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Duke's Grayson Allen has tripped opponents repeatedly, shoved an opposing coach and engaged in some pretty dirty play this season.

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From 'Grayson Allen reveals how he deals with being the villain' - https://nypost.com/2018/03/25/grayson-allen-reveals-how-he-deals-with-being-the-villain/

No one understands the enormity of the stakes at Sunday’s Midwest Region clash-of-the-titans, blue-blood battle better than Grayson Allen, The Player They Love to Hate on The Team They Love to Hate:

One more survival, one more advance toward that One Shining Moment.

Or One More Darkest Hour.

The Jayhawks — back-to- back losers in the past two Elite Eight — are all too familiar with One Darkest Hour.

Only one player on the CenturyLink Center court can speak to what it means to reach a Final Four and bathe in the euphoria of the last Monday night of the college basketball season with the whole country watching.

The Jayhawks want what Allen experienced when he and Jahlil Okafor and Justice Winslow and Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, and coach Mike Krzyzewski — for the fifth time — cut down the nets inside Lucas Oil Stadium three years ago.

April madness.

Allen is the leader of Duke’s fab-four freshmen — all of whom may be playing in the NBA next season. Which means this would be their first and last chance at a Final Four.

“Around that time is the most fun I’ve had playing basketball,” Allen said. “You just understand that you’re at the final point of the season, you’ve made it further than all the other teams in the country. There’s four teams left. You won a regional championship, you got to cut down the net after the Final Four.

“There’s so much that goes into it. And for a lot of guys, it’s where you dream about playing. If you watch college basketball growing up, you picture yourself in that moment, you picture yourself playing in the Final Four on a huge stage.
 
Duke-Kansas the titanic clash March Madness is built for
“You know, when you get there, it’s almost surreal, and so it’s something I want this group to experience and I obviously want to experience again with this group.

“That’s why we need to come out and gift tomorrow and really try to take care of business against a great team.”

He was a freshman then, a bit part until it really mattered in the second half against Wisconsin, long before he became reviled as a serial tripper and the biggest Duke villain since Christian Laettner and J.J. Redick.

“Duke has had many lightning rods over the years, it’s a long list of ’em, a long list of white Duke basketball players that have been lightning rods,” Allen said. “I didn’t fully understand it before I came to Duke, but obviously I do now.”

Someone asked if he thrives on the villain role.

“No, I don’t,” Allen said. “I think I surprise people when I say that but I don’t. You learn to own it, I’ve learned to accept it. I don’t feed off of the boos, I don’t feed off anything like that. … No one likes to get booed, no one likes to get cussed out, no one likes to get yelled at by 20,000 fans when you go places. But that’s where mental toughness comes into play and that’s what I’ve learned.”

Lightning rods attract attention — even from officials.

“I think I’m a focal point for everyone,” Allen said, and smiled. “It’s obvious that all the fans are watching every move that I make, and so why wouldn’t the refs? The officials go over and talk to a lot of guys, it’s not just me. It’s just when it happens to me, it’s noticed.”

Allen won’t have to live in regret if Duke fails — Devonte’ Graham, however, will.

He is the Jayhawks’ senior point guard, and he grew up in Raleigh, N.C., a North Carolina Tar Heels fan.

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“I just disliked ’em,” Graham said when asked about his feelings toward Duke. “[The dislike] was pretty high.”

It really wouldn’t matter whether it is Duke, or Oregon, or Villanova, standing in the way.

This is his last shot at a Final Four.

“Last year we might have been a little tense, that’s why we didn’t shoot the ball [35 percent] as well, or personally I didn’t [0-for-7, 0-for-6 on 3-pointers],” Graham said. “This year, definitely planning on playing a lot looser, one through five, whoever’s on the court.”

Easier said than done.

The Jayhawks are the No. 1 seed. They will have the crowd on their side. Nothing new for No. 2 Duke.

For Allen and Duke, victory means Coach K passes John Wooden with his 13th Final Four appearance.

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