Blue Zone

The Devil's in the Details: Bagley and Carter are a two-man wrecking crew

They say the devil is in the details. But in Durham, the Blue Devils are in the details—and numbers.

Each week, the Blue Zone will dissect five key stats from last week's action in Duke sports, whether they be historic or underwhelming. This week, let the numbers take you inside the second week of the basketball season, a surprising victory for Duke football and the NCAA soccer tournaments. 


With all the eyes on the freshmen in Chicago Tuesday night, Grayson Allen stole the show, pouring in 37 points to lead the No.1 Blue Devils past No. 2 Michigan State 88-81. The senior shot an outstanding 63.6 percent from deep, canned seven treys and led a young Duke team down the stretch. With the game tied at 75, late Allen found an open Gary Trent Jr. on the wing, who sunk a triple.

On the next Blue Devil possession, Allen made a 3-pointer of his own over Miles Bridges to push the lead to six. After a Spartans basket, the cold-blooded shooter put away the game with another long ball as the shot clock wound down. The gutty performance put Allen as the early favorite for National Player of the Year. 

Find out the whole story - Grayson Allen scores career-high 37 to lead No. 1 Duke past No. 2 Michigan State


The frontcourt duo of Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. has certainly lived up to expectations thus far. Bagley recorded his third double-double of the season with a 19-point, 11-rebound showing against Southern Friday.

Meanwhile, Carter registered his first two double-doubles this week, contributing 12 points and 12 rebounds in the win against Michigan State. He followed up that performance with a 20-point, 11-rebound outing against the Jaguars. Duke is the only team in the country with more than three players registering multiple double-doubles, as point guard Trevon Duval has two of his own to push the team total to seven.

Find out the whole story - Duke controls offensive glass for critical second chances in marquee victory and Marvin Bagley III returns to lead Duke men's basketball past Southern


Suffering through a six-game skid, very few predicted that the Blue Devils would break through and beat Georgia Tech on Saturday. But the offense finally woke up from the two-and-a-half-month slumber to put up 43 points against the Yellow Jackets—the most points put up since the first week of the season of against North Carolina Central. Daniel Jones had two touchdown passes and Duke’s rushing attack broke through for 319 yards on 6.3 yards per carry.

Find out the whole story - PALPABLE BUZZ: Duke football puts up 43 points to blow past Yellow Jackets and Duke football outruns Georgia Tech's triple option in upset win


As the NCAA tournament continued for the women’s soccer team, the Blue Devils showed why they can contend for the national title, blanking their opponents 10-0 in two games. On Friday, Duke thumped Oklahoma State in the second round, vanquishing the Cowboys 7-0, led by goals from six different players and zero opposing shots on goal. The Blue Devils continued rolling Sunday, downing Texas in the Round of 16 3-0. The victory was the 22nd for the program this year, matching a Duke record. The Blue Devils will play Baylor in the quarterfinals this Friday with a chance to advance to the Final Four after missing out last year.

Find out the whole story - Duke women's soccer wins 7-0 to set program scoring record in NCAA tournament and Duke women's soccer posts third straight shutout to advance to Elite Eight


With goals from Kristofer Gardarsson and Max Moser, Duke men’s soccer advanced in the NCAA tournament with a 2-1 victory against Florida International University. Will Pulisic made seven saves throughout the contest Sunday evening to hold the Blue Devils' lead. They will play Fordham—which upset No. 11 seed Virginia—in Durham Saturday night.

Find out the whole story - Duke men's soccer wins first NCAA tournament match since 2011

Beyond the arc: Recurring 3-point woes concerning for Duke

Duke started off slow against Furman but eventually rolled to a 92-63 home win Monday. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways, stats and plays, and looks forward for the Blue Devils:

Three key takeaways: 

1.Marvin Bagley III got hot from the line

Entering Monday shooting just 38.9 percent from the free throw line, Bagley needed to prove that he could make free throws so teams don’t employ a “hack-a-Bagley” strategy to slow his production. He made positive strides in that direction, making 5-of-6 attempts from the charity stripe. As a whole, Duke didn’t make it to the line much, attempting just 13 free throws. 

2. What happened to Jordan Tucker?  

Entering the season as a highly-touted 4-star recruit, some predicted Tucker could play a key role off the bench as a 3-point sharpshooter. Instead, he’s played just six minutes all season and didn’t see the floor against Furman. Barring injuries ahead of him, Tucker is going to have to impress head coach Mike Krzyzewski a lot more in practice if he wants to play a role on the team. 

3. Alex O’Connell is going to play

The lanky freshman guard wasn't expected to make much of a difference this season for the Blue Devils, but O’Connell has burst on the scene as an impact player. Although he played just two minutes against Michigan State, he blew up for 10 points in 12 minutes against the Paladins and has been an efficient scorer when on the court. He could continue to see minutes in big games. 

Three key stats: 

1. 64 points in the paint

Once again, Duke dominated a smaller opponent in the paint, outscoring Furman 64-28 and outrebounding it 40-27. Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. combined for 17 rebounds as the Blue Devils won in the trenches. Duke’s big men will be tested against more physical competition this week as the PK80 continues. 

2. 11 turnovers

After turning the ball over 15 times against Southern, the Blue Devils cleaned it up a bit against Furman with just 11 turnovers. No player had more than two—Duke had an 18-11 assist to turnover ratio. Despite struggling to shoot well from the field, Grayson Allen did well facilitating, racking up six assists. 

3. 29 percent 3-point shooting

As a team, Duke had really struggled to shoot from beyond the arc outside of Allen heading into Monday. Those concerns were not quelled, as the Blue Devils made just 5-of-17 3-pointers against an undersized Furman team. Gary Trent Jr. has still yet to find his shot, finishing just 1-of-3 from long distance despite an improve shooting day from inside the arc. 

Three key plays: 

1. Carter dunk, 8:58 remaining in the first half

Duke had just pulled past Furman, and Carter’s slam helped sustain the momentum. Up just three points, Allen forced a steal and passed it to Duval, who found Carter in transition for a dunk to rile up Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

2. Bagley dunk, 7:05 remaining in first half

Duke got off to a sluggish start for the second straight game, but Bagley helped bail it out. He scored 11 points in just over two minutes as part of a 20-6 run to help the Blue Devils pull ahead, including two on this spectacular isolation dunk off a feed from Trevon Duval. 

3. Javin DeLaurier block, 25.6 seconds remaining in first half

Although Duke had a 16-point lead heading into halftime here, DeLaurier found a way to make it into the highlight reels with a massive block from behind on Furman’s Clay Mounce.  

Looking forward

Although the Blue Devils eventually rolled to a dominant win, they will have to clean up their shooting and maintain their improvements from the free throw line in order to beat either No. 7 Florida or No. 17 Gonzaga in the PK80 tournament this weekend, assuming it gets that far. Duke certainly has the size and athleticism in the post, but its shaky outside shooting remains a concern going forward. 

HALFTIME: Duke 49, Furman 31

After a lackluster performance against Southern Friday, the Blue Devils needed to come out strong in Monday night’s contest against Furman.

And despite another sluggish start, they did just that, to the tune of a dominant 24-8 run.

Led by freshmen big men Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr.'s combined 21 points and nine rebounds, Duke leads the Paladins 49-31 through the opening 20 minutes of play. Despite a meager three-point showing from senior Grayson Allen in the first half, freshmen Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval held their own in the Blue Devils' backcourt with 17 points between the pair.

The first minutes of play were disjointed for both sides. A monster block from Carter just two minutes into the contest got a rise from the Cameron Crazies, but it was not enough to shake the Blue Devils from their early-game funk. 

Duke's defense was virtually nonexistent through the first media timeout of the night, allowing Furman to take an 11-8 lead at the 16-minute mark. The Blue Devils returned to the floor and committed multiple turnovers before freshman sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr. sparked a turnaround for Duke.

The Columbus, Ohio, native connected on a jumper through traffic to bring the Blue Devils within three. Before the Paladins could even cross half court on the counter, sophomore Javin DeLaurier stripped the ball and took it down the lane for the slam.

Furman penetrated a bit deeper into Duke's defense on the next drive, but sophomore big man Marques Bolden swatted a layup away from the basket and and Trent drained a shot from beyond the arc to put the Blue Devils up 15-13 with 12:56 remaining in the first half.

Carter took over for Duke for the next few minutes of play. After getting fouled in the paint and knocking down both free throws, the Atlanta native tipped the ball in on a missed jumper from Bagley. Just 27 seconds later, Carter pivoted around the Paladin defense and slammed the ball home to increase the Blue Devil lead to five.

After the big man swapped out for DeLaurier, Bagley found his stride for Duke. He connected on a jumper at the 8:18 mark and got a layup to fall 30 seconds later for his first points of the contest. After the next media timeout, Bagley assisted on a Duval dunk and then found one of his own on the next trip down the floor, spinning to the basket and slamming it down with both hands. One jumper and 3-pointer later, Bagley had taken charge in scoring for the Blue Devils without having scored in the first 12 minutes of play.

Here are a few observations from the first half:

  • Although the Blue Devils gave up multiple early-half turnovers, they managed to force seven turnovers from the Paladins in the opening 20 minutes.
  • Duke continues to struggle from the foul line, shooting at a 66.7 percent clip thus far in the contest. 
  • The Blue Devils are shooting just 3-of-10 from beyond the arc despite a dominant 58.3 percent from the field.
  • Allen finally found his first points of the game with five minutes to go in the first half on a deep three ball.

Thoughts on the AP poll: Week 2

The Blue Devils retained the top spot in the rankings after prevailing in a tight game against Michigan State.

Allen puts Duke on his shoulders

In the 42nd matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 in college basketball history, senior Grayson Allen poured in a career-high 37 points, including two late triples to ice the game, in Duke's 88-81 win against the Spartans in Tuesday's Champions Classic in Chicago. Marvin Bagley III sat out the last 30 minutes of the contest after getting poked in the eye by teammate Javin DeLaurier, but the Blue Devils still dominated the boards with 25 offensive rebounds and slowed Michigan State down enough in a 2-3 zone defensively to come out on top. The Spartans dropped three spots to No. 4 following the loss.

Kansas outlasts Kentucky in Champions Classic nightcap

In the Champions Classic nightcap, the Jayhawks finished the game on a 10-4 run in the last three and a half minutes to beat Kentucky 65-61, with Malik Newman knocking down a critical 3-pointer to put Kansas in front by four. Freshman forward Kevin Knox—who spurned Duke for Kentucky last spring—led all scorers with 20 points, but the rest of his team shot just 15-of-42 from the field and did not make a 3-pointer in the sloppy game. The Jayhawks were also playing without five-star big man Billy Preston, who is being held out indefinitely while the school investigates how he acquired a car he proceeded to crash. Kansas moved up one slot to No. 3 in the latest poll, and Kentucky slid from No. 7 to No. 8.

UCLA struggles amid shoplifting distraction

2017 would not be complete without a spat between two of its loudest celebrities—Donald Trump and LaVar Ball—and the two have finally crossed paths in the Twitterverse after LaVar's middle son LiAngelo Ball and two of his UCLA teammates were detained for shoplifting during the team's trip to China for its season opener against Georgia Tech last weekend. The trio returned home Tuesday evening, with Trump taking credit for saving them from years in Chinese jail and demanding gratitude, which LaVar Ball refused to provide. The president did not take kindly to this rebuff.

On the court, the Bruins needed overtime to beat 27-point underdog Central Arkansas 106-101 Wednesday night and nearly lost before freshman Jaylen Hands made a free throw to tie it with 1.3 seconds left in regulation. Hands' three shoplifting classmates all remain suspended indefinitely, and UCLA dropped to a tie for No. 23 after a week of turmoil on and off the court.

Big Ten darling Northwestern gets crushed 

With most of the core returning from the program's first NCAA tournament team last spring, expectations were high in Evanston, Ill., for this Northwestern squad and head coach Chris Collins—a longtime assistant under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and a former Blue Devil guard. Not so fast. The Wildcats began the week with a loss to Creighton in a 92-88 shootout and ended it Sunday with a stunning 85-49 defeat at the hands of Texas Tech in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off title game. Northwestern dropped from No. 19 to well out of the rankings, but the Red Raiders curiously did not enter the rankings. 

Around the ACC: Duke off to hot start, Wake Forest imploding

The Blue Devils have started their season strong with a thrilling win against No. 2 Michigan State while most teams have yet to play ranked opponents. 

No. 1 Duke (4-0)

Outside of a dud that they still won by 17 points against Southern, the Blue Devils have played up to their lofty expectations thus far. Duke used its size to beat No. 2 Michigan State 88-81 and took care of business Elon and Utah Valley, in which head coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up career win No. 1,000. Marvin Bagley III has been everything promised and more, averaging 18 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He has gotten a double-double in every game he has been fully healthy. 

North Carolina State (4-0)

The Wolfpack haven’t had any real tests yet, but have beaten every lower-conference team it has played thus far by 18 or more points. Torin Dorn has led the way with 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. North Carolina State will have to take on No. 3 Arizona Wednesday in the Bahamas in the Battle 4 Atlantis. If it wins that game and its second round opponent, it will likely face No. 5 Villanova. 

Virginia (4-0)

The Cavaliers have been strong early, beating a tough VCU team in a perfect start. Kyle Guy has filled the scoring void of London Perrantes and Marial Shayok, scoring 19.7 points per game. Devon Hall has also proven himself as a worthy second option. 

No. 11 Miami (3-0)

The Hurricanes have dominated their opponents thus far by an average of 32 points and survived an injury scare to one of their top recruits, Lonnie Walker IV. Walker twisted his ankle Thursday against Florida A&M, but proclaimed himself ready to play Wednesday against La Salle. Ja'Quan Newton has led Miami with 14.0 points per game this season. 

Florida State (3-0)

The Seminoles lost a lot on offense from a season ago when they were a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament with Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac and Xavier Rathan-Mayes all departing for the pros. While the defense should be solid for Florida State, there are question marks about who will produce on offense. While he had struggled in the Seminoles' first two games, highly-touted recruit M.J Walker exploded for 22 points off the bench against Colorado State Sunday. If Walker can continue to produce alongside leading scorer Terance Mann, Florida State could be a tough team to beat. 

No. 13 Notre Dame (3-0)

ACC preseason player of the year Bonzie Colson is looking every bit the part so far, averaging 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game in his fourth year with the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has routed the likes of DePaul, Mt. Saint Mary's, and Chicago State so far, and will face its first ranked competition Nov. 30 against No. 2 Michigan State. 

Syracuse (3-0)

On an inexperienced team, lone returning starter Tyus Battle has led the way with 22.3 points per game against inferior competition. Outside of that, the Orange hasn't gotten much production from anyone else, something to watch for going forward. 

No. 9 North Carolina (2-0)

The Tar Heels have gotten out to an up-and-down start to the season after losing Joel Berry III briefly due to a video game-related injury. Berry returned in North Carolina’s second game, a win against Bucknell in which the Bison came close to pulling off an upset. The Tar Heels will also be without graduate transfer starting guard Cameron Johnson for four to six weeks after a knee injury. 

No. 18 Louisville (2-0)

After head coach Rick Pitino was fired amid scandal, the Cardinals haven’t looked great—they had to rally to beat George Mason and hold on for dear life to beat Omaha. While Deng Adel has been a lights-out scorer, Louisville has struggled on defense, letting up nearly 70 points per game in the early going. 

Boston College (4-1)

Outside of a tight loss to a Texas Tech team ranked No. 30 in efficiency, the Eagles have gotten off to a strong start to the season. Ky Bowman and Deonte Hawkins have played well for Boston College, but don't expect a team that has just six ACC wins in the last three years to keep up this pace—or anything close to it—once the schedule gets tougher. 

Clemson (4-1)

The Tigers have gotten off to a solid start thus far, but lost their only tough matchup thus far—a 67-60 loss to a tough Temple team. After finishing 6-12 in conference play last year, expectations aren't high at Clemson, but the Tigers certainly have enough to play competitive ball in the ACC. Donte Grantham has been lights-out for the Tigers, averaging 18.3 points per game on a blistering 75.0 percent from the field before adding another hot 6-of-11 performance against the Owls. 

Virginia Tech (3-1)

The Hokies haven’t exactly gotten off to the start they wanted. Virginia Tech fell to last year’s No. 273 ranked team in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings, Saint Louis, and struggled on defense, giving up at least 77 points in every game—including 93 against the Citadel. Justin Bibbs, Ahmed Hill and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have all scored more than 19 points per game, but the Hokies will have to clean up their defensive effort before conference play. 

Georgia Tech (1-1)

Playing against a UCLA team without LiAngelo Ball and two other freshmen due to their shoplifting charges, the Yellow Jackets dropped a close one to the No. 21 Bruins in China 63-60. Ben Lammers led the way with a double-double and nearly had a triple-double against Bethune-Cookman to help Georgia Tech avoid an upset in a 65-62 win. 

Pittsburgh (1-2)

It’s going to be a long season for the Panthers. Just two players from last year return to Pittsburgh's roster from a team that went 4-14 in the ACC, and the early results haven't been promising, to say the least. The Panthers lost to Montana and Navy and have beaten just UC Santa Barbara, a team that was No. 331 in efficiency last season.  

Wake Forest (1-4)

You can’t spell “yikes” without Wake Forest University. After losing frontcourt stars John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou to the pros, the Demon Deacons are in tatters, with ugly losses against Georgia Southern, Liberty, Drake and Houston—with just a home win against Quinnipiac. 

Key three: How can Duke get back to its dominant ways against Furman?

After a sluggish 78-61 victory over lowly Southern, Duke will look to get back to its dominant form Monday against Furman before heading to Portland to compete in the inaugural PK80 tournament against stronger competition. Here are the three keys to the game:

Improved Shooting from the Charity Stripe

Although free-throw shooting should not be a major factor coming down the stretch Monday night, a strong showing from the line would temporarily relieve some concerns. Friday night’s 64.9 percent conversion rate was a season-high for the Blue Devils, who attempted a whopping 37 attempts in the game. 

The main area of concern has been the shooting of the freshman frontcourt duo—Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. Bagley, who has gone to the line 18 times, is shooting just 38.9 percent, while Carter is shooting 66.7 percent on 21 attempts. The problem has also seeped into the backcourt, with Trevon Duval converting on just 58.3 percent of his opportunities. But Bagley says he isn't too rattled by his early shortcomings.

“I know I can shoot free throws,” Bagley said after the game Friday. “They’re just not falling for me right now. I’ve been shooting free throws my whole life and I've been making them. It’s just going to take little adjustments and small things, and it’ll eventually fall. I’m confident in that.”

Gary Trent Jr. regains his form

After starting the season hot, Trent has seen a considerable drop-off in his scoring, renewing concerns about this young squad's shooting ability. Against Elon and Utah Valley, the freshman shooting guard shot 46.2 percent overall and 53.8 percent from deep en-route to 34 total points. 

But against Michigan State, he shot just 3-for-14 overall and 1-for-7 from deep to contribute just seven points. His struggles continued against Southern with a 27.3 percent shooting performance for eight points. If Trent can return to his early season form and knock down shots, he will build up confidence and cause problems for defenses in the future. 

Run the half-court offense

Although it might be tempting to let Duval and the offense run in transition—where they have thrived thus far—playing a relatively easy opponent in Furman offers an opportunity to smooth out the kinks in Duke’s half-court offense. 

Against Southern, which did a great job of limiting the Blue Devils on the break, Duke coughed up the ball 15 times. Instead of pushing the ball Monday night, the young squad should try to work out set plays and improve on Friday’s performance. If the half-court set does not improve, stronger teams in ACC play will be able to limit the potent offense if they can slow down the pace. 

Making the grade: Duke picks up its first win in seven tries

After six straight losses, Duke finally rebounded and picked up its fifth win of the season, a 43-20 romping of Georgia Tech on Senior Day. With the victory, the Blue Devils now have a chance to make a bowl game even if they lose next week against Wake Forest. The Blue Zone hands out grades to every Duke unit: 

Offense: A-

Pass: Quarterback Daniel Jones had his best outing in a long time, completing 69.2 percent of his passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns. His completion percentage was the best of the season against FBS competition, and while he wasn’t very explosive, he helped provide the balance that Duke’s offense had been lacking in its six-game skid. 

Rush: Led by Brittain Brown's 14 carries for 116 yards, the Blue Devils exploded for 319 yards on the ground against the Yellow Jackets. Jones also got in on the action as Duke's second-leading rusher with 91 yards, including a late 32-yard score. The Blue Devils hadn't done better than 2.9 yards per carry since Nov. 14 against Florida State, and had a coming-out party averaging a whopping 6.3 yards per carry. 

X’s and O’s: Offensive coordinator Zac Roper began to lean on his power-running attack—something that he had gotten away from during Duke’s six-game skid—pounding the rock 51 times. In each of the Blue Devils’ four wins, they carried the ball at least 45 times, but had carried the ball an average of 33 times per game in their last five games. He also got creative, with Shaun Wilson throwing for a short jump touchdown to give Duke a 27-20 lead it never looked back from. The offense still struggled to finish drives for touchdowns in the red zone, but it was certainly a major step forward. 

Defense: B+

Pass: The Blue Devils did well to hold quarterback TaQuon Marshall to just 3-of-13 passing, despite giving up a few inevitable explosive plays against Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense. Ricky Jeune had a 45-yard catch and Qua Searcy had a 35-yard touchdown grab, but other than that, Duke locked down Marshall and the Yellow Jackets’ passing attack. 

Rush: The Blue Devils gave up a lot of explosive plays on the ground in the early going—they gave up three plays of 22 yards or more in the first half. But they tightened it up in the second half, giving up just one and allowing Georgia Tech to get just one first down. Against one of the most productive rushing offenses in the country, Duke's rush defense did well enough to keep its offense in the game despite allowing 277 yards on 5.9 yards per carry. 

X’s and O’s: Against the second triple-option team in a row, the Blue Devils were up to the task despite giving up two offensive touchdowns on their first two drives. They appeared well-prepared to stop Marshall and the Yellow Jackets and kept the offense in the game as they have done all season long. 

Special teams: B-

Austin Parker was perfect on three short field goals, but made just 3-of-4 extra point attempts. He punted just once for 45 yards. On the flip side, Duke’s return game was mediocre—T.J. Rahming returned just two punts for negative two yards and the kick return unit averaged just 20.7 yards per return. But the Blue Devils did do well to slow Georgia Tech’s kick return unit—it averaged just 17.1 yards on seven return. 

HALFTIME: Georgia Tech 20, Duke 20

Duke's offense is finally coming alive on Senior Day, though the Blue Devils' continued struggles in the red zone have kept them from taking the lead so far.

Duke is even with Georgia Tech 20-20 at halftime at Wallace Wade Stadium, chipping away at an early 14-3 deficit with the help of one of its most impressive plays of the season from Victor Dimukeje. The true freshman defensive end batted a pass from TaQuon Marshall into the air, caught it and dragged Marshall 26 yards into Yellow Jacket territory with 9:57 left in the half for the Blue Devils' first defensive stop of the afternoon.

Although Duke advanced inside the 10-yard line on the ensuing drive, it could only manage a field goal to trim the the deficit to 14-13. But after Georgia Tech quickly extended its lead with an 81-yard touchdown drive, its extra point was blocked, and the Blue Devils finished a well-executed two-minute drill with a two-yard run from Brittain Brown to tie it up. The touchdown marked the first time since Oct. 7 Duke has scored 20 points in an entire game.

Georgia Tech's first drive appeared to be stalled after two straight runs were stuffed, but on third-and-12 from the Duke 35-yard line, Marshall dropped back and found A-back Qua Searcy open downfield for a 35-yard touchdown pass.

The Blue Devils responded immediately with a 39-yard handoff to Shaun Wilson on their first play and marched into the red zone with the good fortune of a Daniel Jones fumble that popped straight to running back Brittain Brown, but their woes continued once they got close to the goal line.

On second down from the one-yard line, Jones tossed an errant pitch that Wilson had to fall on for a loss of 11 at the 12-yard line. Duke nearly turned it over for the third time of the drive on third-and-goal, when the Yellow Jackets dropped an interception, and Austin Parker salvaged the series with a 30-yard field goal to put the Blue Devils on the board.

Georgia Tech finished another long drive with a touchdown to take a two-possession lead, but the Blue Devils matched that score on the other end this time, as Jones threw a critical 11-yard touchdown pass to Wilson on the right sideline on third-and-8. Jones otherwise had a quiet first half, throwing for just 69 yards.

Here are a few observations from the first half:

  • After avoiding many injuries at all for the first two months of the year, two weeks in a row against the triple option have taken their toll. Linebacker Ben Humphreys has been on crutches on the sidelines after a late injury last week, and Jeremy McDuffie left in the first half after his knee buckled on a non-contact injury. Defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord, also went down, but jogged off the field and returned to the game.
  • Duke is putting more of an emphasis on running the ball offensively so far, and it has paid off, with Brown and Wilson combining for 110 yards on 10 carries.
  • The Yellow Jackets have rushed for 239 yards so far and scored a touchdown on every drive aside from their one turnover.
  • Mike Ramsay blocked Georgia Tech's third extra-point attempt, the second time he has blocked a short kick in as many weeks.

Beyond the arc: Struggles from free throw line concerning for Duke

Duke struggled in a 78-61 win against Southern, never able to pull away as expected. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways, stats and plays, and looks forward for the Blue Devils: 

Three key takeaways

1. Half-court offense struggles

Duke had been deadly in transition, with Trevon Duval pushing the ball up the court and either finishing himself or finding wide-open cutters or shooters. But Southern did a spectacular job of getting back on defense and limiting turnovers and preventing fast-break opportunities for the Blue Devils. When Duke was in the half-court set, the offense looked relatively stagnant and turned the ball over often.

2. Cold shooters

The poor shooting performance against Michigan State was overshadowed by Grayson Allen’s spectacular performance. However, the concerns are definitely present after a second straight struggle from Duke’s backcourt. Gary Trent continued his cold streak going 3-for-11 from the field and 2-for-6 from downtown, often missing wide-open looks. Meanwhile, Duval has yet to find his form outside of the paint, going 3-for-7 overall and 1-for-3 from deep. Allen also fell into a shooting slump, failing to hit a 3-pointer for the first time in nine games and shooting 33.3 percent from the field. 

3. Rebounding

As has been a trend all season, the Blue Devils have absolutely dominated the boards. By pulling down offensive rebounds and getting second-chance points, Duke has been able to overcome poor-shooting percentages and is now averaging 12.2 more rebounds per game than its opponents. Both Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. notched double-doubles—they have combined for five on the young season. 

Three key stats

1. 64.9 percent

Struggles from the charity stripe has been a disturbing trend for the Blue Devils. Friday's 64.9 percent performance was a season-high from the charity stripe—which would be problematic come conference play. Opposing teams may adopt a “Hack-A-Shaq” strategy and could benefit down the stretch if Duke cannot hit its free throws. Bagley, who has gone to the line 18 times, is shooting just 38.9 percent, while his frontcourt mate Carter is shooting 66.7 percent on 21 attempts. Duval has also failed to capitalize on these opportunities, converting on just 58.3 percent of his attempts.

2. Fifteen turnovers

Forced to operate primarily from the half-court, Duke had a season-high 15 turnovers. Many of the miscues were self-inflicted from poor passes to dropped balls as the offense never truly got into a rhythm until late in the first half. As more teams try to slow this potent offense by slowing the pace of the game down, the Blue Devils will need to a better job of running their half-court offense and taking care of the rock

3. Fifty-one rebounds

Duke outrebounded the Jaguars by 17, pulling down 51 boards, 19 of which came on the offensive end. The Blue Devils had three players who collected double-digit misses— Carter and Bagley both had 11 and Trent had 10. With one of the tallest teams in the country, Duke will look to keep up this pace and exploit smaller opponents. 

Three key plays

1. Bagley block – Allen behind-the-back layup

With Duke leading just 30-27 with just under six minutes left in the first, Bagley emphatically sent a Jamar Sandifer jumper in the lane the other way, which Allen scooped up at half-court. He pressed up to the lane and made a sweet around-the-back adjustment to finish with his left hand. The play sparked an extended run that gave the Blue Devils a 10-point cushion entering the break. 

2. Carter’s consecutive blocks

On four straight possessions, Carter swatted away Southern's shot attempts. Just a minute into the second half, he blocked a Jared Sam jumper. 32 seconds later, he disrupted another shot from Sam. Then he blocked Sandifer on two straight layup attempts. Carter had six blocks on the day. 

3. Javin DeLaurier block

Although the game was already decided by that point, DeLaurier had an amazing block with 1:48 left in the game. Following a Jack White turnover, the sophomore forward chased down Mubashar Ali from behind a smashed the layup attempt into the backboard, making the Cameron Crazies erupt. 

Looking forward

After a defining win against Michigan State, Duke was sluggish out of the gates and could not separate itself from the Jaguars, who had lost to Illinois by 47 points in their season opener. Although there should be no call for panic, there are some points of improvement that would go miles in developing this young team. 

Look for improved performance at the charity stripe and more efficient half-court sets against Furman before the Blue Devils head to the PK80 tournament in Oregon, where they could play the likes of No. 8 Florida or No. 18 Gonzaga. 

HALFTIME: Duke 42, Southern 32

With Marvin Bagley III back on the floor, No. 1 Duke utilized a deep bench and recovered from a slow start to lead Southern 42-32 after the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

The Blue Devils struggled with turnovers, with nine giveaways compared to Southern’s five, and allowed the Jaguars to go on a 7-0 run until Bagley ended it by with a pair of free throws. Duke began to hit a rhythm and take the lead after Southern tied the game up twice, as Gary Trent Jr. hit a three and then Bagley swatted the ball down the floor for Allen to score his first points of the game on a layup. Those plays started a 10-0 run to break a 27-27 deadlock.

Right from the start, Bagley and freshman Wendell Carter Jr. found each other for a quick dunk and continued to lead the Blue Devils from that point on. Carter got a block, grabbed the rebound and then hit a triple on the other side of the court all in a row in the early going. 

Bagley did not show much rust despite an injury to his eye that kept him out of most of Tuesday's Michigan State game, scoring 7 points on 3-for-3 shooting from the field in the first five minutes. Through the first 10 minutes of the game, Carter and Bagley accounted for all 19 Blue Devil points, and they finished the half with 26.

Duke continued its focus on offensive rebounding that was present in Tuesday’s game, with Grayson Allen getting his own rebound and lobbing the ball up to Bagley for a dunk. But the senior captain struggled to find his shot in the first half, remaining scoreless through the first 15 minutes.

Here are a few observations from the first half:

  • Duke freshmen dominated play in the first half, accounting for all but four of its first half points.
  • Duke had six turnovers in the first nine minutes, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski had to call an early timeout to settle his team.
  • Southern couldn’t stay out of foul trouble, but the Blue Devils strugglee to hit free throws, going 12-of-21 from the line in the first half.