HALFTIME: Duke 27, Syracuse 16 The biggest story of the first half was the return of Marvin Bagley III, who had missed the previous four games with a right knee sprain. And although he did not get the start, the star freshman announced his presence in a big way with a series of electrifying dunks in Duke’s strong first-half performance. Bagley and the No. 5 Blue Devils lead the Orange 27-16 at halftime at Cameron Indoor Stadium behind another strong defensive start for one of the best offensive teams in the nation. Bagley and classmate Wendell Carter Jr. have combined for 20 points and nine rebounds so far—Bagley leads the way with 14—and have looked impressive across from each other down low in Duke’s zone defense. In the third start of his career, Javin DeLaurier, who started in front of Bagley, opened the scoring for Duke on a neat putback on the Blue Devils’ opening possession. Although Duke went cold offensively for the first few minutes of the half, starting 1-of-5 from the field, Bagley’s first bucket back and then a breakaway dunk off a steal by Grayson Allen five minutes into the game got the offense going to open an early 12-6 lead. One of the most significant trends for the Blue Devils in their four-game winning streak has been defense—since losing on the road at North Carolina, Duke has held its opponents to just 58.5 points per game, the ninth-fewest in the NCAA during that stretch. Saturday started no different for the new-look Blue Devils, who held Syracuse to only four field goals in the opening 10 minutes of the game, and just a 27.6 percent shooting percentage in the half. Outside of his emphatic steal and breakaway dunk in the first five minutes of the game, Allen struggled to get going on offense for much of the half after posting his best scoring numbers of the season during Duke’s past four games. Allen finished the half with two points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field and 0-of-5 from behind the arc. Things to watch in the second half: Duke’s new tough defense has showed up so far for the fifth game in a row, as the Blue Devils have forced Syracuse into nine turnovers. Duke has not shot well from the field but is taking good care of the ball, committing just four turnovers so far. Both teams were ice cold from deep in the first half, shooting a combined 0-for-20 from beyond the arc. The Blue Devils were shooting just under 40 percent from the perimeter entering Saturday’s game.