South Carolina ends Duke's crazy season in the second round
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Deep down, Duke's season seemed destined to end this way from the very start.
The Blue Devils could never quite get a handle on the season, and it showed in their turnover-filled 88-81 loss to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
As powerfully constructed as Duke’s roster seemed when it garnered 53 first-place votes as the Associated Press' preseason No. 1 team, there was always something off, starting with freshman phenom Harry Giles, who was already recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, having his knee scoped just as practice was set to begin.
Freshman Jayson Tatum missed the first eight games with a foot injury, and that news was met with the odd announcement that freshman forward Marques Bolden literally just woke up one morning with a leg injury that kept him out the first eight games.
There was Grayson Allen’s bizarre behavior in tripping a third opponent in two seasons that earned him a one-game suspension. Even coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t immune to the season’s vicissitudes, missing seven games while recovering from back surgery.
Duke had plenty of flashes to make it seem like it had put it all together. The Blue Devils' run through the ACC tournament, winning four games in four days, made a Final Four trip seem possible.
Ultimately, the flaws that appeared throughout the season showed up again.
Defensively, they couldn’t stop dribble penetration, and their frontcourt was overwhelmed. Plus, the Blue Devils' lack of a true point guard hurt against the Gamecocks, as they fumbled their season away with 18 turnovers.