Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther, left, brings the ball up next to Duke forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ellen Schmidt)

Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther, left, brings the ball up next to Duke forward Wendell Moore Jr. (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ellen Schmidt)

COLLEGE HOOPS: No. 5 Duke wins battle of powerhouses over No. 1 Gonzaga

  • By W.G. Ramirez The Associated Press
  • Saturday, November 27, 2021 11:00am
  • Sports

Associated Press

Eds: UPDATES: Recasts lead. Adds quotes and details. With AP Photos.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In a town known for major championship fights, it seemed only fitting a long-anticipated 40-minute heavyweight bout between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 5 Duke take place in Las Vegas.

Paolo Banchero scored 21 points to help Duke hold off a turnover-prone Gonzaga team 84-81 on Friday night in front of an announced 20,389 fans — the largest basketball crowd ever in Nevada.

“It’s just a really big-time game, what a great crowd,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is in his final year at the helm of the Duke Blue Devils (7-0). “We thought it might be a showcase game and it was. But having this type of crowd was amazing. Obviously, we feel great about the win, and we think we beat an outstanding basketball team.”

That’s saying something, considering Gonzaga coach Mark Few shapes his program after Duke.

“We’ve always asked over the years before we’ve had to make decisions on anything — how we travel, how we operate, how we schedule, facility-wise — the first question always is, ‘What’s Duke doing?’” Few said. “I don’t think I can pay any higher respect than that.”

Unfortunately for Few, his Bulldogs’ best couldn’t match the resilience of Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils.

Gonzaga (6-1) battled back from a nine-point deficit thanks to Julian Strawther’s offensive prowess early in the second half. He scored eight of the Bulldogs’ first 14 points to help them get within two. But Gonzaga suffered through a 0-for-5 span down the stretch and turned the ball over three times to allow Duke to close the game on a 13-9 run.

“We felt like if we played our best and did what we do best, we were going to have a real shot for the win,” Banchero said.

Wendell Moore Jr. scored 20 points and Mark Williams added 17 points and 9 rebounds for the Blue Devils.

Strawther led Gonzaga with a career-high 20 points and 10 rebounds, including shooting 57.1% from the floor in the second half. Drew Timme added 17 points, Chet Holmgren had 16 points and Rasir Bolton chipped in 15 for the Bulldogs.

“The beautiful thing is we all believe in each other,” said Strawther, who registered his second career double-double. “Even if I miss a couple of shots, they’re going to keep looking for me. That’s what really keeps me going. They showed a lot of belief in me after I missed a few.”

Gonzaga, however, had 17 total turnovers for the game.

The Bulldogs did claw their way back to a 53-52 lead, and the game quickly became a battle of Duke’s relentless defensive pressure and Gonzaga’s precise passing through lanes the Bulldogs created on the fly.

“It felt like a Final Four-type game,” Timme said. “The atmosphere was great and it was two Goliaths going at it.”

After Gonzaga took an early 4-0 lead, Duke quickly established dominance with a 17-6 run, with Banchero and Williams putting on a show for the heavily favored Duke crowd.

The Bulldogs closed the gap to three, 19-16, but Banchero scored 13 of Duke’s next 21 points. Holmgren, who had to sit midway in the first half due to foul trouble, returned with 1:27 left in the half and drained a soft one-handed jumper followed by a 3-pointer by Strawther.

Duke held a 45-42 lead at halftime.

STAR-STUDDED SEATING

Among the record crowd: former boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, former Cy Young winner and World Series champion Orel Hershiser, PGA golfer Brooks Koepka, former NBA player Marcus Banks and sports agent Rich Paul.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils faithful proved it travels well, with the majority of the crowd inside T-Mobile Arena draped in Duke blue.

Gonzaga: Before Friday night, the Bulldogs trailed for a total of 3:18 in four games — against Texas, Alcorn State, Bellarmine, and UCLA. Gonzaga trailed for more than 20 minutes against Duke until retaking the lead on a pair of Timme free throws at the 17-minute mark of the second half.

UP NEXT

Duke: Visits Ohio State on Tuesday.

Gonzaga: Hosts Tarleton State on Monday.

———

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25

More in Sports

The Seattle Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez reacts after hitting a two-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Monday in San Diego. (Gregory Bull/The Associated Press)
Another Kid shining in center

Touted rookie playing with joy

PORT ANGELES LEFTIES: PA strands too many runners against Fish Sticks

The Port Angeles Lefties managed nine hits against West… Continue reading

Lavender Tour seeking volunteers

The Tour de Lavender cycling event is looking for volunteers… Continue reading

Washington State defensive end Ron Stone Jr., center, celebrates with Willie Taylor III, left, and defensive lineman Ty Garay-Harris, right, as he holds the Apple Cup Trophy after WSU beat Washington 40-13 in an NCAA college football game, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
MICHAEL CARMAN COLUMN: Cougs clinging to Pac-12 raft

A proxy war of the sporting variety flared up last week when… Continue reading

Cycling tour will criss-cross Peninsula

Bicycle Rides Northwest’s Olympic Peninsula-wide cycling tour will bring… Continue reading

Wilder Senior's Landon Seibel looks back at the umpire as he is called safe at second base as Lakeside BR's Ethan Babauta puts the tag on Seibel on Sunday in the Dick Brown Memorial Tournament semifinal. Wilder Senior won 15-5 to advance to the championship game, which was won by WBC Colts Black. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
DICK BROWN TOURNAMENT: Wilder Senior second at tournament

Rally comes up just short in seventh inning

Most Read