Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Indiana

<p>Freshman Zion Williamson had a strong first half against Indiana.</p>

Freshman Zion Williamson had a strong first half against Indiana.

At the break, Duke back in a familiar position—firmly in control—as it leads Indiana 53-29. Here are five instant observations from the first half of this ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup:

Player of the half: Zion Williamson

At this point, are you even surprised to see Williamson in this spot? The freshman dominated early, with Duke taking advantage of Williamson's size to attack Indiana in the post, even though the visitors tried to throw a couple of double teams at the rookie to slow him down. The Spartanburg, S.C., native wound up with 19 points in the opening 20 minutes to go along with four rebounds and one block. Of course, Williamson added a pair of thunderous dunks to his highlight reel, including a wicked windmill after a steal near midcourt.

Trap and transition

The Blue Devils had a clear plan when it came to attacking the Hoosiers' youth, especially in the backcourt. With freshman Rob Phinisee and sophomore Al Durham handling the ball for the Hoosiers, Duke pressed hard from the get-go, forcing four Indiana turnovers in the opening minutes. And led by Williamson, the hosts cashed in on their early opportunity, getting out in transition to open up a 22-10 advantage in less than seven minutes.

So much for being free...

The Blue Devils once again struggled from the charity stripe. Both Marques Bolden and Cam Reddish missed a pair from the line before the under-12 media timeout and Duke finished the half a rough 5-of-12 at the line. Entering Tuesday night, the Blue Devils were shooting just 66.4 percent on free throws, and although they're getting fouled plenty en route to the basket, Duke has yet to show it can capitalize there.

Under the weather

During Monday's media session, R.J. Barrett was coughing up a storm and told reporters that he was dealing with a cold. The freshman certainly seemed out of rhythm on the offensive end in the beginning of the half, but he turned it on late, finishing 6-of-13 from the field for 15 points. Barrett will look to carry his strong end of the half into the second period of play.

Is there a lid on that basket?

The Hoosiers went without a field goal for more than four minutes at one point in the half, missing seven straight baskets as they were unable to take advantage of missed free throws and some empty possessions from the Blue Devils. Indiana finished the half 11-of-33 as a team and got outrebounded by Duke 23-21. The Hoosiers will enter the locker room down 24, thanks partially to 13 turnovers.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

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." 


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