For the third consecutive game, Duke struggled to contain an opposing team’s offense, and trailed late in the game.
This time, it was against Indiana, coached by Archie Miller, at the historic Assembly Hall late Wednesday night for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The only difference was Duke didn’t trail at halftime. It led by four. But like the previous two games, after being down late in the game, Duke battled back and somehow remained victorious, winning 91-81.
“We are exhausted,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “They have such a will to win. This is our ninth game in 20 days. Ten of those days we’ve been on the road and five road games and they’re dead right now. They certainly played those five minutes at the end with an incredible will to win.”
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Duke (9-0) has dominated in the ACC/Big Ten challenge. It now holds a 17-2 record in the Challenge’s 19 years.
This game wasn’t expected to be close, even with the venue being one of the loudest in the country. Indiana (4-3) had lost to Indiana State in its home opener by 22 points.
Duke trailed at halftime in all three of its games at the PK80 tournament, last week. In two of those games, against Texas and then No. 7 Florida, it trailed late in the second half by 16 and 17 points and eventually came roaring back.
That wasn’t quite the case here. The game was close, and both teams matched each other shot for shot in the first half. But Duke took a slight lead, and led by four points at halftime. The second half stayed close and Indiana battled to the end.
Bagley, who won MVP of the Motion Bracket in the PK80 tournament, had 23 points and 10 rebounds.
It was Duke’s first true road game, and only the second time Duke had played at Assembly Hall. The first time was in November 2006, when Duke beat Indiana 75-67.
Assembly Hall was loud and it didn’t hold back. Every time Grayson Allen made a mistake or went to the free throw line, the student section booed and heckled him, sometimes yelling expletives. And when he made a tough basket, they groaned. Allen has been a player opposing fans love to boo, especially after his tripping incidents last season.
Allen’s biggest shot came with 3:57 left in the game. He caught the ball at the wing, pump faked and got his defender to jump in the air, then stepped behind the 3-point line to hit shot. It put Duke up by four points.
Krzyzewski said that was the biggest shot of the game.
“That was something that he’s done for four years and hopefully he’ll continue to do that,” he said.
Allen finished the game with 21 points and was 7-for-12 from the floor.
Twice, late in the second half, Indiana led by four points. But Duke would find a way to answer. Indiana had an opportunity to take the lead, with the game tied and a player on the free throw line with a little less than five minutes left to play. However, the Hoosiers missed both free throws.
Freshman point guard Trevon Duval found freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. for a layup and a foul. That bucket gave Duke the lead for good.