Sports

Top-ranked Duke rallies for 87-84 victory over No. 7 Florida

 — 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.

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.

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