Grayson Allen said he wouldn’t do this anymore. He said it was behind him, that he’d matured.
But an ugly habit reared its head Wednesday night in Duke’s final nonconference game of the season. The junior guard was whistled for a technical foul for tripping Elon’s Steven Santa Ana in the first half of Duke’s 72-61 win over the Phoenix. Visibly irate, Allen took a seat on the bench. He covered his reddened face with a towel as Santa Ana knocked down three of four free throws and cut into Elon’s deficit at the 4:15 mark. Elon trailed by eight but wound up leading by one at the half.
I’m not proud of it at all.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Allen’s actions changed the pace of the game.
“Well, I’m an emotional player to begin with,” said Allen, fighting back tears from the visiting locker room at the Greensboro Coliseum.
He paused before he addressed a huddle of media surrounding his locker.
“I made a really bad play,” Allen said. “I’m sorry to him, Santa Ana, sorry to the officials that had to call that, sorry to my team. It was selfish and taking away from them. I’m not proud of it at all.”
Allen in February tripped two opponents, and Wednesday marked his third time. A starter against Elon, Allen came off the bench in the second half and immediately picked up his third foul. Fellow guard Luke Kennard also had three fouls at the time.
Allen finished with three points, on a night when freshman Jayson Tatum had his way. Tatum had 18 points, and Kennard had a game leading 21.
After the game, Allen met with Santa Ana, Krzyzewski and Elon coach Matt Mathney in the coaches area near the locker rooms. Krzyzewski said Allen issued an apology.
“What Grayson did was unacceptable,” the Duke coach said. “That’s not something you should do. He (Allen) got punished.”
Krzyzewski added that he’s handled Allen’s tripping incidents correctly.
“I’m a teacher and a coach, and I responsible for that kid. I know him better than anybody,” he said. “To think that it’s the last thing that’s said about it to him is wrong.
“He’s a good kid, and that was a bad thing he did tonight. He can’t believe that he did that.”
Elon stayed afloat with a 9-0 run capped by a Brian Dawkins 3-pointer. Elon shot 50 percent from deep in the first half, while Duke (12-1) went 21.4 percent from that area.
The Blue Devils trailed by one, 35-34 at the break, even after just one turnover to Elon’s nine. The Phoenix slightly outrebounded the Blue Devils (24-23) in the first half, when Jones led with four steals.
Freshman Harry Giles’ first college point came off a free throw. He played six minutes, going 0-2 from the floor with a point, two rebounds and a block, which came during Duke’s second-half rally.
Duke opens its ACC season on New Year’s Eve at Virginia Tech.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan