Halftime: Louisville 34, Duke 30

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—After getting run off the court in the second half of Tuesday’s loss to Florida State, Duke has shown much more fight in the first half against the Cardinals.

But to notch its first road win in conference play, the Blue Devils will need to take their play to another level.

No. 7 Duke trails No. 14 Louisville 34-30 after 20 minutes of play Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. Despite playing without Amile Jefferson for a second consecutive contest, the Blue Devils led for much of the half before allowing the Cardinals to go on a 20-5 run and regain control of the game.

Duke came out with more intensity on the defensive end and deflected a number of passes, along with a pair of blocks by freshman Harry Giles. The Blue Devils clamped down on the perimeter for much of the opening period, but three consecutive triples by Louisville in the last four minutes of the half highlighted Duke’s inability to defend consistently.

Before finding their stroke from deep, the Cardinals took advantage of Duke’s miscommunication to get easy looks for center Anas Mahmoud down low. The junior finished the half with 13 points and seven rebounds and made life tough for Duke on the other end of the floor with his length affecting several possessions.

After committing four turnovers during a 3:41 scoring drought that allowed Louisville to retake the lead, the Blue Devils steadied themselves behind guards Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard, who combined for 19 points in the first half.

But despite shooting much better from the floor, Duke struggled late in the half as Louisville stepped up on the defensive end and was able to set up its full-court press after made baskets. 

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • Allen came out of the gates much more aggressive than in recent games, but struggled with three early turnovers.
  • Interim head coach Jeff Capel made an unexpected substitution early in the first half when he brought seldom-used freshman Javin DeLaurier into the game. The forward blocked one shot in his three minutes on the court.
  • The Blue Devils have struggled once again with foul trouble as Matt Jones, Chase Jeter, Giles and DeLaurier head into halftime with two fouls each and freshman Frank Jackson has three. 

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