Allen, Tatum lead Duke past Troy

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[March 18, 2017]  GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Duke brought its sharp-shooting stroke into the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils rained a bunch of early long-range shots and that helped carry them in Friday night's first-round game.

Grayson Allen scored 21 points and Jayson Tatum racked up 18 as early marksmanship set the tone at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in an 87-65 victory against Troy.

The first shot of the game was a 3-pointer for Tatum.

"For us to see the first shot go in, kind of loosens it up for everyone else," Allen said. "I thought we did a really good job of moving the ball around. And we did a good job kicking it and moving the ball fast, so when the ball is moving like that, the shots tend to go in."

Matt Jones and Frank Jackson added 14 points each for second-seeded Duke (28-8), which has won five games in a row since ending the regular season with losses in three of four. Tatum also had 12 rebounds.

Duke's second-round opponent Sunday will be No. 7 South Carolina.

Five Duke players sank at least one 3-point shot, led by Allen, who was 5 for 9. The Blue Devils made only three long balls in the second half.

"We got a lot of open looks," Jackson said. "You see the ball go in, we want to shoot when we're open."

After playing four games in four days last week to win the ACC tournament, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he liked his team's energy.

"I thought we started great," Krzyzewski said. "We've done some things in the week in between to get our guys rested and they prepared well."

Tatum, Jackson and Harry Giles made NCAA Tournament debuts in their first college seasons.

"It's cool to be here," Jackson said. "It's an honor to play in this tournament."

Jordon Varnado's 18 points, Wesley Person's 15 and Alex Hicks' 14 paced No. 15 seed Troy (22-15), which was the surprise tournament champion in the Sun Belt Conference.

"We fought today," Troy coach Phil Cunningham said. "That's the one thing we wanted to do. We played without fear. You go into a game like this, that's the first thing you want to do."

The Trojans were 5 for 23 from 3-point range.

"I think we did a good job defending the 3 (because) that's what they like to do," Krzyzewski said. "That was going to be the key to the game."

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Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots the ball during the first half against the Troy Trojans in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Devils led 52-38 at halftime. That was a notable score because in Troy's Sun Belt Tournament final Sunday, the Trojans limited Texas State in a 59-53 final.

Duke hit four 3-point baskets in barely more than 4 1/2 minutes to open a 16-4 lead.

Troy was hanging around at 38-30 before an Allen 3-pointer and Tatum dunk in transition regained momentum for Duke.

That didn't last long because the Trojans scored the next six points.

"Duke was good. They did a great job," Cunningham said. "We got down 16-4 early it could have gone the other way in a hurry. We didn't allow that to happen."

The Blue Devils shot 10 for 17 on 3-pointers in the first half.

Seldom-used Duke center Antonio Vrankovic scored on a tip-in late in the first half for his first points since late January at Wake Forest.

NOTES: The teams had never previously met. ... Both teams needed a 4-0 mark in their conference tournaments to gain automatic NCAA bids. ... This was an East Regional game. ... Duke holds a top-three regional seed for an NCAA-best 28th time since 1985. ... Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski added to his record total of NCAA Tournament victories, now at 91. ... This was Troy's second time in the NCAA Tournament, the other in 2003 resulting in a loss to Xavier. ... Troy's 13-win improvement from last season marks the best turnaround in 29 years for the Trojans. ...Duke won two games in this building in the 2002 NCAA Tournament, but lost here last season when ACC member Clemson was using the facility as a temporary home.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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