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Why Duke ‘can still be successful’ without Marvin Bagley III

When will Marvin Bagley III return to Duke's line-up?

Blue Devils' coach Mike Krzyzewski discussed Bagley, who suffered a right knee sprain on Feb. 8, and has missed two games since the injury.
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Blue Devils' coach Mike Krzyzewski discussed Bagley, who suffered a right knee sprain on Feb. 8, and has missed two games since the injury.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said integrating Marvin Bagley III back into an offense that seems to be thriving without him is a good problem to have.

Bagley suffered a right knee sprain during Duke’s game at UNC on Feb. 8 and has missed the last two games, an 80-69 win at Georgia Tech on Feb. 11 and a 74-52 win at home against Virginia Tech on Wednesday.

Without the star freshman forward, other players have had to step up.

The ball seemed to spread around with ease against Virginia Tech, and Duke played probably its most complete game of the season. Duke beat Virginia Tech 74-52. Senior guard Grayson Allen, who scored 25 points, and freshman guard Gary Trent Jr., who scored 19 points, combined to shoot 12-for-24 from behind the 3-point line.

Krzyzewski said his team won’t have a problem bringing Bagley back into the offense because he is an “unselfish player.”

Bagley averages 21.2 points per game and 11.4 rebounds. He leads the team in both categories.

“Marvin is getting better, but you just got to be careful,” Krzyzewski said of his injury. “That’s what we’re trying to be. And he is trying to be.

“But it’s really good performances, because the team could – look, he’s been pretty good for us. He’s averaging a high double-double and all of a sudden it’s not there. But we’ve had a chance to look at some other things now, and when he comes back, hopefully we have a chance to be a better team.

“Hopefully he’ll be back soon.”

Duke senior Grayson Allen, who scored 25 points, called it a complete-game victory after the Blue Devils routed Virginia Tech 74-52 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 14, 2018.

Krzyzewski said one area he’s been able to examine without Bagley is the team’s depth. Sophomore center Marques Bolden has played well since his return from an MCL sprain, and sophomore forward Javin DeLaurier also had a good game against Virginia Tech with 7 points and 4 rebounds.

A few hours before the game, Bagley put up jump shots and free throws with the team managers.

No. 12 Duke (21-5, 9-4) plays at No. 11 Clemson (20-5, 9-4) on Sunday. The winner of that game will take sole possession of second place in the ACC behind No. 1 Virginia.

Freshman guard Gary Trent Jr. said the game against Virginia Tech showed how talented Duke’s players are.

“Marvin’s a great player, and we’d love to have him,” Trent said. “But I feel like we can still win, depending on how long his injury is, I feel like we can still be successful.”

Jonathan M. Alexander: 919-829-4822, @jonmalexander

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