Duke blows out Gardner-Webb under cloud of legal issues

Paolo Banchero played but Michael Savarino was not on the bench after both were charged on Sunday

Duke forward Paolo Banchero (5) looks to shoot as Gardner-Webb forward Kareem Reid (14) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

After dealing with off-court problems all day, Duke took care of business on the court, beating Gardner-Webb 92-52 on Tuesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Two Duke players — freshman star Paolo Banchero and redshirt sophomore Michael Savarino — are facing charges after a DWI traffic stop early Sunday morning, a news story that broke earlier on Tuesday. Savarino is the grandson of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

While both players were charged based on the same incident, Savarino faces more serious charges since he was the driver and both over the legal limit and underage. Banchero, a passenger in the vehicle, faces charges of aiding and abetting driving under the influence.

“We had a violation of our standards and we’ll handle that internally,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re already handling it, but it’s a violation of our standards.”

The two players apparently are not receiving the same penalties from the basketball program. Banchero started Tuesday’s game and played 26 minutes, second-most on the team. He scored 10 points with eight rebounds.

Savarino was not on the Duke bench for the game. No information on his status was given.

“It’s two entirely different situations,” Krzyzewski said. “Headlines might make it look like it’s the same, but it’s not. The decisions we made are in conjunction with our authorities and my superiors. We’re taking action and will continue to take action.”

Perhaps distracted by the legal issues, Duke started slow. The Blue Devils trailed Gardner-Webb, who fell to 0-3 on the year, early in the first half. Duke went on a 17-4 run and led by 20 at the half, putting the game out of reach with an 11-0 run early in the second half.

“t was a huge relief (to take the court),” said freshman Trevor Keels, who hit four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 18. “There’s a lot of stuff going on outside that locker room, but we tried to focus on just the game. We did a good job preparing for the game, just focusing on the game, and we took care of business.”

Keenan Worthington, who joined Duke as a walk-on in 2019 — the same time as Savarino — played the final three minutes.

“We just focused on this game and we got the win,” Keels said. “We didn’t really care about the outside noise at all.”

Lance Terry led the Bulldogs with 15 points, and Kareem Reid added 14 points and five assists.