HOUSTON— After getting off to a slow start from the field thanks in part to the quirky black curtain behind the basket, the top-seeded Blue Devils rattled off a 8-0 run late in the half to build up a 27-22 lead against fifth-seeded Utah going into the half.
Justise Winslow was active for the Blue Devils early—just as he has been pretty much every game in the second half of the season. Playing in his hometown, Winslow poured in eight points and five rebounds in the opening period. Jahlil Okafor scored six and Tyus Jones got hot late to add six points of his own for the Blue Devils.
Dallin Bachynski led the way in scoring for the Runnin' Utes with 11 points, despite only playing six minutes. Delon Wright, the heart of this Utah team, mustered just two points before being called for his third personal foul, relegating him to the bench. The Blue Devils employed a press in the point guard's absence and forced a few turnovers, but Utah scored the last five points of the half to cut a 10 point deficit in half.
Duke was propelled by its defense, forcing nine turnovers and holding the Utes to just 29.6 percent shooting in the half.
Here are some observations from the first half:
- Quinn Cook got the assignment of guarding Delon Wright, and had solid success early on despite the considerable size difference. Wright's only basket of the half came off of a fast break dunk.
- The first field goal of the game didn't come until the 16:07 mark, when Jahlil Okafor beat Jakob Poeltl on the block for the lay-in.
- Poeltl was a menace early on, owning the offensive glass and making the Blue Devils work really hard on the offensive end.
- Justise Winslow was active defensively, blocking two shots and contesting a number more in the first half.
- Utah's first 10 points all came from their centers, Poeltl and Bachynski
- The Runnin' Utes offset their poor shooting from the field with 11 offensive rebounds.
- Wright picked up three early fouls. He averaged just 1.6 fouls per 40 minutes coming into the game.
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