Las Vegas – Everything about Gonzaga’s No. 1 match against the No. 5 Duke Friday night at the T-Mobile Arena felt bloated.
The match, which Duke won 84-81, was up to the hype.
Paulo Banchero, a projected No. 2 for ESPN in the 2022 NBA Draft, earned 20 points from his game-high 21 points in the first half of the victory. He’s done everything for Duke, including going 3 of 8 out of a 3-point range, and he’s proven to be an unstoppable force. But he left the game in the second half due to what appeared to be shrinking issues, the same problems he had in his team’s season-opening win over Kentucky. He came back near the eight minute mark of the second half.
However, the duke also showed her depth. It wasn’t the same crew without Panshiro, but Mark Williams (17 points) and Wendell Moore Jr. (20 points) helped the Blue Devils maintain their edge.
Chet Holmgren, the expected No. 1 pick for ESPN in the draft, made an effective effort around the edge but missed his first three 3-point attempts. However, he never lost his composure and gave major plays late. Gonzaga had to play most of the first half without the seven’s goal, making his second foul near the 10-minute mark.
Drew Tim, the nationally contender player of the year, also had a serious problem, making his fourth foul in the match period and going to the bench. But a sophomore Julian Strother, a native of Las Vegas, had a great night out in front of family members and friends. He finished with 20 points before losing late.
In the end, however, Duke’s speed and athletic zeal gave him the advantage. The Blue Devils had Panshiro. Gonzaga did not.
Before the match, police cars blocked off the streets around the building and security was tightened. In the moments leading up to the match, fans scrambled to find a ticket. As the tip approached, some stadium seats were going for close to $8,000.
Brooks Koepka and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were both. – Wearing a twinkling chain across the building – part of the crowd of 20,389 that filled the arena and set a record for the largest basketball crowd in Nevada history.
Duke couldn’t quite walk away from Gonzaga after a brisk start, and in the first half, the Blue Devils were only three points ahead. The back-and-forth chaos continued into the second half, when Duke had to get past Banchereau’s absence.
a Jeremy Roach Bucket tied the score at 73-73, but then Moore intercepted the inside pass, fouled by Holmgren and made his free throws to give Duke a 75-73 lead. Then the Duke’s free throw followed.
Timme Bucket Cuts offers Duke for one with about 90 seconds to play. This was followed by two free throws by Duke. Timme threw a pass to Holmgren for a dunk on the other end, and it was a one-point match when Roach led and scored to extend Duke’s lead to 80-77 with 41.2 seconds to play.
That was the pace of the game all night long. Gonzaga was getting close, but nothing seemed to be stuck. Timme’s shot is modified with about 30 seconds to play by Williams. From there, Duke made free throws to seal the win and give Gonzaga his first loss of the season in a non-conference match.
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