Duke’s bench playing like starters ahead of NCAA final

Duke's bench playing like starters ahead of NCAA final (Image 1)
Duke's bench playing like starters ahead of NCAA final (Image 1)

Duke’s four star players are getting a big hand from the Blue Devils’ role players, who have picked up their game at the most important time of the year.

Freshman guard Grayson Allen has been especially effective lately, grabbing five rebound and putting up nine points in the Devils’ 81-61 rout of Michigan State on Saturday, including dunk off his own rebound to give Duke a 19-point lead in the second half.

For him, Allen said it’s all about confidence.

“You know, all these guys and the coaches knew I could do it,” Allen said. “So to finally be able to get on the floor and do it, feels great.”

The Duke starters have always viewed the non-starters as important cogs in the team’s success, viewing them more than just guy who give the starters a breather.

“I don’t think those guys view themselves as role players. They view themselves as starters,” said freshman forward Justise Winslow. “When they come in, they view themselves as starters and its been beneficial.”

That confidence has been critical for Duke, a team that only goes eight deep.

Everyone on the squad was a star in high school, and Amile Jefferson said adjusting to a new role in college has been a smooth transition.

“It’s not hard at all,” the junior forward said. “Grayson, Marshall [Plumlee], me — whoever comes off the bench or is in the game trusts in each other and believes in each other.”

Plumlee and Jefferson each put up one point Saturday against the Spartans.

Duke meets the Wisconsin Badgers on Monday in the NCAA National Championship Game.

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