The semifinals of the 2K Classic were about getting back to normal for both Duke and Georgetown while at Madison Square Garden. The two teams now vie for the title Sunday hoping to carry momentum into the rest of their non-conference schedules.
The fifth-ranked Blue Devils were clearly outclassed in their 74-63 loss to No. 2 Kentucky in the Champions Classic in Chicago on Tuesday night. Some of that sluggish play continued Friday night versus VCU, but Grayson Allen rescued them by scoring a career-high 30 points in their 79-71 semifinal victory at MSG.
It was a needed bounce-back game for Allen, who was stifled by the Wildcats and limited to 2-of-11 shooting and six points. The sophomore came off the bench - though he did log 37 minutes - and was 4 of 8 from 3-point range and 9 of 15 overall.
"For us, it's all about moving on," Allen said. "There was obviously a rough film session after the Kentucky game where we talked about the improvements that needed to be made. Once you see that you move on to the next game. You make those improvements and move on. For me, coming off the bench it was nothing different as if I was starting. It's the same aggressive, attacking mindset."
After Allen righted himself, Amile Jefferson may be the next candidate to regroup from a poor showing. The senior forward averaged 15.3 points and 11.3 rebounds while posting double-doubles in his first three games for Duke (3-1), but was held to six points and seven boards.
Freshman guard Derryck Thornton, who got his first collegiate start at Allen's expense, had a season-high 19 points while shooting 7 of 11.
"Derryck brought a personality, in his talk and he looked strong, played that way," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Even if there was a mistake, it never rattled him. He's earning the respect and confidence of his teammates. I was very impressed with that."
Georgetown (1-2) arrived in New York after opening with a stunning double-overtime home loss to unheralded Radford before pushing No. 3 Maryland to the brink in a 75-71 road defeat Monday. The Hoyas showed their mettle with a wire-to-wire 71-61 victory over 2015 NCAA Tournament runner-up Wisconsin in Friday's other semifinal, getting a combined 27 points from reserves Reggie Cameron and Jessie Govan.
Cameron scored all 14 of his points in the first half, making 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and logged 29 minutes after playing 25 total in Georgetown's two losses.
"I know I can make shots. We were just really ready to get there and play this game today," Cameron said. "I think our whole team was excited. We all wanted to get out there and everybody wanted to play good and contribute and everybody did that today."
Of more importance to coach John Thompson III was the Hoyas finally getting their defense aligned. They limited the Badgers to 31.7 percent shooting and five 3-pointers after allowing opponents to hit 44.6 percent and 18 shots from beyond the arc in their 0-2 start.
Both defenses will be tested in somewhat similar styles. Georgetown continues to use its Princeton-based offense of cuts and motion, while Krzyzewski opted for a four-guard lineup versus VCU and ran more of a motion-based offense to create driving lanes for his quicker lineup.
This is the first meeting between the teams since then-No. 8 Georgetown raced past seventh-ranked Duke 89-77 on Jan. 30, 2010, to complete a home-and-home series that started with the Blue Devils winning 76-67 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 17, 2009.