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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half at Florida State

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Cam Reddish will not start against Syracuse.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Despite getting out to an early double-digit lead, a pair of Duke scoring droughts in the latter part of the first half allowed Florida State to take a lead in the final seconds with a 3-pointer to cap an 8-0 run. The Blue Devils trail the Seminoles 39-38 at halftime.

Player of the half: Zion Williamson

While Williamson had only 11 points in the first half–compared to RJ Barrett’s 13, including two 3-pointers–the freshman helped the Blue Devils secure second-chance opportunities with his ability to crash the boards. Williamson kept the play alive by grabbing his own rebound while also securing the rebound and making a putback on others’ shots as well. In the first half, Williamson had five offensive rebounds, with eight rebounds in total.

Early foul trouble

The Blue Devils have struggled to stay clear of fouls early on in the game throughout the season, with Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson regular culprits in particular. Williamson notched his first foul in the first 30 seconds of the contest, and both he and Reddish had one each by the first timeout. Juniors Jack White and Javin DeLaurier, who are essential to Duke’s tough defense, earned a pair of fouls in the four minutes he played. Despite some fouls in the first part of the game, Duke ended the first half with only seven fouls.

Duke strong in transition

After Florida State sunk a 3-pointer, the Blue Devils got the ball down the court quickly with Williamson driving to the basket to open up Barrett from beyond the arc. Barrett drained it to tie up the game at 7-7. In the latter part of the second half, Reddish took advantage of Florida State’s slower transition defense and hit a quick layup, and Williamson also dished an excellent outlet pass to Tre Jones for a fast-break reverse layup. Duke struggled on offense when it was forced to slow down into a halfcourt set.

Reddish making plays on both ends of the court

The freshman has struggled to make anything happen in a string of games this season, but has come out ready to fight against this Seminoles team. Reddish drained a triple in the first five minutes of the half, and was able to come up with the swat and rebound on defense to help the Blue Devils go into their transition offense. 

Tre Jones strong on defense but struggling on offense 

The Blue Devil point guard has been praised by Coach K as one of the strongest college defenders in the game right now. However, the freshman is only 2-of-9 from the field. While Jones’ shots weren’t dropping, he came up with two steals in the first half that allowed Duke to run.

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