Duke basketball rides freshman’s clutch gene to finish line in Louisville

Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward AJ Griffin (Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team rode a freshman forward to the finish line in Louisville. 

Road games are extremely difficult to win in college basketball, and the Duke basketball program learned that once again on Saturday afternoon in Louisville.

After a tumultuous week for the Cardinals that saw the program dismiss head coach Chris Mack, Louisville (11-10, 5-6 ACC) looked like it would roll over and be dismantled by Duke.

The No. 9 Blue Devils (17-3, 7-2 ACC) stormed out of the gates to lead by as many as 16 points in the first half before the Cards began to chip away. It looked like Duke would only take a two-point advantage into the locker room before AJ Griffin drilled a prayer with 0.6 seconds left in the half to give the visitors a 40-35 lead at the break.

It would not be the only clutch shot Griffin hit on the day.

The two teams went back-and-forth in the second half as Duke could not get a comfortable lead, but Louisville could not grab a lead.

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Griffin would put the game away with under five minutes to play with back-to-back 3-pointers, which put the Blue Devils up by eight, 68-60.

The buckets were in the midst of a 12-0 run for Duke as the game was punctuated by a professional fadeaway jumper from Paolo Banchero and a monster dunk from Mark Williams.

Griffin ended the game by matching a career-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and making all five of his 3-point attempts.

Banchero, Williams, and Wendell Moore were the other players in double figures as the trio combined for 35 points. Meanwhile, Jeremy Roach continued to show poise in running the offense with nine points, four rebounds, and five assists.

Duke basketball gets road trip off to perfect start

Saturday was the first of three straight on the road for the Blue Devils and the beginning of a stretch in which the team will play five of its next six games away from Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke will next head to South Bend, Indiana on January 31 to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a game that was rescheduled due to health and safety protocols on January 1.

Tipoff between the Blue Devils and the Irish is at 7:00 p.m. (ESPN).

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