The Duke Blue Devils came into the NCAA Tournament at their best after winning another ACC tournament. Coach Mike Krzyzewski had won his 14th ever ACC tournament and his team was prepared to make a real run. Meanwhile, the Troy Trojans were not used to being in a tournament of this stature. This was their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2003 and most pundits weren’t sure what to expect. On paper, this game looks pretty lopsided and it would be hard to make a case for Troy to compete with a team like Duke. But don’t forget a #3 ranked Duke lost to a #14 ranked Mercer team in 2014 so anything is possible.
Full Game Recap
Early on in this match-up, Duke showed their dominance against an over-matched Troy team. Duke started the game on fire with a 16-4 run and never looked back. Star player Luke Kennard didn’t have the best game only scoring 8 points on 3-for-12 shooting. That marked only the second time Kennard didn’t have double-digit points this season. Meanwhile, freshman and NBA prospect Jayson Tatum showed why he’s a highly coveted talent in the NBA. With the first ever double-double for a Duke freshmen’s debut in the NCAA Tournament, Tatum put the world on notice. He had 18 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and four steals. This stat-line is more NBA-like and shows he’s ready to make the leap. He has a smooth silky game, a calm jump shot and the size to play multiple positions. Troy just didn’t have the quality players to keep up with a team like Duke.
Jordon Varnado played well for Troy though scoring 18 points and adding 10 rebounds. Turnovers and poor shooting percentage didn’t help the cause as this game was out of hand before Troy could truly settle in. Also, troubled talent Grayson Allen showed led the team with 21 points shooting 5-for-9 from three-point range and compiling five rebounds with four assists. Duke guards Matt Jones and Frank Jackson each added 14 points and three assists in the strong showing for Duke. While Troy battled with Duke all night long, the talent disparity was quite clear. Poor shot selection from Troy led to them only shooting 5-for-23 from three-point range and having 17 total turnovers can be the catalyst to losing a game like this.
What’s next for Duke and Troy?
With the win, #2 Duke will have to face the #7 South Carolina Gamecocks in their next NCAA Tournament match-up. The Gamecocks are a surprising team to be successful since they haven’t won a tournament game since 1973 before their last game. But after the 20-point blowout of Marquette in round one, South Carolina will be itching to prove they can outlast the powerhouse that is Duke. On the other hand, the lost Troy suffered could either help or hinder their future. Since they haven’t reached this stage often in the past, their future is uncertain. Troy will need to get through the rigid Sun Belt conference again next season to make another run at the NCAA Tournament.