The rematch of last year’s duel in New York promised to be a fast-paced, high-scoring game, and the first half has since delivered with the Blue Devils leading 47-37. Both teams shot well and pushed in transition in what looks to be a great finish in the second half.
Duke struggles to rebound
The Blue Devils suffered heavily after long possessions and St. John’s players would routinely find themselves alone in the paint with no white shirts around them. The Red Storm turned six offensive rebounds into 11 second chance points, giving them life during Duke’s offensive spurts. The Blue Devils were aided on the other end with a couple high flying offensive boards from Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett chipped in 11 rebounds, but Duke will have to box out moving forward and limit second chance opportunities.
St. John’s plays zone
As the Blue Devils have seen of late, the visitors used a 2-3 zone in the first half to try to make Duke shoot threes. Unfortunately for the Red Storm, they may have been better off letting the Blue Devils in the paint, as Duke connected on five triples on 13 attempts.
Blue Devils come out firing
Duke wasted no time putting points on the board unlike last Saturday against Georgia Tech, as a Cam Reddish three to open the game started a streak of five straight possessions with points. The Blue Devils answered the Red Storm’s zone with another three from Reddish and another from Tre Jones, but St. John’s kept it close and only trailed 14-11 at the first media timeout.
Ponds kept in check
One of the big storylines coming into Saturday was what kind of encore Shamorie Ponds would give Duke fans after his 33-point performance in last year’s matchup at Madison Square Garden. This time, however, seems to be a different story, as the junior was locked up by Tre Jones throughout the first half. Ponds finished with zero points, and only took five shots with five turnovers.
Player of the Half: Cam Reddish
In a half where R.J. Barrett struggled on the offensive end, the often overlooked third piece of Duke’s star trio picked up the slack. Reddish scored 13 points on 3-of-5 from deep, showing scouts why he was regarded as such a promising prospect. In addition to his sharp shooting from outside, the freshman looked to drive, and was able to draw contact and knock down all four of his free throws.
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