Duke Basketball: Blue Devils Explode in 2nd Half to Take Down Carolina

DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates with Grayson Allen
DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates with Grayson Allen /

The comeback kids did it again! Duke erased a 10 point halftime deficit to stun North Carolina 74-64.

Oh my goodness, where to begin. Well, let’s start with the obvious. This was Grayson Allen’s last home game of his Duke career. It was supposed to be his farewell to Duke Nation and he was going to ride off into the sunset and get ready for the postseason.

Then the first half started.

Duke was atrocious in the first half. They had no ball movement, they were stagnant on offense, Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. were in foul trouble, and they couldn’t stop anybody.

The best player on Duke in the first half was probably Marques Bolden. Now that isn’t a knock on Bolden that was just how bad Duke was in the first half.

Oh, and by the way, Duke missed 10, yes 10, free throws in the first half. It doesn’t matter who you play, you can’t expect to beat a good team when you miss 10 free throws in a half.

To start the second half they weren’t much better. At the 16:56 mark Cam Johnson hit a three-pointer to extend the Carolina lead to 13 at 42-29.

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After the teams traded some turnover, with some baskets mixed in, Trevon Duval stepped into a three-pointer at the top of the arc and drained it.

That was the turning point of the game.

From that moment on it was all Duke. The Blue Devils outscored Carolina 36-18 after that shot.

Bagley was special in the 2nd half. He finished with 21 and 15 which was most likely his last game in Cameron too.

Right behind him was the senior captain who was a stat sheet stuffer with 15 points, and 5 rebounds, assists, and steals.

Gary Trent Jr. came alive in the second half as he finished with 13 points. After coming out of the gates scorching to start ACC play, Trent Jr. was ice cold in his last 3 games but caught fire again in the second half.

However, the player that changed the game, Trevon Duval. Duval was absolutely sensational tonight. He finished with 7 points and 6 assists, but his decision making was tremendous. He was able to get into the paint and distribute the ball to either Allen or Trent on the wings or find Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. open on the low block.

This is the Trevon Duval Duke needs if they want to make a run into early April.

There is no better team in the country than the Duke team that took the floor in the second half in Cameron. If they play with that spacing and movement on offense and that activity on defense and on the glass. No one can beat them.

But that poses the question, can they play that way for 40 minutes. We really haven’t seen it yet, but boy would it be a good time to play like that next week and beyond.

After going off for 21 points last month on Duke, the Blue Devils held Joel Berry to only 6 points on 3-11 shooting.

The biggest concerns coming out of this game for Duke was their corner three defense, and their free throw shooting.

Kenny Williams seemed to be open in the corner all night and it is up to Bagley and Trent who play down low in the zone to get out and defend once the ball gets swung into the corner.

As for the foul shooting, Duke was 4-14 going into halftime, they finished the game 9-20. Obviously not a good mark at 45% but they did improve dramatically in the second half.

Duke will now head to Brooklyn for the ACC Tournament as the #2 seed. The Blue Devils won’t take the court again until Thursday night at 7 pm, but who they will play remains to be seen.

It will most likely be against either Notre Dame or Virginia Tech, as Virginia Tech has the bye until Wednesday and Notre Dame has to play Pittsburgh on Tuesday, who has not won an ACC game this year.

This was a great game for Duke to regain their confidence and their swagger but there is still work to be done, and it all starts on Thursday.