When Duke and North Carolina met just more than three weeks ago in Chapel Hill, offense was the name of the game for the first 20 minutes.
Thus far, however, it's been much more of a defensive battle as the Tar Heels head into the locker room with a lead against their rival Blue Devils.
At the break, North Carolina leads Duke 35-25 anchored by Cameron Johnson's 10 points. Duke has been led by a balanced offensive effort, with eight different Blue Devils registering at least a point while holding the visiting Tar Heels to 38.2 percent shooting from the field.
After the Blue Devils opened the night with the first four points of the contest, the teams went back and fourth on the scoreboard. The lead changed hands five times in the half along with five ties.
Like North Carolina, Duke has had its own offensive woes, hitting just one shot from beyond the arc on 10 tries. Even as the Tar Heels went scoreless for more than three minutes, the Blue Devils were unable to pull ahead by more than four, going up 18-14 on a thunderous Grayson Allen slam.
But with North Carolina finding its offensive rhythm during a 18-5 outburst to take a 5-point lead at 32-23, Duke needed a run of its own—especially with both its starting big men, Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr., sidelined by foul trouble after the duo was each whistled twice in the early going.
The Blue Devils were unable to get much going, though, as they missed seven straight field goals in the final minutes of the half and went scoreless for more than four minutes as the Tar Heels stretched their advantage.
Kenny Williams knocked down a triple in the closing seconds to give the visitors the first double-digit lead of the night.
Here are a few observations from the first half:
- Duke has struggled mightily from the free-throw line, missing five of its first seven at the charity stripe en route to 4-of-14 in the opening half.
- It's been a slow start to Senior Night for Allen—despite a powerful dunk in transition, the Blue Devil captain has only seven points—which still leads the team—and has yet to knock down a 3-pointer.
- The rebound battle so far leans in favor of the visitors, with North Carolina currently up by a 29-22 margin.
- Bagley picked up his second foul of the night with just more than six minutes remaining in the half, and hasn't played much since. Carter got his second just a minute later, and Allen also has two.
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A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak."