Friday night’s match between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Duke was a big one as the Blue Devils beat the Bulldogs 84-81 in a tussle for two national title contenders at the T-Mobile Arena, with the game heading newcomers. Top notch Las Vegas. In the end, it was an experienced game that helped the Blue Devils win their second win over the top 10 rivals this season. The Blue Devils made their first loss to the Bulldogs in a major early season showdown in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga Bulldogs men’s basketball:
Junior forward Wendell Moore Jr. scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half and made seven of his last eight free-throw attempts to help Duke beat Gonzaga’s team by 20 points against No. 2 UCLA. The victory seemed almost invincible. Tuesday night, BYU’s first loss of the season after a 91-78 loss on 22 February 2020 and its first regular season defeat.
The crowd of 20,389 – the largest ever basketball game in Nevada – added a clear sense of tension to the meeting, with Gonzaga’s No. 1 ranked Chat Holmgreen and Duke’s No. 2 ranked Competed against Paolo Banchero. . Benchiro was the story of the first half, as he scored 20 of his 21 points before halftime. But he left the game with 14:11 remaining in the second half while dealing with apparent pain and did not return until the 8:25 mark.
Mark Williams and Moore helped lift the load in his absence. Williams scored 17 for Duke (7-0) and pulled down the team’s high nine rebounds against Holmgreen and Gonzaga star Drew Tim in the post. Julian Strather continued his sophomore season for the Zygos (6-1), completing his second double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Timmy scored 17 and Holmgreen 16. But it was the Blue Devils who emerged victorious as 42-year-old coach Mike Krzyzewski won his seventh against No. 1 enemy.
With Duke’s win over Gonzaga, three of the top five teams in this week’s AP Top 25 pool have lost in the last few days. That means the Blue Devils should reach No. 1 on Monday when a new poll is released. The only other team with a top spot case will be the Purdue squad with wins against North Carolina and No. 7 Villanova. But Duke’s resume is more impressive. The Blue Devils have knocked out No. 10 Kentucky and now have the best win of the season in college basketball by knocking out the Zags.
Gonzaga wasn’t the only one on last season’s success. The Bulldogs secured their ranking with a win over No. 8 Texas and crushing No. 2 Bruins on Tuesday. The Duke team, which did not even make it to last year’s NCAA Tournament, looks like ACC’s favorite and potential Final Four team. If they reach No. 1, it will be the 20th team in Karzai’s 42-year tenure to reach that peak.
Banchero’s struggle with pain took him off the floor for a crucial part of the second half and appeared to limit him to re-entry for the latter part of the game. But it did reveal why he was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft during the first half. The 6-foot-9 forward hit eight of 13 shots off the field in the first half, including three three-pointers.
A sequence in the middle of the first half was typical of Banchero’s all-round game. After pulling down the rebound after a lack of time, Benchero led the Duke fast break and lobbied Mark Williams for the sting. Following Duke’s possession, Banchero passed to Trevor Kells in transition and drilled 3 pointers from the left, giving Duke the game’s biggest lead of 27-18. Benchero can do it all, and Friday’s game was just the latest reminder as he has now reached double figures in each of his first seven college games.
An NBA general manager has speculated about who he could pick as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, perhaps influencing Friday night’s game more than Benchero. But Holmgreen is not disappointed. The 7-footer finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, though he missed all three of his three-point attempts. Williams was sometimes able to take advantage of Holmgreen’s thin frame, but it’s no secret that Holmgreen needs to increase its frame as much as possible in the years to come.
If there was a question as to whether Holmgreen’s conditioning or athleticism would be maintained in a sport in which elite athletes would be played at an obsessive pace, he answered by looking composed and relaxed in his role. Holmgren and Banchero are clearly different players in which Banchero provides more positional potential. Holmgreen, on the other hand, is a truly modern center. In just seven games, he has already blocked more shots (24) than any other on Gonzaga’s roster in 32 games last season. Benchiro may have gotten the best of it on Friday, but don’t be surprised if Holmgreen is still the first in the eyes of some NBA teams who need a modern center in next year’s draft.