PORTLAND, Ore.—After coming out unprepared for Portland State’s run-and-gun style of play, the Blue Devils adjusted by becoming more aggressive and physical in the second half.

Duke battled for rebounds coming out of the locker room, grabbing seven more boards in the second half than the first despite the pace slowing down significantly. The Blue Devils had 16 second-chance points in the final 20 minutes, pulling away with the help of several putbacks from Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. en route to a 99-81 victory.

"In the second half, I thought we played real well," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Kind of a crazy game with all the physicality, but for a young team like ours...it was a hard-fought win."

Duke was on its heels in the first half, often unable to defend against the 3-pointer when the Vikings launched a fast break. Portland State senior guard Deontae North torched the defense in transition, going 4-of-5 from deep and scoring a team-high 20 points before the halftime buzzer. 

Meanwhile, Duke was forced to go small to match up with Portland State’s guard-dominated lineup. Sophomore big man Marques Bolden played 14 minutes in the first half—the most he has played in a game all season—but had four guards around him for some of that time, with freshman starter Wendell Carter Jr. only playing seven minutes. 

“For us, it’s more of an unconventional team because they can have five guards out there at the same time," Krzyzewski said. "They’re old with four seniors, a junior, and well-coached."

But the Blue Devils bounced back in the second half and controlled the pace of the game, using a more typical lineup that maximized their strengths. Carter was more aggressive during the second half—after scoring only three points and collecting no rebounds in the first period, he finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. The Blue Devils finished with nine blocks in the game, led by three from Bolden.  

“I feel like I let my team down in the first half,” Carter said after the game. “I didn’t play well at all, so I just got inside myself, talked to myself, got myself back ready. By the second half, I did.”

Duke’s aggressiveness at both the offensive and defensive ends also put the Vikings in heavy foul trouble. Five different Portland State players fouled out, including North around the 9-minute mark after he was assessed a technical foul from the scorer's table

With Duke taking control of the paint and limiting driving lanes in the second half, the Vikings' 3-point shooting also suffered. Portland State shot 50.0 percent from deep in the first half but only 26.3 percent in the second, hampered by the loss of key players and its inability to get good looks in the halfcourt set.

Bagley was a bright spot for the Blue Devils throughout the game. The Phoenix native racked up a game-high 15 rebounds and scored six of Duke's first 18 points of the second half on second-chance putbacks. Senior guard Grayson Allen and the Blue Devil backcourt continued to struggle from long range—Allen is now just 2-of-16 from 3-point range in Duke's last three games—but the Blue Devils' effort on the offensive glass offset some of the misses.

"We weren’t going to our strengths, and we kind of came out sluggish, but going into the second half, we had to wake up," Bagley said. "These are going to be the type of games that are going to be like that if we don’t come out ready to play."

The end of the game got a little too physical for Krzyzweski’s liking. Near the end of the second half, Allen was fouled hard by Bryce Canda while going up for a dunk and was assessed a technical foul for clapping and gesturing to the crowd.

Krzyzweski yelled at Allen to “shut up” during the official review that followed the foul and continued to berate him in the huddle after the play. 

Duke’s next test is Friday at 5:30 p.m. against Texas and top-five freshman Mohamed Bamba. With the short turnaround and fast tempo lingering from Thursday's game, the Blue Devils may need to tap into their bench again to get contributions from Bolden and 7-footer Antonio Vrankovic to match up with the Longhorns' physicality. 

Bamba, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound forward from New York, will be waiting on the other end, and although he scored just six points Thursday against Butler, the big man has pulled down 22 rebounds in Texas' last two contests.

‘This game definitely prepared us a lot, let us know not to ever doubt our opponent no matter who it could be,” Carter said. “Just go and recover and be ready for another battle tomorrow.”