Duke-Texas features two top NBA prospects (Nov 24, 2017)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Because the teams aren't in the same bracket, fans won't be seeing Duke take on North Carolina on Friday.
Instead, they'll settle for watching two of the top NBA prospects square off.
Freshman Marvin Bagley III will lead the Blue Devils against Mohamed Bamba and Texas in a second-round matchup at the Phil Knight 80 Invitational in Portland, Ore. The game, which features the nation's No. 1 (Bagley) and No. 4 (Bamba) recruits, is sure to have NBA scouts drooling.
Duke nearly suffered a monumental upset in the first round when it was trailing Portland State 49-45 at halftime. The Blue Devils regained composure in the second half and used their size and length to pull away for a 99-81 victory.
"The first half we obviously weren't playing like we were normally do," Bagley said.
"We weren't doing the things that we do well. We weren't going to our strengths. We kind of came out sluggish. But going into the second half it was just, 'You have to wake up.' They (the coaches) mentioned to us that these are the type of games that are going to be like that if you don't come out ready to play."
Meanwhile, Texas outlasted Butler 61-48 in an ugly offensive game. The Longhorns shot 40 percent and got 16 points from guard Andrew Jones for the win. Bamba was held to just six points, but he did have game-highs of 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Duke is willing to play fast or slow, either getting up and down the court or pounding it inside to its big men in a half-court game. Five players average double figures, with Bagley leading the way at 19.2 points and nine rebounds per game. Grayson Allen, a potential national player of the year, averages 18.4 points and shoots 50 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
But, without Allen in the lineup, the Blue Devils are extremely young and prone to letting up -- as was the case against Portland State.
"You know what happens sometimes too when you're in a tournament? You assume you're going to play Sunday night. Especially when you're young, you assume that," coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Texas doesn't have the depth Duke does, but Bamba will be the best player the Blue Devils have faced this year. He averages 14 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. Dylan Osetkowski is a nice complement to Bamba, averaging 11.3 points and nine rebounds per game.
This game will offer contrasting styles as Duke shoots the three-ball well enough -- 37 percent -- while Texas struggles at 27.4 percent.
The winner will advance to the championship game of the "Motion" bracket on Sunday.