It was a throwaway play at the end of a no longer competitive game – until Grayson Allen stuck out his left leg.
With 3.4 seconds left in Duke’s 80-65 win over Florida State, Allen tripped Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Nothing happened in the moment, but the ACC office issued a reprimand to Allen Friday afternoon. No additional punishment came with the reprimand, which acknowledged that Allen tripped Rathan-Mayes, and associate commissioner Brian Morrison said in the statement that the matter was closed.
When asked directly about his entanglement with Rathan-Mayes after the game, Allen downplayed its significance.
“He wanted to keep playing physical, so I tried to walk away from it as he was grabbing me,” Allen said. “We ended up tangling up and falling. It was really nothing.”
The ACC disagreed.
This is the second time this month that Allen has tripped an opponent. In Duke’s Feb. 8 win over Louisville, Allen was assessed a flagrant foul for tripping Ray Spalding. Allen had driven to the basket and fallen without getting a foul call, and he stuck his leg out as Spalding turned to go up the court.
“I’m going to be just as physical with that person as they are being with me,” Allen said.
“It’s just instinct”
There was a build-up to the Rathan-Mayes trip, too.
With 18.5 seconds left, Allen dove at Rathan-Mayes, as he had a loose handle on the ball at the top of the key. Luke Kennard came up with the steal.
“I mean, it’s just instinct,” Allen said. “If I see a loose ball bouncing around, I’m going to go dive for it. I can’t really shut it off whether it’s 15 seconds into the game or 15 seconds left.”
Kennard passed it back to Allen with about 13 seconds left, and Allen and Rathan-Mayes exchanged a few subtle stiff arms and elbows. Allen passed the ball away, and then with 3.4 seconds left, as Rathan-Mayes turned to go up the floor, Allen stuck his left leg out behind him, tripping Rathan-Mayes.
Referee Tony Greene watched the play unfold in front of him and did not blow his whistle. Play had stopped as Florida State’s Devon Bookert had knocked the ball away from Matt Jones and out of bounds on the other side of the floor.
After Rathan-Mayes was on the ground, Greene came over and talked to both Allen and Rathan-Mayes, giving them both a pat on the lower back.
Greene and Allen had a dialogue all game. After a second-half lay-up, he motioned and yelled “and one,” in Greene’s direction, insinuating there should have been a foul call. Later in the half, Marshall Plumlee shoved Allen away from Greene after an extended conversation had gone on long enough in the big man’s mind.
“A very emotional guy”
Allen was asked how he felt he was handling himself given the constant contact.
“I think I’m handling it pretty well,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a very emotional guy, I think everyone knows that on the court. There are a lot of times where I let that out. I think I would have a few more technicals if I wasn’t controlling it well.”
Allen has one technical on the year, which was called after he fouled out on a charge call at Louisville. Punching the air, Allen used obscenities to voice his disagreement. Earlier in the game, Allen and Louisville’s Jaylen Johnson were involved in a loose ball scrum that resulted in a bloody mouth for Allen and a technical for Johnson. Allen again downplayed the significance and wrote it off as just a stray elbow. Johnson disagreed.
“I felt that he hit me,” Johnson said of Allen to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier Journal. “I thought he gave me a cheap shot. It was just impulse. It was in the heat of the moment.”
“(Louisville coach Rick Pitino) said the official said (Allen) didn’t hit me. I wouldn’t have retaliated – I wouldn’t have even gotten mad – if he didn’t hit me, but I guess they saw what happened and I reacted different.”
There certainly isn’t a more polarizing player in the ACC than Allen right now. Even his highlights – a last-second, buzzer-beating 8-foot bank shot to beat Virginia – come with controversy attached (he was either fouled, traveled or both, depending on the opinion). And he certainly isn’t helping himself with unnecessary trips at the end of already-decided games.
Allen is polite and generally soft-spoken with the media after games, quick to smile and laugh. But that persona doesn’t match up his on-court actions or even, at times, his words.
“I’m not going to take anything from anyone,” Allen said. “Whatever someone is dishing out to me inside the game, inside the rules of the game, I’m going to give it right back.”