Allen looks to lead 2nd seeded Duke to Sweet 16
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) Duke's Grayson Allen long ago tuned out the boos, no matter how frequent they've become at all places not the Blue Devils home court.
''It's something I don't hear anymore,'' Allen said. ''But we like playing in buildings where it's loud. When there is noise in the crowd, it gives everyone on the court energy. We use that energy and play with it.''
Allen is the latest in the line of Duke players like Christian Laettner and J.J. Redick that opponents love to harass . It happened to Allen on Friday night in second-seeded Duke's 87-65 victory over 15th-seeded Troy. And it will happen once more Sunday night in a big way when the Blue Devils (29-7) take on seventh-seeded South Carolina (23-10) in a defacto home game for the Gamecocks, about two hours north of campus at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and whose fans will snap up any available ticket.
''We like tough environments,'' Allen said Saturday. ''We played in tough environments all year, really. And I did hear their crowd at the end of our game.''
In the other East region game Sunday, third-seeded Baylor (27-6) takes on 11th-seeded Southern Cal (26-9) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The winners move to the Sweet 16 in Madison Square Garden next week.
Allen gets the derisive chants and boos game after game. He heard it from all other fan bases in the stands Friday night whenever he got his hands on the ball.
''G's a tough kid,'' Duke guard Frank Jackson said. ''And I think with the support from his teammates and from the coaching staff, you know, he's been able to fight through all that stuff.''
Allen wasn't worried about it on Friday night, leading Duke with 21 points off five 3-pointers.
Some of Allen's issues are of his own making. He was suspended for a game after flagrant trip against Elon last December. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski acknowledged his player was wrong and disciplined him. He said he's just glad Allen continues to help the Blue Devils in the right way.
''We're supposed to preserve and educate the kids that we have the honor to coach, and not to appease a quick-judgment, shallow-analysis type of judgment on things,'' Krzyzewski said. ''And so that's all. And we're going to continue to do that. And we'll bear the praise or the criticism of what happens in that regard.''
Things to watch in the East region games Sunday:
DEFENSIVE K: Duke comes by its defensive intensity honestly. Coach Mike Krzyzewski remembers when his Army team played South Carolina in the NIT in 1969 and he was assigned to guard John Roche, who left the Gamecocks as the team's third all-time leading scorer. Krzyzewski held Roche, a 22.5-point per game scorer, to just six points in Army's 59-45. ''I'd like to say it was because of me,'' Krzyzewski said.
It was really, he explained, because Army was well prepared to handle South Carolina's double-high offense. ''That was a good one. That was a good win,'' Krzyzewski said.
UNC-DUKE RIVALRY: South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell didn't hesitate when asked if he rooted for Duke growing up. ''I was North Carolina. You know how I feel,'' said Thornwell, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Marquette.
STICKING AROUND: Baylor's Ishmail Wainwright is glad to have another NCAA Tournament game to play. The third-seeded Bears have been labeled underachievers after losing the past two opening round tourney games as the better seed. Baylor took care of the opener with a 91-73 victory over New Mexico State. That, Wainwright said, took a world of pressure of the team's shoulders. ''The load is off,'' he said. ''We're not worried about the past two years or three years or whatever people are saying.''
SOUTHERN CAL'S FORMULA: The Trojans have used a similar script to win twice in the NCAA Tournament - get behind early as the opponent makes shots , then rely on what they practiced to let the game plan take hold. It worked against Providence in the First Four and sixth-seeded SMU on Friday. Once we do that, we always come back in the huddle in the second half and just congregate,'' Trojans guard Elijah Stewart said. ''We just try to execute it.''
It worked. Southern Cal came from 17 points down to beat Providence and 12 points to defeat SMU.
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