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Five things we learned from No. 1 Duke’s win over No. 2 Michigan State

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CHICAGO – No. 1 Duke knocked off No. 2 Michigan State behind a 37-point explosion from Grayson Allen on Tuesday night.

They won despite losing Marvin Bagley III to an eye injury midway through the first half.

Those two things are facts. Here are five things we learned in the process:

1. DUKE’S ZONE LOOKS LIKE IT HAS SOME STAYING POWER

Duke surprised a lot of people when they came out in a 2-3 zone to start Tuesday night’s game. Mike Krzyzewski has been a proponent of an extended, half-court man-to-man that it is weird to see the Blue Devils doing anything other than denying passing lanes, extending out to half court and daring an opponent’s ball-handlers to try and beat them one-on-one.

But that’s not what we got in the United Center on Tuesday night, and it worked.

“I thought they were just playing 2-3 against lower-major teams and when they played higher-major teams they’d go back to man,” Miles Bridges said. “They were deflecting almost every pass. I guess I had five turnovers, Cash had four turnovers, Josh had five turnovers. We couldn’t even get the ball moving like we wanted to.”

Duke didn’t necessarily come into this game thinking that they were going to play only zone, but it was hard to get out of it once they saw how effective it could be. Michigan State had just 14 points with seven minutes left in the first half. They were down 38-34 at the break, and of those 34 points, 13 came in transition and nine came on three straight possessions in a one minute span where the Spartans buried a three. For the most part, that zone took away everything that Michigan State wanted to do.

And it makes sense when you think about it.

Duke has as much size, length and athleticism along their front line as they’ve had in years, and the combination of Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen at the top of the zone causes havoc. It’s the method that Jim Boeheim has used so successfully over the last 40 years.

“We were worried about fouls,” Krzyzewski said. “In man, they were deeper than us and would wear us down. The nervousness of the game, we might get some dumb fouls.”

And they did.

But in the end the zone ended up being enough.

2. TREVON DUVAL IS A HELL OF A PLAYER

Entering the season, Duval was the biggest question mark on this Duke roster. We knew Grayson Allen had an all-american season under his belt. We know that Gary Trent was a scorer. We knew that Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter would be able to anchor the front line.

What we were unsure of was whether or not Duval was the answer to Duke’s woes at the point guard spot.

He sure looked that way on Tuesday night, finishing with 17 points, 10 assists, six steals and three boards while sparking Duke’s transition game and finding a way to create offense when the Blue Devils needed a bucket.

He’s still not a shooter – 7-for-20 from the floor, 0-for-4 from three, 3-for-7 from the line … that’s not good – and that certainly is a concern for the kind of NBA prospect he can be in the long-term. And to be frank, Duval was at his best after Bagley was out of the game, when he didn’t have to worry about running offense through the most talented player on the Duke roster.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Duke just beat the No. 2 team in the country without Bagley, and Duval was the second-best player on the floor in the game. That means something.

Jaren Jackson Jr. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

3. MICHIGAN STATE HAS THEMSLEVES A PLAYER IN JAREN JACKSON

Miles Bridges did everything he could to bring Michigan State back in this game, and Nick Ward was a bastion of productivity, as he always is.

But the guy that made a name for himself on Tuesday night was Jaren Jackson, a five-star, 6-foot-11 freshman forward that has the talent to be a top ten pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA Draft. He finished with 19 points and seven boards, but more important was the fact that he went 3-for-5 from three and blocked three shots. Players that provide rim protection on end and floor-spacing on the other are, quite literally, the most valuable commodity in basketball when it comes to role players, and Jackson may be the best at that role in the country this year.

He’s the perfect four-man to play alongside Bridges and Ward, and while Michigan State is leaving Chicago with a loss, they should sleep well knowing that their front line made Bagley and Carter look normal.

4. JAVIN DELAURIER IS GOING TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE FOR THE BLUE DEVILS

DeLaurier didn’t play much as a freshman and didn’t get much attention heading into this season. He may have been a top 50 prospect coming out of high school, but when you’re behind three five-star players on the depth chart a year after failing to crack the rotation, it’s hard to get too excited.

But DeLaurier proved who he can be on Tuesday night, finishing with four points, seven boards, four assists, three steals and two blocks. He’s not all that skilled, but he is long and athletic, and he plays hard. Those are things that are incredibly value to a team that has a plethora of scorers in their starting lineup, particularly when that team is going to be playing quite a bit of zone this year.

In fact, DeLaurier made arguably the biggest play of the game on Tuesday. With just over three minutes left, he grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Grayson Allen, who gathered an assist by swinging the ball to a wide-open Gary Trent. Trent buried a three that broke a 75-all tie and gave Duke a lead they would never relinquish.

DeLaurier isn’t ever going to be a star, but he’ll thrive in the role he’s asked to play.

5. MICHIGAN STATE’S BACK COURT IS STILL A QUESTION MARK

Cassius Winston had 11 assists on Tuesday night. He also had five turnovers, shot just 1-for-5 from the floor and finished with just three points. Josh Langford made some plays in transition, but he was 3-for-9 from the floor and missed some critical shots in the second half.

Those were the major question marks with this team heading into the season.

Could Winston protect the ball? Would he and Langford be able to provide a scoring punch in the back court? If they couldn’t, would there be someone off the bench that would be able to find a way to chip in?

On Tuesday night, the answer was … not really?

It came against the No. 1 team in the country, yes, and their performance was certainly far from bad, but it wasn’t enough for them to get a win over Duke. They need to be better.

VIDEO: Mike Brey celebrates Maui win shirtless

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Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey celebrated his team’s win in the Maui Invitational by going shirtless in the team locker room:

This came after Brey spent the entire tournament coaching in shorts and a t-shirt:

Mike Brey (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

I think it’s safe to say Brey enjoyed himself on the islands.

No. 13 Notre Dame lands come-from-behind win to beat No. 6 Wichita State in Maui

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Notre Dame led twice during Wednesday night’s Maui Invitational title game.

At 4-2, and, after Martinas Geben hit the second of two free throws with 2.3 seconds left, at 67-66.

That score would end up being the final, as the 13th-ranked Irish erased a 14-point second half deficit to knock off No. 6 Wichita State and bring home that Maui trophy.

Bonzie Colson led the way with 25 points and 11 boards while Matt Farrell chipped in with 15 points, four assists, four boards and three steals. Geben chipped in with 12 points, including those two free throws that served as the eventual game-winners.

Beyond the simple fact that they did it against one of the best teams in the country, what makes this comeback so impressive is that the Irish didn’t rely on a flurry of threes to change the course of the game. This comeback came through grit, toughness defensively and, if we’re being honest, a little bit of luck.

With less than 20 seconds left on the clock and the Irish down by three points, Colson airballed a pretty good look at a three from the top of the key. On the ensuing inbounds, Farrell stole the ball and happened to find Colson under the rim for a layup. The lead was cut to one, and Wichita State proceeded to miss the front end of a one-and-one after being fouled.

The ball once again ended up underneath Notre Dame’s basket, but this time it was the Irish ball, and after a gorgeous inbounds play, Geben headed to the line for two shots. The first shots somehow managed to go down after bouncing off the back of the rim, the backboard and the front of the rim twice.

And with that, Notre Dame would get off of the islands with another quality win for their résumé and a title to their name.

No. 8 Kentucky finally has it easy against Fort Wayne, 86-67

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Nick Richards had career highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds, and 70 percent first-half shooting propelled No. 8 Kentucky to an 86-67 rout of Fort Wayne on Wednesday night.

Kentucky’s 19-of-27 shooting before halftime countered the Mastodons’ eight 3-pointers that kept them close for a while. Once Fort Wayne started missing, it couldn’t match the length or speed of the young Wildcats (5-1), who eventually led 78-48 with 6:50 remaining on the way to their most decisive win this season.

Richards thrived in both halves and on both ends, making 9 of 10 from the field and all seven free throws for his first career double-double. The 6-foot-11 freshman’s previous highs were 10 points against Utah Valley and nine rebounds against Kansas last week.

Quade Green, Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander each added 11 points as Kentucky shot a season-best 33 of 55 (60 percent) and dominated the rebounding 44-21.

Junior guard John Konchar had 19 points and Bryson Scott 18 for Fort Wayne (3-2), who had won three in a row before losing on 40 percent shooting.

BIG PICTURE

Fort Wayne: A year after upsetting Indiana, the Mastodons led Kentucky 37-36 with 3:51 left in the first half behind 8-of-22 shooting from long range. They went cold from outside and elsewhere after that and the Wildcats pounced to lead at the break and stretch the advantage to 30 points in the second half. The Mastodons’ 12 3-pointers were their third-highest total this season.

Kentucky: Something had to give after all those tense performances and the Wildcats thrived because of their size and best shooting effort this season. Richards couldn’t be stopped on either end, and teammates seemed in sync for the first time. Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel came up just short of a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points.

UP NEXT

Kentucky hosts Illinois-Chicago on Sunday to wrap up the Rupp Classic before getting a few days off.

Fort Wayne visits East Tennessee State on Saturday. ETSU lost 78-31 to Kentucky last Friday.

VIDEO: Providence beats Belmont on Kyron Cartwright’s buzzer-beating three

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We got the first wild buzzer-beater of the college basketball season on Wednesday night, as Kyron Cartwright answered a Belmont bucket with 3.7 seconds left by going 94-feet to hit a leaning three at the buzzer:

Providence won the game 65-63.

Cartwright finished with 17 points in the win.

Four Takeaways from N.C. State’s upset win over No. 2 Arizona

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Five games into the Kevin Keatts era and N.C. State already has themselves a signature win.

The Wolfpack upset No. 2 Arizona in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 90-84, sending Sean Miller home without reaching the Final Four once again. Allerik Freeman led the way with 24 points, while Braxton Beverly chipped in with 20 points off the bench and the combination of Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven combined for 21 points and 17 boards.

This wasn’t a fluky win, either.

N.C. State had control throughout. They were up 15-6 before Arizona woke up, they didn’t trail in the first half and they were the ones that made the Wildcats chase them down in the second half. It was quite impressive, as Keatts had this group playing hard and pressing for 40 minutes. It’s been a while since N.C. State fans can say that they’ve seen that.

Here are three things to takeaway from that win.

1. Arizona is going to have some things to figure out on the defensive end of the floor if they want to win a national title: Deandre Ayton is a man amongst boys. In his first college basketball game against competition that actually deserved to be on the same floor as him, Ayton finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, a performance that makes me so damn excited to see just how good Marvin Bagley III, Miles Bridges and players of that ilk are if Ayton does not end up being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

Trier struggled in the first half, but he still managed to put together a 27-point performance, with 24 of those 27 coming in the second half. They put up 84 points. That wasn’t the issue.

The 90 points they allowed was.

Even more concerning was the fact that the Wolfpack scored those 90 points on just 73 possessions. The bottom-line is this: That’s not good enough, not when N.C. State is hardly a contender for the Final Four, let alone a national title challenger.

2. Kevin Keatts is making the most of the talent Mark Gottfried squandered: I’m not sure quite how good the Wolfpack actually are. I don’t think it’s possible to tell this early, even after a win over a team like Arizona. But what is undeniable is the simple fact that this N.C. State team plays are and with most passion and intensity than any Mark Gottfried team did.

They look like they are trying. They look like they care. And frankly, that often matters more than the simple stock-piling of talent. There’s no way anyone could look at this N.C. State roster and think that it has more talent on it than, say, a team with Dennis Smith Jr. or a team with T.J. Warren. The Wolfpack may not have a future lottery pick on this roster. But they do have guys that play their tails off, that play as if they have a point to prove and that play as if they are being coached.

It makes you wonder what could have been had Keatts been in Raleigh last season.

3. Braxton Beverly getting ruled eligible is going to be a big deal for N.C. State: Earlier this fall, Braxton Beverly was one of the biggest stories in college basketball, believe it or not. He had transferred to N.C. State from Ohio State after enrolling in summer courses prior to Thad Matta’s firing. He was ruled ineligible for this season with the Wolfpack, and it turned into the cause celebre for college basketball media members looking to circle the wagons and bash the NCAA.

It took longer than it should have, but Beverly was eventually cleared by the NCAA. He’s eligible to play this season, and he just so happens to be the point guy on the N.C. State press and one of their best shooters. He put up 20 points on the No. 2 team in America. I think he’s going to be relevant this season.

4. Arizona’s point guard issues rose to the forefront: When the Wildcats made their push in the second half, they did it on the strength of hustle plays and transition buckets. Jumping passing lanes and going coast-to-coast. Beating N.C. State’s press and getting a layup. Points that came off of offensive rebounds. Where they struggled was with their half court execution. The question with this team entering the season was with the point guard play. Was Parker Jackson-Cartwright going to be good enough to carry this team to a title? I’m not sure we can truly say we got on answer on Wednesday – N.C. State’s pressure, which was ratcheted up by the fact that Arizona couldn’t get a stop, played more of a role than anything – but Jackson-Cartwright certainly did not put in the kind of performance that would make Arizona fans feel comfortable.