Behind a big effort from sophomore guard Grayson Allen, No. 5 Duke rallied for an 86-84 win over Georgetown on Sunday afternoon in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Continuing a great weekend following a poor outing against Kentucky, Allen finished with 32 points, five rebounds and four assists as he also went 5-for-6 from 3-point range. On the weekend in the 2K Classic, Allen went for 62 total points as he scored at least 30 points in both Duke wins.
The Blue Devils found themselves in foul trouble in the first half and trailed 47-42 at the break before the defense turned it around in the second half. With senior center Marshall Plumlee picking up three first-half fouls, the Duke defense was once again susceptible to giving up open looks as they had poor rotations and didn’t cover a lot of ground.
Things improved in the second half, with or without Plumlee on the floor, as the Blue Devils closed on shots more aggressively as Georgetown went cold. For the second consecutive game, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski changed things up in the starting lineup as freshman Brandon Ingram found himself coming off the bench in favor of freshman point guard Derryck Thornton.
Georgetown (1-3) used a big first half from Isaac Copeland (21 points) as they were the aggressor early in the game. But the Hoyas went cold in the second half and settled for a lot of looks that didn’t fall in the final 20 minutes. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Kaleb Johnson both chipped in 14 points for Georgetown while L.J. Peak scored 13 points. Copeland got hot again in the game’s final minutes, burying two 3-pointers to keep the Hoyas within striking distance, but he missed a contested 30-footer as the clock expired to end the game.
Coming off of the poor outing against Kentucky, it was very encouraging to see Allen have two monster outings against solid competition. If Allen is consistent scoring the ball, it allows Plumlee and senior forward Amile Jefferson to focus on the little things like crashing the glass and getting putbacks while Thornton also adjusts to running the Duke offense as a starter. A big part of that is Allen hitting outside shots. If he’s hitting 3-pointers, it forces defenders to play him to the line and Allen can attack the rim and finish or draw fouls. But if Allen’s jumper isn’t falling, he could have some problems attacking the basket since he has some problems going to his left.
Thornton continues to look more confident each time he takes the floor as he finished with 14 points and he wasn’t afraid to take free throws to close out the win. Even though Thornton missed two free throws that gave Georgetown a shot at the win, the last three times Georgetown was forced to foul, the ball found Thornton and he refused to pass up the chance to take the shots.
Matt Jones finished with 11 points for Duke while Jefferson had eight points and eight rebounds.