Grayson Allen thanks the Duke fans after his final game in Cameron

Duke senior guard Grayson Allen says goodbye to the crowd after his final game in Cameron Indoor Stadium in which the Blue Devils defeated UNC.
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Duke senior guard Grayson Allen says goodbye to the crowd after his final game in Cameron Indoor Stadium in which the Blue Devils defeated UNC.
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Duke

Duke's Grayson Allen's final game at Cameron is one he will always remember

By Jonathan M. Alexander

jalexander@newsobserver.com

March 04, 2018 12:37 AM

DURHAM

The night before he was to play his final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday against North Carolina, Grayson Allen said he could barely go to sleep.

He finally did, and the next day he woke up anxious. He was ready to play. Saturday just seemed to go by slow. He tried to take a nap, but 8:15 p.m. wouldn't come any quicker. He thought about all that he went through in his four years at Duke.

There were highs, from the national championship during his freshman year, to the All-American award in his sophomore season, to his game-winning shot against Virginia that year, and his 37-point performance against Michigan State this season.

Then, as Allen said Saturday, "there were a lot of lows."

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That includes his tripping incidents in his sophomore and junior seasons, which led to him being scrutinized for the rest of his time at Duke.

And he thought about the support he had from his parents, his head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, the rest of the coaching staff, his teammates and the fans. He said he cried "about four times today." His mother had told him earlier in the week that this would be a celebration of four great years.

For Allen, only a win would complete that. And it happened. The Blue Devils were down 13 points in the second half, but came back to defeat the Tar Heels 74-64. It was revenge for Duke's defeat earlier in the season, when it lost to UNC 82-78 in Chapel Hill.

Duke senior guard Grayson Allen talks the emotion of playing his final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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Allen scored 15 points on Saturday, on 5-for-14 shooting, including two key three-pointers in the second half. He also had five assists and five steals.

“Look, I love that kid," Krzyzewski said. "For the rest of the time I coach here, for however long that is, I’m not going to have a senior like that because they’re going to be too good and they’re going to leave.

"To have a four-year guy who, depending on how much we play in the ACC and the NCAA (tournament) could be a 2,000-point scorer and a four-time academic all-ACC, an All-American, a National Champion, and an ACC Champion. The kid, if he was in the military, they would say, 'Well done, my son, well done.'"

With the just a few seconds left, and the game all but over, Krzyzewski called a timeout so Allen could be subbed out of the game and receive an ovation. As Allen walked off the court to the cheers of fans, including the likes of retired NFL player Tony Romo, actor Ken Jeong, and rapper 2 Chaniz, he embraced his coach with a big smile on his face. They hugged.

"I would have liked to have a senior night like that," Krzyzewski said. "Look I loved being at Army. Don't get me wrong, but it's not like this. So you get into those moments with your players. And I'm glad we shared that moment tonight."

This season, Allen has helped lead Duke to a 25-6 record. While it was his last game at Cameron, the journey is not over for Allen and Duke. The Blue Devils next play on Thursday in the ACC tournament. Allen hopes the Duke can win a national championship.

The Blue Devils will be a No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament and will have a double-bye.

That was the icing on the cake for Allen.

His teammates, who refer to Allen as "G," were excited for him.

"It’s been pretty amazing experience," sophomore forward Javin DeLaurier said of playing with Allen. "You’re talking about a guy who has been in some of the biggest moments in college basketball. He’s won a national title here. He’s going to go down as one of the all-time Duke players. It’s been very special to learn from him and play on the same court as him because he’s obviously a very talented player."

Duke freshman point guard Trevon Duval told his teammates in the huddle before the game that they had to make it a special night for Allen. He said Allen deserves it.

"He's been through a lot here," Duval said. "Been here for four years. He's gave us a lot throughout the year, so we kind of owe him tonight."

After the game, surrounded by his teammates, Allen gave a speech. He said he couldn't have done it without all the support from everyone. The crowd chanted his name and he received a standing ovation. He went down the sideline and gave the Cameron Crazies a high-five.

Then he walked off the court, through a door into Duke's locker room for one final time.

The Blue Devils lead by Marvin Bagley III respond and defeat North Carolina on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

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Alexander; 919-829-4822; Twitter: @jonmalexander