OMAHA, Neb.—With a trip to the Final Four on the line, top-seeded Kansas and No. 2 seed Duke are locked in a tight one.
Behind a balanced effort, the Blue Devils lead the Jayhawks 36-33 at the half. Neither team is shooting well from long distance, but Duke held a slim advantage for most of the half thanks to the efforts of freshman Trevon Duval.
After the Blue Devils opened up a four-point lead early in the first half, the Jayhawks responded with a 10-4 spurt of their own to regain the lead. The largest lead in the hotly contested first half has been four points.
In front of an electric crowd, both teams got off to cold starts at a frenetic pace—missing 11 of their first 12 shots combined. The Jayhawks opened the game doubling Marvin Bagley III on catches near the basket, forcing the Blue Devil guards to beat them.
Early in the game, Duval did just that, slicing to the basket and spotting up on the perimeter. The guard scored seven early points and helped Duke build a small lead. The freshman also brought intensity on defense and is the Blue Devils' leading scorer with 13 points.
Fellow freshman Gary Trent Jr. struggled to open the game, as his cold spell from beyond the arc continued. After missing his last three triples against Syracuse, Trent missed his first five 3-pointers Sunday. But Trent found the range on a look from deep before halftime and has nine points on 4-of-10 shooting after 20 minutes of play.
On the other end of the floor, Kansas tried to use guard Lagerald Vick in the middle of the zone, but the junior struggled as he forced ill-advised lobs and tough floaters. Despite getting hammered by Duke in the paint by a 24-16 margin, the Jayhawks got their offense by hitting shots from beyond the arc.
Kansas hit four triples in the first 10 minutes of the contest, with Graham and Mykhailiuk hitting a pair apiece. Although guard Malik Newman came into the game playing some of his best basketball of the season, the sophomore has been held mostly in check by the Blue Devils.
After 20 minutes of fast-paced basketball, the Blue Devils will need to clamp down on the Jayhawks' perimeter weapons to clinch their trip to San Antonio.
Here are a few other observations from the half:
- Freshman Wendell Carter Jr. has had an extremely quiet first half and picked up a pivotal third foul with more than four minutes to go before halftime.
- Sophomore Marques Bolden displayed some good two-way basketball with a block on one end leading to a dunk for himself on the other.
- On the other hand, sophomore Javin DeLaurier got the early hook from head coach Mike Krzyzewski after stepping out of bounds on offense. DeLaurier played just three minutes in the first half.
- After playing in front of a decent-sized Duke contingent Friday, the Blue Devils are playing what feels like a road game in the CenturyLink Center—with Kansas fans holding roughly a 70-30 advantage over Duke.
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