Bagley leads Duke past Florida
Fans at Moda Center saw two of the best teams college basketball has to offer Sunday night in the final game of the PK80 Invitational.
Top-ranked Duke and seventh-ranked Florida already had played in two of the best games of the tournament — each coming away with an overtime victory on Friday. And they did not disappoint the crowd on Sunday.
Duke trailed most of the way but ended with a 15-2 run to pull out an 87-84 victory over the Gators for the Motion Bracket championship.
"Had a huge opportunity in front of us and really played well for, I'd say, 35 minutes," Florida coach Mike White said. "We put ourselves in a really good position, we just couldn't finish against a terrific team. Tough loss for us, but I feel like we got better this weekend."
Superstars for both teams showed in a big way in the finale.
Florida's Jalen Hudson led the Gators with 24 points.
Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III — who earned the Motion Bracket MVP award — came through with 30 points and 15 boards.
Bagley was averaging 33.2 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Mike Krzyzewski, who has been in charge of the Blue Devils for 38 seasons, called him "the most unique kid I've coached," noting that Bagley is 6-11, can guard five positions and "put up two 30-15 games in a row as a freshman."
Superior play in the paint helped Duke be successful in the PK80. However, the Blue Devils came out the gate sloppy in this one, missing 12 of their first 13 shots, including five right at the rim.
Florida, on the other hand, picked up where it had left off against Gonzaga, jumping to an 18-4 lead and nailing its first three 3-pointers.
Florida's small lineup seemed to give Bagley trouble in the early minutes, though he returned to his dominant ways later in the half and brought the Blue Devils to within striking distance.
After a tip-in from Duke's Javin DeLaurier, Bagley scored 11 of his team's next 13 points and showed off an array of talents to the NBA scouts in attendance. His ability to shoot the 3, be active for offensive rebounds and run in transition have pro teams gawking. Bagley finished with 18 points in the first half.
Florida guard Chris Chiozza, asked how to contain a player like Bagley, responded: "I don't know. You've got to hope he misses. Keep him from getting his own rebound. He's just a talented kid, a great player."
The 3-point shot, though, is what Duke used to get in front. Back-to-back 3's from Gary Trent Jr. cut the Florida lead to 35-34. After a pair of free throws from Florida's KeVaughn Allen, the Blue Devils went on a 10-0 run and led 42-37, thanks largely to a pair of 3's from Grayson Allen and a midrange jumper by Trent.
Then it was Florida's turn. The Gators finished the half 7 of 13 from behind the arc and went into the locker room with a 53-49 lead.
The Gators looked dominant to start the second half, going a 13-0 run to take a 72-57 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
It was the second game in a row in which Duke trailed by 15 or more points — the Blue Devils had faced a 16-point deficit Saturday against Texas.
But as the game moved into the latter stages of the second half, the fatigue of Florida's late-night, double-overtime win against Gonzaga on Friday appeared to set in.
"We tried the best we could to get a lot of rest yesterday," Chiozza said. "We came out and felt pretty good. But you could tell in the second half that we didn't have enough gas to finish it off."
Hudson finished off a contested layup to put the Gators ahead 82-72 with 4:08 left.
But despite being a young team, Duke responded as it had on Friday.
A 3 from Allen — the only non-freshman Duke starter — cut the Florida lead to three and brought new life to the Blue Devils faithful. A Bagley dunk and two free throws from Trent gave Duke its first lead of the second half at 85-84 with 1:11 left.
"We just have heart. That's pretty much all it is," Bagley said. "We had been down a lot. We weren't playing how we normally play. We just didn't give up. I'm happy to be a part of a team that fights to the end no matter what the situation."
Hudson was the hero for the Gators on Friday night with 31 points and some big shots down the stretch. He had chances to come through again, but couldn't deliver.
Hudson was fouled on a drive with 53 seconds remaining, but with a chance to put his team back on top, he missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Duke's next possession ended in a shot-clock violation, giving Florida the ball with 23 seconds left. Once again, the Gators put the ball in the hands of Hudson. But Trent came up with the defensive play of the tournament, stripping the ball away from Hudson at the top of the key. Trent got fouled on the play and sank both of his free throws to put Duke on top by three.
Florida had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Egor Koulechov's 3 from the baseline didn't touch the rim, and the Blue Devil players celebrated on the Moda Center floor.
"I thought (Duke) tightened up and forced some contested (shots) late," White said. "If one of them goes, maybe it's different. Maybe we could have stymied a couple of those runs."
Krzyzewski left singing praises of the event.
"Even in the most creative places that Nike has been, they could not have (thought) about how good this tournament has been," Krzyzewski said. "It's been a privilege for us to be here and be in Portland. We have been treated unbelievably well and to play three amazing games, with tonight being the most amazing … I want to thank Nike and Portland for treating us so well."