The second-seeded Duke Blue Devils rolled into the second round of the NCAA tournament Friday with an 87-65 win over the No. 15 Troy Trojans at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina.
Duke did much of its damage from beyond the arc as it connected at a 46.4 percent clip by hitting 13 of its 28 three-point attempts in a game it led from wire to wire.
Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum, Matt Jones and Frank Jackson all scored at least 14 points for the Blue Devils, which represented a carryover of the depth and offensive potency they displayed en route to the ACC tournament title.
Allen led the way with 21 points, while Tatum contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds and accomplished something that hadn't been done by a Duke freshman in 31 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Jayson Tatum: 1st double-double by a Duke freshman in his NCAA Tournament debut since Danny Ferry in 1986 vs Mississippi Valley State3/18/2017, 1:16:27 AM
Sophomore forward Jordon Varnardo paced the Trojans with a double-double of his own consisting of 18 points and 10 boards.
Duke was in control from the start as it raced out to a 20-6 lead behind excellent three-point shooting and a dominant showing by Jones. Sam Vecenie of SportingNews.com noted:
Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie
When Matt Jones has 11 points in nine minutes, you know that Duke is Back.3/17/2017, 11:40:10 PM
In addition to their long-range success, the Blue Devils showed off their athletiandm ans appeared poised to run Troy out of the gym at times.
That was on full display during the following fastbreak dunk by Tatum, courtesy of NCAA March Madness:
NCAA March Madness @marchmadness
Duke's offense was on point in that first half. Blue Devils up, 52-38. #MarchMadness https://t.co/y0ItuFX9t73/18/2017, 12:14:17 AM
Troy managed to cut the deficit to as little as seven points with 2:25 remaining in the opening half, but Duke was able take all of the momentum into the locker room.
The Blue Devils led 52-38 at halftime due in part to a late trifecta by Allen followed up by an emphatic block by Tatum on Jeremy Hollimon, per CBS Sports:
CBS Sports @CBSSports
Now that's how you want to end the half! https://t.co/dO244cUULn3/18/2017, 12:10:25 AM
Despite seemingly everything working in Duke's favor, head coach Mike Krzyzewski remained wary of his opponent, according to March Madness TV:
March Madness TV @MarchMadnessTV
"One thing about #marchmadness, everyone's a believer" - Coach K HALFTIME UPDATE: Troy 38 Duke 52 https://t.co/u19ARMtYP43/18/2017, 12:13:53 AM
Coach K's words rang true as the Trojans went on a 5-0 run to start the second half and prevented Duke from pulling away.
They also proved that they could compete with the Blue Devils from an athletic perspective with plays, such as this jam by guard Wesley Person:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
We see you, Troy! #MarchMadness https://t.co/j9Pe7mcvR73/18/2017, 12:47:59 AM
Troy could not get any closer than nine points, though, as Allen and Tatum took over for Duke and helped build the lead back up.
Tatum was so impressive in the second half that Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports suggested he could hear his name called early in the 2017 NBA draft should he opt to declare:
The Trojans were unable to contend with Duke's offensive precision down the stretch, which allowed it to balloon its lead to more than 20 points.
An appropriate exclamation point was put on the win by Javin DeLaurier with 42 seconds remaining when he lost control of the ball while driving to the hoop and it just happened to go in:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Of course, Duke 😂 #MarchMadness https://t.co/JdhYPaVXPR3/18/2017, 1:28:27 AM
Troy posed a tough challenge at times, but shots fell with more consistency for Duke, including ones the team didn't necessarily mean to take.
Duke entered the game as one of the top contenders to win the national title, and it did little to remove itself from that conversation.
The level of competition promises to rise in the second round, though, where it will take on the winner of the game between the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks and No. 10 Marquette Golden Eagles.
Following Friday's victory, Coach K was highly complimentary of a Troy team that played tough basketball and competed throughout the game, according to Noah Mindel of WTVY in Dothan, Alabama:
Noah Mindel @noahmindel
"We beat a good (Troy) team. They are very well coached. We did a good job in defending the 3 which is what they do." - Coach K3/18/2017, 1:33:31 AM
He also had some kind words for Troy's players with regard to how they forced Duke to raise their level of play, per Troy Basketball:
Troy head coach Phil Cunningham expressed a great deal of pride in how his team performed against a far more talented and athletic Duke squad:
Noah Mindel @noahmindel
"The one thing we did great today was FIGHT. We played with no fear and I am proud of our guys" - @philtcunningham @TroyMensHoops #TroyTough https://t.co/sZTFdmv4Rk3/18/2017, 1:49:06 AM
Cunningham also marveled at the strides the Trojans made in 2016-17 after winning just 30 games in his first three seasons at the helm combined:
Troy Basketball @TroyMensHoops
.@philtcunningham "We felt like we had the ingredients to make a run like this. To get to where we are today is amazing." https://t.co/yXBaun0ImB3/18/2017, 1:55:12 AM
While Troy was dealt an early exit from the tournament, Duke will continue its potential march toward a national championship Sunday.