HOUSTON—With all the hoopla about NRG Stadium being a killer for 3-point shooters, Duke surely wasn't deterred in the first half, using its outside touch to open up a 31-26 lead over Gonzaga at the intermission.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs seemed almost intimidated by the prospect of letting it fly from beyond the arc—attempting just two triples despite averaging 7.1 attempts per game.
Tyus Jones had the offense working in the first half, scoring 11 points and adding three assists. Justise Winslow meanwhile was uncharacteristically quiet, scoring just five on 1-of-6 shooting.
Gonzaga was led by their star Kyle Wiltjer, who effortlessly scored 13 points. It was Kevin Pangos who was curiously quiet for the Bulldogs, going scoreless in the first half.
Here are some observations from the first half:
- Kyle Wiltjer had no luck posting up the stronger Justise Winslow, but he did have his way with both Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson when they attempted to stop the WCC Newcomer of the Year.
- Jahlil Okafor is giving up a ton of ground to Przemek Karnowski in the paint, but the Polish big man seems more content to dish than swish.
- Matt Jones gave Duke an unexpected early lift, scoring five points before the first media timeout.
- Karnowski picked up his second foul with 11:44 left in the first half, relegating him to the bench for the rest of the half. However, without Karnowski, Gonzaga was able to close off the paint to the Blue Devils and were able to cut into the lead.
- With Karnowski sitting, Domantas Sabonis took over, scoring seven points and ripping down four rebounds. The dominance ended when Sabonis picked up his second and third fouls in quick succession with less than two minutes left in the half.
- Justise Winslow briefly exited with a left ankle injury, but returned looking no worse for wear.
- The Blue Devils, who had just five assists all game against Utah on Friday, assisted on seven of 11 baskets in the first half today.
- As has been a problem all season for the Blue Devils, a prolonged shooting slump allowed the Bulldogs to get back into the game after Duke opened up a 11-point lead.
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