After struggling mightily against Kentucky, Duke sophomore Grayson Allen was relegated to the bench by head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
That move, whether for strategy or motivation, proved to be the right adjustment for the Blue Devils as Allen poured in a career high 30 points to lead his team to a 79-71 victory.
He finished 9-of-15 from the field and knocked down four three pointers just three days after being limited by the Kentucky defense to just six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the Champions Classic.
On this night Allen wasn’t the only Blue Devil enjoying a career performance. Freshman point guard Derryck Thornton got his first career start and responded by scoring a career high 19 points as Duke’s depth gradually wore down the Rams in the second half.
VCU led by one at intermission and threatened to take control of the game early in the second half when a Mo Alie-Cox free throw game put the Rams up by six. But a three pointer by Derryck Thornton began a 24-6 spurt that turned the tide and allowed Duke to seize control.
While Allen and Thornton were posting big numbers, Duke’s highest rated freshman, Brandon Ingram, was struggling once again. The 6-foot-9 wing shot just 2-of-7 from the field and 4-of-11 from the free throw line to finish with 8 points and six rebounds.
The Blue Devils (3-1) will face Georgetown, which beat Wisconsin 71-61, in the championship game on Sunday. The game will be broadcast at 1:00 PM on ESPN.