Grayson Allen scored 15 of his 21 points in the final seven minutes and added six boards and six assists as No. 21 Duke picked up a 72-64win over Pitt in Mike Krzyzewski’s first game back as the head coach of the Blue Devils.
Coach K had been out for four weeks recovering from surgery on his back, and Duke had gone just 4-3 in his absence.
They had, however, won their last two games before Coach K’s return, with one of the changes to the lineup being an emphasis on playing small-ball. Jayson Tatum started for the third straight game at the four on Saturday, finishing with 12 points, six boards and a pair of assists, and Frank Jackson got the start at the point, moving Allen and Luke Kennard off the ball.
The best player on the floor for the Blue Devils on Saturday was Amile Jefferson, who finished with 15 points, nine boards and five blocks. He anchored the lane against one of the biggest teams in the ACC. Pitt essentially plays a lineup with five forwards on the floor, and Jefferson’s ability to hold his on in the paint is one of the reasons that Duke was able to limit the Panthers to just nine offensive rebounds.
Once again Harry Giles III played limited minuted for the Blue Devils. He had five points in the first half – a 19-foot jumper and an emphatic, poster-dunk on an alley-oop – but his struggles defensively and on the glass combined with the fact that Jefferson is too important to take off the floor and Duke’s desire to play with Tatum at the four means that he ends up being the odd-man out.
It looks like this is going to be the lineup that the Blue Devils run out there the rest of the season, and the best news may actually be that this group finally looks like they’re coming together.