After struggling to gain an advantage through the first five minutes, the Blue Devils went on an explosive run and enter the locker room with a 59-25 advantage. Here are five observations from the first half of play:
Player of the Half: Cam Reddish
After Stetson took a 12-11 lead, the Blue Devils desperately needed a boost. Cam Reddish helped the Blue Devils open up a 30-plus point advantage with 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting beyond the arc. Reddish had his best 20 minutes of play so far this season in the first half against the Hatters. Fellow freshmen R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson have added 14 and 11 points, respectively, as well.
Too early to know if free-throw shooting has improved
After a dismal performance from the charity stripe in the Blue Devils’ match-up against Indiana— converting less than 65 percent of their attempts—Duke spent extra time in practice focusing on putting up shots. Foul shots have historically been a major part of the Blue Devils’ game and this will be increasingly so with Duke’s skill off the bounce this season. The Blue Devils only attempted seven free throws in the first half and with a 71.4 percentage, so it remains to be seen whether the improvement will be permanent or if there is still work to do in this sector.
Maybe pressing too high
In the first few scores for the Hatters, Duke gave up easy buckets in the paint off of Stetson drives. The Blue Devils were pressing high and the Hatters were able to easily space out the Duke defense and create driving lanes. The Blue Devils later adjusted this and moved into a 1-2-2 press. Duke stopped coming as far out from the paint, causing Stetson to have to start taking more attempts beyond the arc.
Big men unsuccessful from deep
In the first 10 minutes of the game, both Marques Bolden and Williamson attempted shots from downtown. With open lanes to the basket, and the game being close at the time, Duke should not be shooting these buckets but instead looking for other options. Generally, the Blue Devils needed to be more patient on offense. As Duke began to do that, the Blue Devils saw even more success, moving the ball well on offense to improve shot selection.
Defensive performance from Tre Jones
While Jones only played 11 minutes of the first half due to the early entrance of Jordan Goldwire, Jones was an important piece to help Duke gain momentum. The freshman was able to put pressure on the Stetson ball-handlers, forcing two consecutive turnovers right across the half-court line. This defensive intensity was key to give the Blue Devils more opportunity to gain offensive momentum.
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