Duke leads Georgia Southern 47-32 after a half of play Tuesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and with the Blue Devils down a post player, it has been the consistent, impressive perimeter play of junior Matt Jones that has the No. 7 in the nation up by 15.
Tonight's contest is the first for the Blue Devils without senior captain Amile Jefferson, and though backup big man Chase Jeter has not heavily influenced play on either end of the court so far, Duke has made out just fine against the Eagles. Jones, sophomore Grayson Allen and freshman Brandon Ingram have combined for 28 points, with Jones leading all scorers with 12 points. Rookie Luke Kennard, who joined the starting lineup for the first time all season in lieu of Jefferson, tried to get in on the fun, but missed a pair of 3-pointers that swirled around the rim before being spat out.
Georgia Southern features just one player taller than 6-foot-7, so the absence of Jefferson—who has dominated the boards all season—was not felt quite as severely through the first 20 minutes. This was helped, of course, by the fact that the Blue Devils lit up the scoreboard with an exceptional outing from behind the arc. Through the first five minutes, Duke went 3-of-6 from long range, with Ingram, Allen and freshman Derryck Thornton knocking down 3-pointers.
The score was close only in the early going, as a layup by Montae Glenn and 3-pointer by Mike Hughes had the Eagles leading 5-3 to open the game. Duke countered with a 9-0 run to claim a lead it has yet to relinquish. The Eagles made things interesting midway through the period, though, twice closing the gap to three.
A Jones trey with 8:56 remaining pushed the lead to 33-24, and, after an Eagle layup, Kennard went on a mini-spurt, scoring six-straight points for Duke to push the lead to 39-28.
Here are some observations from the first half:
- Despite Jefferson's injury, neither Sean Obi or Antonio Vrankovic have set floor on the floor following warmups. The Blue Devils seem to be sticking with a seven-man rotation for the time being.
- Jefferson was sporting crutches and a cast on the sideline before tonight's game. He took a spot in the middle of the Duke bench, passing on wisdom to Jeter throughout the half.
- Allen soared for a thundering two-handed put-back slam with 16:50 remaining that you're probably watching on Vine right now.
- Thornton has six points to his name, with three coming off a period-closing corner trey.
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