropped on VCU on Friday night, they got their answer on Sunday afternoon when the sophomore put his highly efficient and entertaining game on display in scoring 32 points to lead the Blue Devils to 86-84 victory over Georgetown to claim the championship of the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden.
Inserted back into the Duke line-up after coming off the bench against VCU, Allen continued his stellar play from Friday making shots from all three areas, many highly contested, and needing only a remarkably low 12 shots to score 32 points.
“Grayson’s stat line is sensational,” said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Thirty-two points on 12 shots is a crazy, crazy stat.”
What makes Allen such a tough cover starts with his accuracy from behind the arc, continues with his long first step on the dribble and understanding of angles to get into the paint, extends to the rim where his above average body control allows him to avoid charges and finishes with a soft touch from different release points to score around and over shot blockers.
Allen knocked down 5-of-6 shots from distance shooting off the catch, off the curl and most impressively, off the dribble. He scored Duke’s first basket of the game getting a big on skates and pulling up to shoot a midrange jump shot over him. He worked the creases of the Georgetown zone to get to the rim to score. And he put defenders on notice to foul him at their own risk by converting 9-of-9 free throws to improve his percentage from the line on the season to 90 percent (45-of-49).
“He’s very aggressive and athletic and always attacking on offense,” said Georgetown forward Isaac Copeland.
But Allen’s contribution to the Duke offense extends beyond points. When his path to the rim is blocked by secondary defenders, he’s quick to find open teammates. Allen’s four assists led the Blue Devils against Georgetown and his season total of 16 is tops on the team.
Krzyzewski credited Allen with seeing Duke through an uneven start to the game. “For us, the first 12 minutes were completely disorganized for some reason, and Grayson just kept us in the ball game. We could have been blown out, and he kept us in.”
A D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera lay-up gave Georgetown its biggest lead of the first half at 26-18 at the 8:30 mark. Allen scored ten of Duke’s next 22 points as the Blue Devils took the lead at 40-39 with little more than a minute left in the half. Georgetown’s Kaleb Johnson ended the half on an uptick for Georgetown by throwing in a three-pointer just inside the half court line to give the Hoyas a 47-42 lead at intermission.
Duke came out on fire in the second half. Riding the hot shooting of Allen and junior guard Matt Jones, the Blue Devils rallied to outscore the Hoyas, 19-7 in the first five minutes of the half to re-take a lead they would never relinquish.
“It was just a war,” said Krzyzewski. “Certainly a game befitting a championship game. Obviously, the game could’ve gone either way.”
As much as the two games in Madison Square Garden opened the collective eyes of the college basketball world to the highly talented Allen, the also served as a coming out party of sorts for Duke freshman guard Derryck Thornton.
The Findlay Prep (NV) graduate followed up a strong game against VCU, when he scored 19 points on only 11 shots, by scoring 14 points against Georgetown on only six shots.
In his address to the media and without being asked specifically about Thornton, Krzyzewski wanted to make sure media members saw the same thing he did. “Derryck Thornton is 18 years old…are you kidding me?” said the longtime Duke coach in admiration of his point guard’s play. “He was really, really good here and he’s going to be a big bonus for us.”
Even though splitting games against Wisconsin and Duke left Georgetown with a 1-3 record to start the season, the Hoyas served notice to the rest of the Big East that they have the talent and depth to contend for the conference championship.
In commenting on Duke’s quick start to the second half that saw it erase the Georgetown lead and build a lead of its own, Thompson said, “Both teams had been answering each other’s runs, but in that stretch, we just didn’t answer.”
Falling behind 84-78, Georgetown kept its poise and cut its deficit to two at 86-84 with five seconds to play. A missed free throw by Thornton landed in the hands of Georgetown forward Isaac Copeland, who advanced the ball on the dribble to about 35 feet from the hoop on the left side of the court. His three-point shot was off and Duke escaped with the win.
“I had just hit two (three-point) shots from that area and I was confident,” said Copeland. “I got to the spot on the court I wanted to get to.”
Copeland’s missed shot takes nothing away from the strong game he played leading the Hoyas with 21 points and six rebounds. A rising sophomore with an inside/outside game, he led Georgetown in scoring in both games in the Garden and projects as one of the better swing forwards in the Big East this season.
To no one’s surprise, Allen was named the most valuable player of the 2K Classic. Krzyzewski said Allen was “deserving” of the award and that no other player besides Allen should have been considered for it. With two performances like the ones Allen put on in the 2K Classic, and even though the college basketball season is only ten days old, Allen vaulted himself into the discussion for player of the year.
Concluding a stretch of three road games (Kentucky, VCU, Georgetown) in six days, Duke returns home to face Yale on November 25. Georgetown likewise finished a three-game road swing (Maryland, Wisconsin, Duke) and faces Bryant at home on November 28.
This article was written by Tom Osowski, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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