Duke basketball continues dominance over mid-major program

Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Paolo Banchero (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

It was a memorable night for the Duke basketball program in Vegas. 

It was just another night for the Duke basketball program as the Blue Devils continued their dominance over another mid-major team on a neutral floor in Las Vegas.

Alright, we are joking, but we must use a Mike Krzyzewski saying to describe that basketball game: “Holy Mackerel.”

I’ll personalize the description of that game: “Holy Smokes.”

I’d be using something a stronger word, but this is a PG website.

No. 5 Duke (7-0) broke the 36-game regular-season win streak of No. 1 Gonzaga (6-1) on Friday night in Las Vegas, 84-81.

The ‘Zags had previously dumped No. 5 Texas and No. 2 UCLA, as recently as this week, to solidify their top ranking before the Blue Devils landed in Sin City.

Not only was the game billed as the matchup between two top teams in the country, but it was also a battle between the presumptive top two picks in this summer’s NBA Draft, Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga).

Banchero made his presence known early and often with 20 points in the first half as Holmgren sat on the bench with two early fouls.

However, roles were reversed in the second half as Banchero only scored one point, due to being in the locker room with cramping once again, as Holmgren tried to get Gonzaga to the finish line.

The Bulldogs superstar finished with 16 points and seven rebounds while Gonzaga’s reigning All-American big man, Drew Timme, finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists as he also battled foul issues.

Gonzaga’s leading scorer was the hometown sophomore Julian Strawther, who ended the night with a season-high 20 points. But it was not enough to down the 21 points from Banchero and 20 points from junior captain Wendell Moore.

Banchero, Moore, and Mark Williams combined to form the Big 3 for Duke as the sophomore center finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks on 8-of-9 shooting.

Duke basketball battles the entire way with top-ranked Gonzaga

The Blue Devils secured the lead with 17:30 left in the first half on a 3-pointer from Trevor Keels, his only make from deep in the game.

Duke never surrender its lead until the 16:58 mark of the second half, and the Blue Devils quickly took their lead back until 13:45 left in the game.

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The two teams traded clutch baskets and tough defensive stops until Wendell Moore gave Duke the lead back again with 4:30 left in regulation.

Sophomore point guard Jeremy Roach saved his best for last as he was just 3-of-13 from the floor, but his final field goal would put the Blue Devils up by three, 80-77, with 48 seconds remaining in the game.

Duke is now 4-1 against Gonzaga in the all-time series history.

The postgame celebrations for Duke were bountiful, but the Blue Devils will need a similar performance in their first true road game of the season against the Ohio State Buckeyes (4-2) in the ACC vs. Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night (9:30 p.m., ESPN).

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