Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski needed to make some changes Sunday.
The starting lineup needed a shakeup with star freshman Marvin Bagley III sidelined because of a mild right knee sprain. And the No. 9 Blue Devils as a whole needed one, too, after losing three of four and two straight.
With Grayson Allen taking over at point guard and Marques Bolden making his first start, Duke jumped out to a 26-point lead before holding on for an 80-69 win over struggling Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Bagley, the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder, has carried the Blue Devils (20-5, 8-4 ACC) to this point in the season.
However, with the big man held out for precaution, Allen rediscovered his shooting touch and scored 23 points — and helped hold off a second-half charge by the Yellow Jackets (11-14, 4-8).
Duke freshman Wendell Carter Jr. added 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks, showing he can control the paint by himself.
Grayson Allen’s re-emergence
All Allen needed to break out of his recent slump was Bagley on the sideline. He also thrived while running the offense from the point.
Allen scored 10 of Duke’s first 16 points and shot with more confidence. He still didn’t shoot all that great, though (while he made all 10 of his free throws, he was just 5 of 14 from the floor).
But he showed his versatility and ability to lead. It allowed freshman point guard Trevon Duval to come off the bench.
Rather than looking tentative or out of sync, Allen appeared determined to give the Blue Devils a much-needed scorer. He made 4 of his 7 shots in the first half, including a pair of 3-pointers. He finished 3 for 10 on 3-pointers.
Allen was more than just a scorer, though. He dished out 6 assists and grabbed 4 rebounds to cap a solid all-around performance.
Controlling the paint
The Blue Devils have more big men than just Bagley. Carter and Bolden made sure to show that.
Not having to share the paint with Bagley, Carter established himself around the basket and made life hard on Georgia Tech in his return to his hometown. The star freshman scored 10 of his 19 points in the first half, including a stretch in which he scored 6 in a row.
Carter was also forceful on defense. He helped hold the Yellow Jackets to 26 points in the first half and shoot just 33.3 percent for the game, including 7 of 27 on 3-pointers.
Bolden, meanwhile, made his first start in Bagley’s place. The 6-foot-11 sophomore held his own with 8 points and 6 rebounds.
Heading into Sunday, Bolden was averaging only 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. But he was more aggressive as a starter, scoring the first basket of the game with a jump hook.
Duke has the talent to get off to fast starts, though it doesn’t always happen.
The Blue Devils went on the attack to open the game and then coming out of the locker room to start the second half.
Allen hit a runner in the paint and then a 3-pointer as Duke scored the first 9 points of the game. Georgia Tech never recovered, and any hopes it had of pulling off the upset were quickly squashed.
Rather than taking it easy after building a 43-26 halftime lead, the Blue Devils scored the first 8 points of the second half to extend their lead to 25.
During that stretch, Allen and Gary Trent Jr. drained 3-pointers and Carter threw down another dunk.
Georgia Tech did come back in the second half, using a 15-2 run to cut Duke’s lead to 65-53. But the Yellow Jackets didn’t have enough energy down the stretch to make up for their poor start.
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