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ACC, Duke dropped the ball with Allen’s tripping

Duke%27s+Grayson+Allen+%283%29+is+called+for+the+foul+on+N.C.+State%27s+Cat+Barber+%2812%29+during+the+first+half+in+the+second+round+of+the+2016+New+York+Life+ACC+Tournament+on+Wednesday%2C+March+9%2C+2016%2C+at+the+Verizon+Center+in+Washington%2C+D.C.+%28Ethan+Hyman%2FRaleigh+News+%26+Observer%2FTNS%29
Duke's Grayson Allen (3) is called for the foul on N.C. State's Cat Barber (12) during the first half in the second round of the 2016 New York Life ACC Tournament on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) is called for the foul on N.C. State's Cat Barber (12) during the first half in the second round of the 2016 New York Life ACC Tournament on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) is called for the foul on N.C. State's Cat Barber (12) during the first half in the second round of the 2016 New York Life ACC Tournament on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

NICK THOMAS | Evergreen sports columnist

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The biggest story in college basketball at the midway point of the season is arguably Duke junior guard Grayson Allen and his tripping spree.

There have been multiple cases of Allen purposely tripping opposing players dating back to February of 2016, and Allen was most recently suspended during one game for tripping Elon junior guard Steven Santa Ana on Dec. 21.

Oregon junior forward and preseason AP All-American Dillon Brooks was placed in a similar spotlight after being awarded a flagrant two foul and subsequently ejected for kicking WSU senior forward Josh Hawkinson in the groin on Jan. 7.

Initial observations of both incidents draw knee-jerk reactions, but there are distinct differences in both cases after further review. These differences should have led to different punishments for each player, but that was not the case.

The incident between Brooks and Hawkinson looks terrible at first glance, as Brooks’ leg shoots up quickly and contorts itself directly into Hawkinson’s groin.

However, replay of the incident shows that Brooks’ leg was caught under his body, and he was possibly attempting to remove it in order to avoid serious injury.

Hawkinson said after the game that he thought the kick was intentional, but UO Head Coach Dana Altman thought otherwise.

“His leg was caught awkwardly,” Altman said on Jan. 9. “That was (Brooks’) description of it. That’s what I saw too.”

As the Pac-12 announced one day later that Brooks was not going to face any additional punishment, it seems that a flagrant one foul and no ejection from the game would have been sufficient.

Allen, on the other hand, was suspended, not by the ACC but by Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. That being said, the ACC arguably views Allen’s incident as no more severe than Brooks’.

Allen received a great deal of criticism following his third tripping incident, but the real focus here needs to be on Duke and the ACC for not following through with sufficient punishment.

Allen’s suspension was originally listed as “indefinite,” but ultimately resulted in just a one-game absence. Perhaps more fittingly, one loss, as Duke was routed by Virginia Tech 89-75 on Dec. 31 as Allen watched from the bench.

Following the loss, and just days after Krzyzewski announced that he was taking a leave of absence to recover from back surgery after the team’s next game, Allen found himself back in the starting lineup on Jan. 4 against Georgia Tech.

If this was an isolated incident, the punishment is sufficient. But Allen’s tripping of Santa Ana was not an isolated incident, and the responsibility of ensuring that the displayed behavior does not happen again falls on both the university and the conference.

Unlike Brooks’ case where the incident was isolated and ambiguous, there was no reason for the ACC not to intervene. The mandated apology and one-game suspension seem to have held off further judgement. That is, until another tripping incident from Allen rolls around.

If Allen goes the rest of the season without tripping another opponent or displaying unsportsmanlike and malicious behavior, good for Duke. The coaching staff fixed the problem and maximized the amount of time their own preseason All-American is on the floor.

But, if Allen causes even the slightest of controversies for the rest of the season, the ACC will have to take matters into its own hands and out of Krzyzewski’s.

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ACC, Duke dropped the ball with Allen’s tripping