Grayson Allen said it energizes the group.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said it won’t intimidate his team.
With No. 7-seeded South Carolina playing 103 miles away from its home arena in Sunday’s second-round game against Duke, it will be a pseudo-home game for the Gamecocks (23-10).
South Carolina will play the No. 2-seeded Blue Devils (28-8) for the opportunity to advance to the Sweet 16, which for the East region will be in New York.
Never miss a local story.
Though South Carolina will have the edge of feeling like it’s at home, Duke has its own advantage.
Friday’s 93-73 win over Marquette was South Carolina’s first tournament victory since 1973. It was 0-5 between now and then.
Duke, on the other hand, made its 41st tournament appearance after routing No. 15 Troy, 87-65, Friday. The Blue Devils have been a top-3 seed 28 times since 1985, which leads the NCAA. Duke is 108-35 overall in the tournament, the country’s best winning percentage.
Krzyzewski has won a record 91 of those games; the only others to coach at least 90 are late UNC coach Dean Smith and his former assistant and current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
Duke may not be worried about a little – or a lot of – noise.
“You know, we’re OK,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re fine. We always play in front of a packed arena. And when we’re on the road, we’re always in an arena where people want to beat us. We’d rather have an upbeat crowd. I don’t think it will hurt us.
“If we lose, it won’t be because … they had more people here than we did.”
Duke was 3-6 on the road, including the regular-season finale before a raucous UNC audience.
Allen is used to a hostile crowd, one that has typically boos and jeers him since his tripping incident at Elon in December. He was suspended one game and had his captaincy stripped as a result.
He’s booed when he steps on the court or touches the basketball.
Allen said he filters out the noise. He consistently offers Duke an extra scoring threat, even when he comes off the bench. He hasn’t started since Duke’s 78-75 loss at Syracuse on Feb. 22; he missed the following game at Miami on Feb. 25 with an ankle injury. Freshman Frank Jackson has been the team’s starting point guard.
In the first round, Allen led the Blue Devils with 21 points off the bench, going 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
There was a light round of boos from Troy’s small crowd, which won’t compare to what South Carolina will provide Sunday.
“We’ve played in a lot of games like that,” Allen said. “We know they’re going to have a big crowd, but we like it that way. There are going to be a few Duke fans there, too, and some South Carolina fans peeking around to boo us.
“Really, we like playing in games where there’s noise in the crowd.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan