After an emotional come-from-behind win Saturday, the Blue Devils have stayed hot through 20 minutes of action against N.C. State.

Behind a strong offensive showing, No. 17 Duke leads the Wolfpack 44-38 at halftime here at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Points have come in bunches as the Blue Devils shot 6-of-13 from beyond the arc after struggling from deep in their last few contests.

Interim head coach Jeff Capel opened the game with the five players that were responsible for turning around Saturday’s contest against Miami—opting to leave junior Grayson Allen and sophomore Luke Kennard on the bench to begin the game.

But the starting group was unable to find the same type of magic it had against the Hurricanes and both teams were evenly matched through the first 10 minutes.

The Blue Devils looked to attack a struggling N.C. State defense early and took advantage with 12 assists on their 17 made field goals. Duke created some separation on the scoreboard with an 8-2 run fueled by triples by Allen and freshman Jayson Tatum. Allen finished as the Blue Devils’ leading scorer in the first half with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting, but six players had at least five points.

Defensively, the Blue Devils will have to find an answer for the Dennis Smith Jr. show in the second half. The freshman has a team-high 18 points for the Wolfpack on 6-of-10 shooting. Although Frank Jackson initially drew the assignment on the guard, N.C. State has run pick-and-rolls to help Smith Jr. attack Duke’s bigs and get to the rim at will.

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • Freshman Marques Bolden had a pair of near-dunks at the rim that he failed to convert. Despite finishing the half 0-of-2, the center has looked a lot more comfortable and confident on the court for a second straight game.
  • The Wolfpack were beat by Harry Giles on inbounds plays twice in the first half for easy looks down low. Giles also knocked in his first midrange jumper as a Blue Devil midway through the first half, finishing the period with eight points.
  • Monday was the first time a healthy Allen did not start for Duke since the Blue Devils’ game against Virginia Commonwealth last season.  
  • Duke used a late 7-0 run to create more separation before halftime, but Smith Jr. scored six points in the last minute to keep his team within a few possessions, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.