PITTSBURGH – Marvin Bagley III dominated in his NCAA Tournament debut, pouring in 22 points to go with seven rebounds as Duke rolled by Iona 89-67 on Thursday.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year made 10 of 14 shots in 32 minutes, grabbed seven rebounds and knocked down his lone 3-point attempt as the second-seeded Blue Devils overwhelmed the 15th-seeded Gaels.
Grayson Allen scored 16 points and added a game-high nine assists for Duke (27-7), Trevon Duval finished with 19 points and eight assists and Gary Trent Jr. had 16 points and six rebounds as the deeper, more talented Blue Devils withstood an early push from Iona (20-14) to win going away.
Duke will play seventh-seeded Rhode Island (26-7) on Saturday. The Rams outlasted Oklahoma 83-78 in overtime earlier Thursday.
Roland Griffin led the Gaels with 21 points off the bench. TK Edogi chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds and Zach Lewis and Schadrac Casimir had 10 points each, but the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champions simply couldn’t keep up to fall to 1-13 all-time in the NCAAs.
Iona, making its third straight appearance in the tournament, actually came in with more March Madness experience than the freshmen-laden Blue Devils and while head coach Tim Cluess acknowledged before the game it would provide his team with a small advantage, at the end “talent is talent.”
And the gap between Duke and the Gaels came into full focus about midway through the first half.
Iona welcomed the chance to run with the Blue Devils. They did. For a while, anyway.
A jumper by Griffin pulled Iona within 26-23 about 9 minutes into the game as the two teams played at a breakneck pace. The Blue Devils upped the intensity a bit defensively and when Allen hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, Duke led 53-39.
A 19-7 burst to start the second half boosted the Blue Devils’ edge to 26 points and any concerns that Duke would falter as a No. 2 seed for the second time in six years vanished.
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