BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Duke had to switch heroes midway through its 88-70 win over Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals. Luckily, the Blue Devils had more than enough candidates.
Grayson Allen opened the game on a record pace, hitting four 3-pointers in the first 7:15 of the game, including three in a 51-second stretch. Duke, playing its first game in five days, decided to push the pace against a Notre Dame team playing its third game in as many days, putting up 25 points before the first time out.
“You know, it was important for our team, especially in a tournament like this,” Allen said. “You’re playing in a new gym with a new ball, and it’s really good for all our guys to see some shots go in, especially early on.”
Then Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey made some adjustments on defense to make sure Allen didn’t continue to bomb away.
“He came out as hot as a player could come out,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “hitting shots. Then the nature of the game changed, and he didn’t force anything.”
Allen finished with 23 points and hit five-of-six 3-pointers. That was the fourth most threes by a Blue Devil in ACC Tournament history, and Allen tied his own school record for long range accuracy in the tournament.
With Notre Dame taking away the perimeter, Allen and Duke shifted their focus inside to freshman Marvin Bagley III.
“Get it to Marvin and let him take over,” Allen said. “It’s a pretty easy thing to do, but when he gets the easy looks like he does, that’s where he can use a lot of the different skills he has. He can jump up. He can go right and left and just be that freak athlete.”
After Allen opened the game looking like he was going to have the game of his lifetime, Bagley’s performance resulted in one of the greatest ACC Tournament performances in Duke history.
“When you see Grayson say, ‘OK, (Bagley’s) got it right now,’ and go to him, that’s terrific,” Krzyzewski said.
Bagley dominated the second half, hitting 11 of his 12 shots. For the game, Bagley was 15 of 23 for 33 points. He broke Bob Verga’s 51-year-old school record for made shots in the ACC Tournament and came within two points of matching Verga’s single-game tournament scoring record. Bagley added 17 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season.
“I don’t really worry about records,” Bagley said. “This is bigger than that. It’s about the team. We’ve got a bigger goal. It’s nice to have that along the way, but it’s not what I’m worried about. We’ve got our minds on one thing.”
Freshman point guard Trevon Duval also threatened the ACC Tournament record book, dishing out 11 assists, second most in Duke tourney history.
“It was a great team win,” Bagley said.
The news from the game wasn’t all positive. Freshman big man Wendell Carter Jr. struggled with foul trouble all night and scored just four points, going 1-for-6 from the field in 17 minutes.
“Carter has got an injury problem with his foot,” Krzyzewski said. “He didn’t practice this week, and he played gingerly tonight. We’ll see about tomorrow. We just have to be really careful. He did not play at the level, because he’s not physically at that level.”