When Duke played at Pitt in Pittsburgh 10 days ago, the Panthers had no answer for the Blue Devils.
On Saturday, at Cameron Indoor Stadium, this one was much of the same. Three of Duke’s top four freshman had 16 or more points. Its lone senior had 16 of his own, and the Blue Devils won 81-54.
Since losing to N.C. State on Jan. 6, Duke (17-2, 5-2 ACC) has won four straight conference games. The Blue Devils also sit tied for third in the conference with North Carolina.
No. 5 Duke raced out to a 22-point halftime lead.
The Blue Devils built their lead by forcing turnovers and scoring off those turnovers.
Pitt (8-12, 0-7 ACC) shot 50 percent through the first 20 minutes but also turned the ball over 11 times. Duke utilized a full-court press throughout most of the game. The Blue Devils forced the Panthers to three 10-second violations after the Panthers couldn’t get the ball out of the backcourt in time.
Before halftime, Duke freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. blocked Pitt forward Kene Chukwuka’s shot. Duke called a timeout with 19 seconds left. The play went to freshman guard Gary Trent Jr., who missed the initial shot. But when Duke senior guard Grayson Allen rebounded the basketball, he passed it to Carter, who then passed it to Trent for a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Trent finished with 17 points. He was 5-for-7 from behind the 3-point line.
Pitt was overmatched on Saturday. It’s hard enough to stop freshman forward Marvin Bagley III, who had 20 points and seven rebounds. But when you have to worry about Carter too, that’s a problem. Carter was dominant on both sides of the floor. He blocked shots and found success inside and from outside.
Carter finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. He also had two steals.
Allen, who has been off from the 3-point line, found a rhythm in the second half on Saturday. He hit two straight 3-pointers in a one-minute span midway through the second half. He finished the game shooting 4-for-10 from behind the 3-point line, after going 3-for-17 in the previous three games. He had 16 points.
The Blue Devils will next play at Wake Forest on Jan. 23.