BOZICH | Louisville buried by Duke Doctors of Dunk show
Even without all-American Marvin Bagley Jr., Duke overwhelmed Louisville Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
DURHAM, N.C. – Duke expected what you expected from the Louisville basketball team Wednesday night:
A team ready to compete with a ferocious edge after the unpleasant news delivered by the NCAA one day earlier. A team determined to silence the whispers that the Cardinals have moved into the Danger Zone for the NCAA Tournament.
"We felt like they would come out angry after what's happened to them the last week," one Duke player told me on the Cameron Indoor Stadium floor after the game.
If there was an edge to the way the Cardinals competed, I missed it. So did the scoreboard.
Duke 82, Louisville 56 -- the largest defeat the Cardinals have suffered in nearly four complete seasons of Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Louisville wore its old school, black Doctors of Dunk uniforms, but Duke took the Cardinals’ calling card, too. Of the Blue Devils' 29 field goals, 14 were dunks and 9 were three-pointers. That's bad math for a visiting team.
Dunk. Dunk. Dunk. Dunk. Dunk. Dunk. Dunk.
"They’re a great team," said Louisville forward Deng Adel. "They’ve got a lot of athletic guys. We’ve got athletes, too. They just wanted the rebounds more. That just led to a lot of their dunks."
Louisville was dunked on by Javin DeLaurier (twice). And Marques Bolden. And Wendell Carter. And Jack White. Everybody but Mike Krzyzewski’s grandson had one.
I didn't mention Marvin Bagley Jr. on that list because the Blue Devils overwhelmed the Cardinals without their best inside player.
Krzyzewski plugged in replacements parts, turned loose his 5-star horses and the Blue Devils were up 20 before the public address announcer had a chance to introduce Grant Hill.
"We allowed them to shoot 48 percent and gave up 12 offensive rebounds, which is never good," Louisville coach David Padgett said. "It just wasn’t our night."
It's has not been the Cardinals' night too many times over the last month. Louisville has lost two straight as well as five of its last seven, entering the conversation as a team that could play its way out of the NCAA Tournament. They’re 18-10 overall and 8-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference – with back-to-back double-digit losses.
"We just haven’t been real good the last couple weeks," Padgett said. "As to why, I’m not real sure. There’s a million things running through my mind as to why.
"But if you look at all our box scores the last five or six weeks, the field goal percentages are too high for the other team. Obviously rebounding, too, is a big, big weakness. Tonight we got out-rebounded by 14.
"I don’t know if it’s something we can correct in a short period of time, but we’re certainly going to have to give it our best effort. Because if we don’t guard, it’s going to be tough to win."
"I think at the end of the game they had like seven or eight dunks.," said Louisville center Anas Mahmoud. "The game was already like 20 points. I guess we kind of stopped playing for some reason."
Actually, Duke had seven dunks in the first 20 minutes as the Blue Devils surged to a 42-21 advantage.
The Cards scored the next eight points, but Duke did not stagger. Grayson Allen had one of those games that put him on the pre-season magazine covers. He led the Blue Devils with 28 points, making six of 15 shots from distance.
When Louisville played him to drive, Allen launched from distance. When the Cards crowded him, Allen attacked. Without Bagley, Allen looked more aggressive and confident. He was not hunting shots. But he was not turning them down.
"He’s a four-year player that you would expect to play the way he’s playing," Padgett said. "He’s stepped up in the absence of their leading scorer and he’s really taken over their team.
"He’s just a great college player and tonight he really showed why."
Duke feasted at the rim, too. Padgett barked at his players to box out. He flexed his shoulders, urging them to play with strength. Miss a rebounding assignment and you returned to bench.
For a minute, I suspected Padgett was ready to rip off his suit jacket, tie and shirt and put himself in the game. Guys didn’t dunk on Padgett like that.
"We got lost a couple of times from the scouting report in the first half defensively," Padgett said. "They made us pay for it. It seemed like every mistake we made offensively or defensively, they capitalized on it."
Louisville got 17 points from Ray Spalding, 10 from Deng Adel and V.J. King and little from anybody else. Louisville led for 58 seconds.
The Cards will not return to Louisville until Saturday night. They’ll practice in Durham Thursday before traveling to Blacksburg, Va., for their 1 p.m. game with Hokies Saturday. All Tech did Wednesday was defeat No. 15 Clemson. The Cards beat the Hokies by eight on Jan. 13, but they have won four of their last five. They're the only ACC team to defeat Virginia.
"It’s got to be on to the next one because I know that Virginia Tech is a very difficult place to play," Padgett said. "So we’ve got to move on."
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