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College basketball's biggest villain is finally back

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Tiger Woods is back on the course, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl and Grayson Allen is back to his annoying habits.

Duke’s senior point guard had been relatively quiet while the Blue Devils maintained a top-10 ranking all season. But the player who fans love to hate re-emerged in Saturday’s loss to Virginia.

Allen had two incidents which sent Twitter ablaze. First, he appeared to do what he’s infamous for doing — tripping another player. Allen tried to fight while guarding a Virginia player and appeared to try and trip the player to prevent him from getting around the screen.

That certainly doesn’t look like a normal attempt to get around a screen, and because of Allen’s past history with tripping opponents, he likely won’t get the benefit of the doubt.

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Allen’s next incident was far less ambiguous, with no doubt about his intentions. Late in the second half, Allen was part of a defensive trap against Virginia’s Kyle Guy.

Guy swings his arms and appears to make slight contact with Allen’s face. And just as basketball players are taught, Allen tries to sell the contact with an extremely demonstrative reaction.

The ref didn’t buy it and called a foul on Allen. During the dead ball, Guy offered to help Allen to his feet and Allen responded by slapping his hand away.

Allen slapping the hand away, along with his facial reaction, became social media fodder for Duke haters after the game. Compounded with a home loss to an ACC rival, it was not a good night for the Blue Devils.

After the game, Allen admitted he fouled Guy on the play and said Guy had no hard feelings about getting his hand slapped away.

“I leaned into it,” Allen said regarding his called foul. “It wasn’t intentional or anything like that. I talked to Kyle after the game, so that’s no problem. It’s fine.”

These types of incidents were so common for Allen during the past couple of seasons that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski stripped him of his captaincy over the summer. Allen regained his captain’s role just prior to the start of the season.

Allen hasn’t had the kind of season he would have liked after lat year’s disappointment. He looked like a possible NBA lottery pick after averaging 21 points per game in his sophomore year, but dropped to just 14 per game as a junior.

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Allen is averaging 14.7 points this year but has struggled as the competition has picked up. Allen averaged over 17 points per game in non-conference action, but is putting up just 11 per game in ACC contests.

The Blue Devils don’t have much time to dwell on their loss to Virginia as they host Notre Dame on Monday. The Fighting Irish are coached by former Duke assistant Mike Brey, and Brey is the only former assistant to ever defeat Krzyzewski head-to-head.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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