Halftime: Duke 28, Pittsburgh 28

Many expected the Blue Devils to dominate in head coach Mike Krzyzewski's first game in a month following lower-back surgery.

But Duke is getting all it can handle through 20 minutes from a tough Pittsburgh team.

The Panthers, who have lost seven straight games, held the Blue Devils scoreless the last 4:55 of the half to tie the game at 28 heading into the locker room. Although Duke used a 10-0 run to take a 28-22 lead led by Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, Pittsburgh's zone defense and methodical offense slowed the home team down toward the end of the period.

Jefferson and Kennard combined for 18 points to pace the Blue Devils, who went just 3-of-13 from 3-point range and failed to capitalize on eight Panther turnovers.

Krzyzewski made a change in the starting lineup, inserting freshman Frank Jackson in place of senior Matt Jones. Although Duke started the game on a 9-4 run and Jackson had three assists, the rookie is 0-of-4 from the field.

Jones played seven minutes in the opening period as the Blue Devils struggled to find an answer for Panther forward Michael Young, who poured in 12 points and sparked Pittsburgh's early 9-2 run that quieted the home crowd. Duke is switching every screen so far, opening driving lanes for the Panthers and leading to a number of mismatches.

Although the Blue Devils seemed to find their footing with a 10-0 spurt to turn a four-point deficit into their six-point lead on a Grayson Allen 3-pointer, Pittsburgh responded well again down the stretch of the half to put itself in position for a potential upset. 

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • For the second straight game, Duke has come out more motivated on the defensive end, forcing multiple shot-clock violations and pressuring the ball on the perimeter.
  • The Blue Devil frontcourt, specifically Giles and Jefferson have been very active in moving when Duke’s talented guards get into the paint, resulting in easy buckets.
  • Giles had a strong offensive half, with an and-one on an alley-oop over the top of the Pittsburgh zone and a nice mid-range jumper. He has five points in seven minutes off the bench.
  • Allen is focusing on distributing so far, with just three points on 1-of-4 shooting but a game-high four assists. 

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