Duke Basketball: Blue Devils Comeback Attempt Falls Short in Brooklyn

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Grayson Allen
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Grayson Allen /

After playing as bad as you could play, the Duke Blue Devils had a shot to stun the North Carolina Tar Heels, but Grayson Allen wanted to play hero ball instead.

Down 16-3 seven minutes into the game, Duke looked tired and lethargic, like this was their third game in three days. North Carolina looked energetic and aggressive like it was only their second game in as many days.

It was only Duke’s second game and Carolina’s third, but Duke was in a hole since the beginning.

However, Duke came back to take a 27-26 lead with 3 minutes left in the first half.

That would be the last time Duke had the lead all game.

We had another Grayson Allen controversy when he hip-checked Garrison Brooks running back up the floor. Allen was assessed with a Flagrant 1.

Now was this an actual flagrant foul? No, but due to Allen’s history, he is not going to get the benefit of the doubt.

The Heels took a seven-point lead after the Brooks free throws, but Duke had it to three before they let Joel Berry race the length of the floor to drop a pass off to Cam Johnson for an easy bucket.

Berry plowed over Javin DeLaurier but no charge was called and the Heels went into the break up 5.

All things considered for Duke, a 5 point halftime deficit wasn’t the worst thing in the world. They just had to tighten up the zone, crash the defensive backboards, and stop turning the ball over.

They did none.

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Carolina went into the half with 9 offensive rebounds, they finished with 21.

At least on three separate occasions, Duke allowed Carolina to grab three offensive rebounds, and that was really the difference in the game.

Duke wouldn’t go down without a fight, and a little help from Theo Pinson.

Down 72-56 with 5:13 left, Duke would only allow Carolina to score two more points, but it wasn’t enough for Duke to complete the comeback.

The Blue Devils had the Heels lead down to three with the ball but after passing up on an open three-point look, Grayson Allen decided to drive to the cup but Kenny Williams was right there to take the charge.

Duke did not foul immediately and forced Pinson to travel.

It was now Duke ball with just over 11 seconds left.

Duke inbounded the ball to Allen, Allen went to the left wing and tried to draw a foul on Luke Maye while he was shooting. Allen took the shot with about six seconds left on the clock, and it wasn’t even close.

Theo Pinson grabbed the rebound and went to the foul line to send the Tar Heels to the ACC Championship.

For how bad Duke played all night, they still had a chance to win, but Grayson Allen wanted to be the hero instead of deferring to the hot Gray Trent Jr.

It was eerily similar to the loss vs St. John’s when Allen decided to take the last second heave instead of finding Trent Jr.

Despite the poor performance, Duke has some injury concerns.

Wendell Carter Jr. came into the game with a foot problem. He said that he would not make excuses, but the foot seemed to be bothering him because he had a handful of attempts to convert through contact for an and-1, but he could not finish.

Trevon Duval also went down early with an ankle injury, but he later returned. To put it frankly, Duval was terrible in this game and maybe his ankle had something to do with it.

Only four players scored for Duke; Allen, Trent, Marvin Bagley, and Carter. That isn’t good.

Not only was it not good, only six Blue Devils recorded a shot attempt, the four mentioned plus Duval and Alex O’Connell.

While this loss stings because the nature of which Duke lost and who they lost to, the big picture must remain in focus, and that is playing on that first Monday in April.

If not playing in the ACC Championship gets Duval and Carter fully healthy, then sign me up for it.

Remeber, winning the ACC Title does not equal winning the National Championship. The winner of the ACC Championship has not made the Final Four since 2010.

Duke lost in the ACC Semifinals in 2015, North Carolina lost in the ACC Semis last season. Both teams won the National Championship.

Maybe the extra days of rest are beneficial and it will allow Duke to look at flaws and correct them.  It seemed to work with the 2015 team, we can only hope for the same results with this team.

Until then, we will have to wait for Sunday night when the NCAA Bracket is revealed.