Duke freshmen live up to hype in impressive debut

Marvin Bagley and his young teammates stole the show while senior Grayson Allen earns redemption in season-opening victory against Elon

Marvin Bagley III shoots over Elon's Tyler Seibring during Friday's season-opening win at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

DURHAM — Duke‘s freshmen lived up to the hype in the first game.

The team’s lone senior didn’t disappoint either.


Marvin Bagley III scored 25 points in his collegiate debut and Grayson Allen added 22 in a rematch of a game that caused him great anguish last year as top-ranked Duke drubbed visiting Elon 97-68 to open the season Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“I didn’t think they looked nervous,” Allen said of the freshmen. “They all did what they do best. … Marvin was everywhere like he always is.”

Allen, a senior guard who scored 19 first-half points, was joined in the starting lineup by freshmen Bagley, Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval.

“I’m still learning a lot every single day and trying to get better,” Bagley said.

The freshmen helped put on a show for the Blue Devils, but Allen thrived from the beginning. He had five 3-point baskets in the first half.

When these teams met last December at Greensboro Coliseum, Allen’s trip of Elon’s Steven Santa Ana resulted in a suspension for Duke‘s next game. It also put Allen under heightened scrutiny for the rest of the season after a couple of tripping incidents in his sophomore campaign.

There were few glitches this time for Allen, who scored eight points during Duke‘s opening 15-3 burst on the way to a 45-25 halftime lead. The Blue Devils scored the first nine points of the second half.

Bagley, a forward, made 12 of 18 shots. His first basket didn’t come until he converted off a rebound to make it 20-3. Trent poured in 17 points.

“It’s unbelievable,” Trent said of starting his collegiate career. “Just the excitement of being out there. Now it’s time to go to a whole other level.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski liked what he saw from the way his team began, but he also seems just as excited about what could come as the group continues to mesh.

“They want to learn,” Krzyzewski said of the newcomers. “When we point something out, they work at it.”

The Blue Devils, who boost a revamped lineup with a strong interior presence, took advantage of the size for a 48-30 rebounding advantage.

“We should be a good rebounding team when you have all those big guys,” Krzyzewski said.

Dmitri Thompson led Elon with 13 points, while Tyler Seibring and Dainan Swoope each scored 11.

The Phoenix didn’t get untracked, and that’s something that might take time.

“We run an equal-opportunity motion offense,” Elon coach Matt Matheny said. “I think our offense is at its best when we have several guys on the floor that can score double figures.”

Elon made only two of its first 14 shots. The Phoenix were 9-for-31 in the first half, with five baskets from long range.

It wasn’t an ideal opener, but Elon could grow from this experience.

“We’re not there yet, but we have a chance (to be good),” Matheny said. “We need to shoot the ball (well) at multiple positions.”

NOTES: Since 1998, this was Duke‘s 150th game while holding the No. 1 national ranking. That’s 70 more games than the next-closest team (Kentucky) during that period. … Duke has won 133 consecutive home games against nonconference opponents, a span that stretches more than 17 years. … Duke sophomore C Marques Bolden didn’t play because of illness.