Duke Now

Foul trouble. A flat second-half start. Five observations from Duke's loss to Kansas.

Duke's Wendell Carter describes his struggles in the loss to Kansas

Duke freshman Wendell Carter Jr. was plagued with foul trouble throughout the Blue Devils loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Elite 8.
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Duke freshman Wendell Carter Jr. was plagued with foul trouble throughout the Blue Devils loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Elite 8.

Anger. Defeat. Sadness.

The mood in the locker room after the game was what one would expect.

Duke was just three wins away from achieving a goal its players had set for themselves at the beginning of the year: a national title.

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Instead, the Blue Devils were left with disappointment after their 85-81 overtime loss to Kansas in the Elite Eight on Sunday.

Down to its final moments, the game could have gone either way. Duke senior guard Grayson Allen had the last shot at the end of regulation, but the ball bounced around before rolling off the rim to send the game to overtime.

"It came really close to going in and it didn't," Allen said.

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In overtime, Kansas was just too much for Duke.

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Defending the 3-ball

Kansas coach Bill Self said prior to the game that his team would take 30 3-pointers in Sunday's Elite Eight game against Duke. Duke had the size advantage in the post, and Self felt his team had the advantage from outside.

He was right. Kansas shot 36 3-pointers and made 13 of them, which is 36 percent. That's just below its 40.5 percent season average. Duke did a good job of containing Kansas from behind the arc in the first half (4-for-14), but Kansas knocked down nine in the second half and overtime.

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Many of Kansas' 3-pointers were wide open looks, which came from good ball movement. Duke's NCAA tournament opponents had made those shots in its past three games, but other teams like Iona, Rhode Island and Syracuse - to some degree - didn't hit them. But Kansas finally did.

Kansas' Svi Mykhailiuk knocked down an open 3-pointer with 26 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 72, and eventually send it to overtime.

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Those 3's were open for several reasons. Kansas got out in transition, before Duke could get back in its zone. And its guards got good penetration against Duke's zone, causing the defense to help out, which left open shooters.

And when the Jayhawks needed to hit them, they did.

Kansas redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman hit five 3's and scored 32 points, the most important one coming with 1:49 left in the game. It put Kansas up by three points, giving the Jayhawks a lead they never lost.

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2. Kansas dominated the offensive glass

Going into the game, Duke had the advantage on the boards. Duke freshmen forwards Wendell Carter Jr. and Marvin Bagley III are among the best rebounders in the country.

But Kansas did a good job of crashing the offensive glass. The Jawhawks had 17 offensive rebounds, which led to 15 second chance points.

Duke All America Marvin Bagley cites great play by both teams as season ends abruptly as Kansas heads to Final Four.

All seven Kansas players who played Sunday had a least one offensive rebound.

Udoka Azubuike, Kansas' 7-foot, 280-pound center, led his team with five offensive rebounds, even though he fouled out of the game. He extended possessions and gave Kansas extra opportunities at the basket.

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3. Duke came out flat in the second half

For the second straight game, Duke got off to a slow start and let the opposing team catch up. It happened against Syracuse on Friday in the Sweet 16. And it happened on Sunday too.

After trailing by three points, Kansas went on a 15-5 run through the first five minutes of the second half to take a seven point lead. Duke would eventually regain the lead, but the run was crucial for Kansas as it fired up its fans and gave the team confidence.

The Jayhawks controlled most of the second half, and Duke had to keep up.

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4. Foul trouble for Carter

Carter's foul trouble seemed to bother him offensively in the first half. He picked up his fourth foul with 16:06 left in the game and had to sit for the next nine minutes.

Duke sophomores center Marques Bolden and forward Javin DeLaurier replaced him. But neither of them have the same impact that Carter has on the defensive end. Neither rebounds as well as Carter does either.

"Obviously you have a kid that's averaged a double-double the whole year and he just wasn't able to play his game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I'm not blaming the referees or anything. But it's just, it's disruptive."

When Carter returned to the game, Duke trailed by five points. He helped Duke climb back, and played well during the final stretch of the game. But in overtime, Carter fouled out.

He attempted to take a charge on Newman, but was called for a blocking foul. He had hoped to change the momentum of the game.

"I just have to respect it," Carter said of the call. "No matter what I think, or what I thought, the ref makes the right call."

Watch a time-lapse of the last second shot attempt by Duke's Grayson Allen at the end of regulation of Kansas' 85-81 overtime victory over the Blue Devils in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.

5. Allen and Trent never got going

Duke is at its best when either Allen or freshman guard Gary Trent Jr. is shooting the ball well from the outside. It takes pressure off Bagley and Carter on the inside. Some of its 3-pointers, especially in transition are back breakers. They have fueled double-digit comebacks.

Duke's Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley III talk about the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in the Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.

The two struggled from the outside against Syracuse in the Sweet 16 game. They had hoped to shoot better on Sunday, but didn't. While both players scored in double digits, neither got going from 3. The two combined to go 4-for-19 from behind the 3-point line.

Allen was 2-for-9. Trent was 2-for-10.

"A lot of them hit the rim twice," Allen said. "Bounced around. But I mean, I'm still going to take the open shots. That's our offense. That's a Duke shot when I take an open 3."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski talks about the Blue Devils' overtime loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb. Sunday, March 25, 2018.

Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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