No. 7 Florida can’t hold back No. 1 Duke

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Duke forward Marvin Bagley III, left, forward Javin DeLaurier, right and Florida forward Kevarrius Hayes, center, fight for a rebound during the second half Sundayin the Phil Knight Invitational tournament in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

By Anne M. Peterson, AP Sports Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. — Marvin Bagley III had a simple explanation for No. 1 Duke’s incredible late rally against No. 7 Florida.
“We just have heart,” the 6-foot-11 freshman sensation said. “That’s pretty much all it is.”

Bagley had 30 points and 15 rebounds, and the Blue Devils came back from a 17-point deficit with 10 minutes left to beat the Gators 87-84 on Sunday night for the Motion Bracket championship at the Phil Knight Invitational tournament.

Fellow freshman Gary Trent Jr., who had a pair of free throws that pulled the Blue Devils (8-0) in front and a key steal in the final moments, finished with 15 points.

Bagley has six double-doubles in eight games this season. He was named the bracket’s Most Valuable Player.

Jalen Hudson had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Florida (5-1), while KeVaughn Allen added 17 points.

Duke closed within 78-70 on consecutive jumpers from Wendell Carter Jr. and a pair of free throws from Bagley. Grayson Allen’s 3-pointer got Duke to 82-79 with 3:07 left, putting the Blue Devils fans on their feet.

Bagley’s layup closed the gap to 84-83 and Trent made free throws to put Duke in front 85-84 with 1:12 left.

Hudson missed a free throw to tie it before Trent’s steal with 12 seconds left. Trent made another pair from the line for the final margin.

“We started playing hard,” Bagley said about the turnaround. “Now the next step is trying to figure out we can do that in the beginning instead of having to fight back the whole time. That can get stressful sometimes. We just got keep continuing to learn and get better. I think we’ll figure it out.”

The teams were among the 16 Nike teams that took part in the three-day tournament, dubbed the PK80, that started on Thanksgiving and took a hiatus Saturday for college football. Fourth-ranked Michigan State beat defending NCAA champion North Carolina 63-45 earlier in the evening in the Victory Bracket.

The event honored Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday.

Both Florida and Duke were coming off hard-fought overtime victories.

The Gators defeated No. 7 Gonzaga 111-105 in double overtime on Friday night to advance. Hudson had a career-high 35 points, 31 of them coming in the second half.

Florida opened the tournament with a 108-87 victory over Stanford.

The five-time NCAA champion Blue Devils defeated Texas 85-78 in overtime on Friday, led by Bagley with 34 points and 15 rebounds. Duke opened the tournament with a 99-81 victory over Portland State on Thanksgiving.

“I think fatigue played a factor for both teams,” Florida coach Mike White said. “They’re tired too and they’re young. We’re not having any excuses. I thought Duke defended at a high level, I’m guessing, the last six, eight minutes of the game. I thought they tightened up and forced some contested ones late.”

Egor Koulechov, a graduate transfer from Rice, hit a 3-pointer that put the Gators up 16-4 early. KeVaughn Allen added a layup to extend it.

Grayson Allen made consecutive 3-pointers to give the Blue Devils a 42-37 lead with 4:20 left in the half, capping a 22-5 run. The Gators went back ahead 49-48 on Chris Chiozza’s layup, and ended the half on a 14-2 run to lead 53-49 at the break.

Florida’s momentum continued in the second half, opening with an 8-2 run to go up 61-51. Hudson’s layup capped an 11-0 burst that extended the Gators’ lead to 72-57.

“Your blood pressure is a lot higher when you don’t have good players than it is when you have good players. We have very talented players,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I believe in my guys.”

The teams last played on Dec. 6, 2016, in the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden, with Duke coming out on top 84-74. Duke leads the all-time series 13-4.

The Gators have defeated a top-ranked team twice in the team history. Florida beat then-No. 1 Duke in the 2000 Sweet 16, and then No. 1 Ohio State for the 2007 NCAA Tournament championship.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: Wendell Carter had four double-doubles through the first eight games, but he picked up three fouled early against Florida.

Florida: Hudson is a transfer from Virginia Tech. With his 13th point of the night, KeVaughn Allen reached 1,000 for his career.

UNCLE PHIL: Knight was presented with a special commemorative PK80 trophy during a break in the first half, earning a standing ovation from the crowd at the Moda Center. Nike’s corporate headquarters are in Beaverton, just west of Portland.

COACH K ON BAGLEY: “Because he’s 6-11 and he can guard five positions and he put up two 30 and 15 games in a row as a freshman. Other than that he’s similar to many players that I’ve had,” Krzyzewski said, drawing laughter from reporters.

UP NEXT

Duke visits Indiana on Wednesday night.

Florida is off until Dec. 4 when the Gators host Florida State.

No. 1 DUKE 87, No. 7 FLORIDA 84
DUKE (8-0)

Carter 2-7 2-2 6, Trent 4-9 4-4 15, G.Allen 5-12 0-0 14, Bagley 10-20 9-10 30, Duval 3-10 4-4 11, DeLaurier 3-5 0-0 6, Bolden 1-2 0-0 2, O’Connell 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 29-66 19-20 87.

FLORIDA (5-1)

Stone 1-5 0-0 2, Chiozza 4-12 4-4 13, K.Allen 5-14 4-4 17, Koulechov 4-12 5-5 15, Hudson 10-20 2-3 24, Hayes 1-3 0-2 2, Gak 2-2 1-2 5, Okauru 0-0 0-0 0, Ballard 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 30-71 16-20 84.

Halftime_Florida 53-49. 3-Point Goals_Duke 10-23 (G.Allen 4-8, Trent 3-5, O’Connell 1-1, Bagley 1-2, Duval 1-6, DeLaurier 0-1), Florida 8-20 (K.Allen 3-8, Koulechov 2-4, Hudson 2-6, Chiozza 1-2). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Duke 38 (Bagley 15), Florida 31 (Hudson 10). Assists_Duke 20 (G.Allen 7), Florida 11 (Chiozza 7). Total Fouls_Duke 18, Florida 17.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Gators fold down the stretch, not ready for prime time. We saw the difference between Florida basketball and programs like Duke; Gators rely on transfers, can’t bring in the 5 stars like Duke, Kentucky, etc… Probably will never see another one-and-done in Gainesville (unless it’s another grad transfer), Bradley Beal last great recruit. Gonna be a fun year in Gainesville, good enough to make a run at the final four, but have to learn how to hold a lead against teams like Duke. Egbunu’s return will help, but even he couldn’t stop a player like Bagley, and Florida recruiting will never land a player like Bagley. Close but no cigar, beat FSU.

      • He’s dead on. Coach took his foot off the gas and let Duke back into it.

        As far as recruiting, he is spot on. I personally don’t want a Kentucky one and done program. Duke may have a nice balance.

      • Ballard could easily play in the NBA next year. He is a true freshman. He just has to play behind solid players who are more physically developed than him right now because they were not one and done. And how many years has coach K been at Duke? White will get top players in the future, but I think he goes and recruits players that fit his system, and not just superstars. I would rather have a program that gets players like Chiozza, Egbunu, Hayes, Hudson, Egor, Allen, and others and have 7 or 8 new names every year that your do not connect with because they will be gone soon. And who cares anyway. This team, with Egbunu back, is a final four team and a possible national champion team. Duke does not beat Florida last night with a healthy Egbunu on the floor. No way.

    • Gators slowed down tempo with about 6 min left in game. That slow down to run time off the clock (Gators were leading by about 12 pts) seemed to throw off their rhythm and Duke seemed to like that change of pace
      and got hot!

  2. This team is special. If they have had Egbunu there is no way Duke wins it! Let’s not forget that Chiozza was playing in pain from the fall he suffered against Gonzaga. This team is destined for the final four! Go Gators !!!

  3. The Florida Gators got fatigued at the end, but honestly, they beat Duke most of the game. Duke got a run at the end to win. Nothing to be ashamed of though. U.F. Basketball was balling with (and beating most of the game) the so-called, ”#1 college basketball team in America”, Duke. Watch out U.K. and the rest of the SEC, the Gators are coming and they’re hungry!!! GO GATORS!

  4. The Gator basketball team has nothing to be ashamed of – excellent performance against # 1 Duke – game could have gone either way. I predict Florida will see Duke again this year on the basketball court. GO GATORS!!!

  5. Great tournament from this team. Only brighter future come SEC schedule time when Egbunu and possibly even Stokes return (he may redshirt). Only disappointing aspect of this game was the way they really turned into a four corners offense the last 7-8 minutes. Not sure if it was from a change in Duke’s defense or an intensity level that Duke increased that the Gators didn’t reciprocate, but it seemed that they were holding the ball and just dribbling around for one shot instead of passing it and moving like they did to gain the 14 point lead. Something to learn from going forward this season….still looking forward to a fun one.

  6. Great tournament by both teams. Gators are loaded with stars that have been developed under excellent tutelage. They did seem to be fatigued at the end but Coach White is one of the best minds in the game, hands down. His team and decision-making will keep the Gators on top of the basketball world.

  7. Agree corey. Super tournament for this group of Gators. I really like the ability to score & points we can put up. Egbunu would have helped with Duke’s bigs. The loss to Duke is a great learning experience for the coaches & players. Our young coach is doing a great job & is learning what it takes at the end of games to put teams away. The Gonzaga win was big for me. We have several tough out of conference games prior to the SEC schedule getting under way. Good effort & excellent tournament imo for our team. Looking forward to watching more team ball under Coach White. Go Gators!

  8. I agree with the overall positivity of the comments above! I believe this was a very positive experience playing in this tournament & the heart & basketball smarts on display in the Gonzaga double OT game gives hope for a fun & successful season. However, in the final 8 minutes, the offense turned into an NBA high pick & roll with a drive to the basket & 1 on 3 (Duke defenders) & was not the same quick ball movement & passing that allowed the runs that the Gators were able to put together (& maybe Duke deserves some credit for taking it away & also responding with runs of their own). The most disappointing thing was to “lose” the game b/c of the inability to hit the front end of the 1&1 at the end of a game that would have put Florida up by one with Duke having to score on their (probable) final possession — by a player that has been VERY important to the team this year & is a good free throw shooter. We finally have at least 4 players who should be on the court at the end of a game who provide some confidence that they will hit their free throws in crunch time. I hope this miss does not diminish their confidence but it is so disappointing to lose another big game by a missed front end of a 1&1!

  9. Good article that sums up why we lost! Putting Egor at 6’5″ on 6’11” Bagley made no sense. Plus we stayed in man the whole game I believe and we were getting torched inside which was our eventual demise so mix it up try some zone and if it doesn’t work go back to man. That’s coaching and on Coach White. Egbunu sorely needed but he’s not super quick so still needed to zone some. Teams that don’t play great defense and score a lot of points are potential upsets in the NCAA’s. Look at last years NCAA’s. We have an outstanding team so hopefully lessons learned.

  10. Anyone who posts a negative comment about this Florida basketball team is beyond out of their minds. This is the most exciting team to watch play since the recent two championship years. This team is as good as that team, and especially when Egbunu comes back and gets into playing condition. I would not want to play Florida in March. No way.

  11. General George Patton said it best, “America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser” I cannot honestly say I am OK with the way the weekend PK80 turned out, I am not content to lose a close game and be OK with that, I want my team to win those close games, there is no such thing as a moral victory. If you have followed Gator basketball for more than a year, you know this program has a problem with closing out games, they cannot stretch a 14 point lead into a 20 point lead and runaway from an opponent like Duke, they somehow always manage to fold down the stretch.

  12. What a phenomenal tournament the team played! Gators outplayed and outcoached a very tough Gonzaga team and did the same against Duke but lost in the final minutes. Mike White has proven he can recruit and coach with the best in the nation and this years team looks to be the most talented and driven since the national championship years teams. It is sad to read the negative comments and criticisms from a few entitled fans. They give our school such a bad name. Keep firing on all cylinders Gator Basketball!

  13. Slowing down a basketball game to take time of the clock is like the prevent defense in football. ALL IT DOES IS PREVENT YOU FROM WINNING THE GAME. Keep playing the game that got you the lead. White should know that. Hopefully, everyone learns from this game that it’s 40 minutes of playing the way you got there. This is a special team, much better than last year’s. I am picking Gators for a Final Four berth–and an NCAA championship game against Duke.