At most, Grayson Allen has six games remaining in his career as a Blue Devil, but no matter where Duke goes from here this March, the senior secured his legacy as a heel for life in Friday night’s 74-69 loss to Carolina at Barclays Center.
The serial tripper turned to the hip check in his latest display of dirty play. He was whistled for a flagrant 1 technical foul after intentionally taking out Tar Heel forward Garrison Brooks by midcourt late in the first half of the rivals’ rubber match in an ACC semifinal at Barclays Center. Allen smirked while referees reviewed the play on a courtside monitor. Fans held up royal blue T-shirts emblazoned “I Hate Grayson Allen” and Tar Heel fans booed. Even in an arena where J.J. Redick sat in the stands and was shown on the videoboard and referee Teddy Valentine, known as “TV Teddy,” worked the floor, Allen took home Most Hated Man in the Gym honors.
“They got a fastbreak, I bumped him and fouled him,” Allen said.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski then offered his take.
“I was surprised there was stoppage,” Krzyzewski said. “But we’ll go with the call and move forward.”
When Allen was asked about the hip check a few questions later, Krzyzewski interjected.
“Do you think that was the only time someone was hipped in the game?” Krzyzewski said. “That happened at half court. They got it. It’s done. That didn’t win or lose the game.”
In the end, Allen missed his final two attempts from three and failed to derail No. 6 Carolina as the Tar Heels won to set up an ACC championship game against No. 1 Virginia Saturday night.
“We’ve got to go in there and try to play the perfect game,” Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “We have to play a lot better.”
Allen kept the second-seeded Devils in it down the stretch with a three that cut the Carolina lead to six with less than two minutes left. Allen then picked off a pass, and Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. hit a three on the subsequent possession to cut the deficit to three. After another Tar Heel turnover, Allen spun to the basket before being whistled for a player-control foul with 17.8 seconds left. There was Allen again, though, six seconds later, pressuring Carolina’s Theo Pinson, who lost the ball out of bounds. Allen forced a three and missed off the backboard on offense.
“I haven’t seen anything like that,” Williams said of the final 60 seconds. “You cant make that crap up.”
The rivals had split the regular season series, with each team defending its home court. It was a reversal of last year’s ACC semifinal, also played in Brooklyn, when Duke beat Carolina en route to its winning the title game over Notre Dame.
North Carolina came out smoking 500 miles north of Tobacco Road. Duke took a 1-0 lead on a Wendell Carter Jr. free throw, but the Tar Heels responded with all five starters hitting a shot in the opening five minutes to go up 10-1, then 18-5. Duke responded in kind, going on a 12-2 run to close within three. Duke seized the lead on a jumper by Marvin Bagley III. UNC charged back to lead by five at the half.
Krzyzewski’s last words to the referees before leaving the court were: “What the f— was that?”
Allen cooled off from his previous night’s outburst. Against Notre Dame in the quarterfinals, Allen hit five 3-pointers in the opening 10 minutes. He managed 16 points on the night, stroked four 3-pointers, grabbed 4 rebounds and handed out 4 assists. He also turned the ball over four times.
For Carolina, the focus was not on Allen but moving forward.
“I don’t have any hatred towards him,” Carolina guard Joel Berry II said. “I just told him, ‘You gotta watch yourself’ because they’re going to get on him.”
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