Duke loses Marvin Bagley, but still beats Michigan State, thanks to Grayson Allen


CHICAGO — It was billed as a rare No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup that would, among other things, provide college basketball fans with an opportunity to see Marvin Bagley III on a big stage for the first time. Only problem? Not even 10 minutes post-tipoff, Bagley could not see. So Bagley could not play. Which left Duke without its most talented player for the final 30-plus minutes.

And yet, impressively, Duke won anyway — mostly because Grayson Allen scored a career-high 37 points to lead the top-ranked Blue Devils to an 88-81 victory against a Michigan State team that fell behind by double-digits early, rallied later but could not close in Tuesday’s opening game of the Champions Classic here at the United Center. The result pushed Duke to 3-0 and raised Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career record to 11-1 against Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo. 

“You don’t get any banners for a record against one school or against another coach,” Krzyzewski said in an attempt to downplay the often-cited record. “Our program is about winning against everybody, if we can.”

So what’s up with Bagley?

The possible No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft sat on the bench the entire second half with what Krzyzewski later described as a “scratched eye” caused by a teammate poking him while attempting to grab a rebound. Duke declined to make Bagley available for interviews after the game. But the 6-foot-11 forward was in the locker room and seemed pain-free — although his eye was red and obviously bothered. And multiple sources connected to the program told CBS Sports they don’t believe this will cause him to miss additional time. The expectation is that Bagley will be available Friday and is at no risk of missing the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational next week.

“At first, he had a hard time seeing out of the eye,” Krzyzewski said. “But now he can see out of it.”

So that’s the good news.

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Grayson Allen kept a frown on Sparty’s face with perhaps his best performance at Duke.
USATSI

And the other good news is that Grayson Allen played a basketball game and was so tremendous that, at least for a night, he made all those lame tripping jokes obsolete. Kinda hard to tweet overused cracks when the finally-healthy senior guard is bombing one 3-pointer after another, reestablishing himself as an undeniably great college player and helping Duke close on a 15-6 run to secure a victory against the team heavily favored to win the Big Ten. Allen took 11 shots from beyond the arc and made seven of them. He looked like the most comfortable player on the court and felt that way, too.

“I’ve played in 90 more games than the four teammates that are out there with me,” Allen said in reference to the fact that he’s starting alongside four freshmen. “So I feel a little more comfortable and calm and confident out there.”

Izzo was clearly frustrated afterward — specifically by the realization that his team allowed Duke to grab two more offensive rebounds (25) than Michigan State grabbed defensive rebounds (23). “Never in a million years did I think we would get out-rebounded like that,” Izzo said. And he was right to be disappointed. Because the 17 second-chance points Michigan State let Duke score off those offensive rebounds were costly.

Regardless, though, here’s the truth: The Spartans were still up 75-73 on the nation’s No. 1 team with four minutes remaining and thus could’ve easily won the game. So only a fool would alter his opinion on what is and is not possible for Michigan State based on the final score.

Somebody had to win. Somebody had to lose.

Whatever.

Run it back next Tuesday and the score would likely be tied in the final four minutes again, same as it was this time, point being that there’s not much difference between Duke and Michigan State. If both win their leagues and make the Final Four, that won’t be surprising. If both advance to the national title game and play again on the first Monday in April, that won’t be surprising either.



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