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Five observations for Duke men's basketball first half against Fort Valley State

<p>Joey Baker hit three early triples against Fort Valley State Wednesday evening.</p>

Joey Baker hit three early triples against Fort Valley State Wednesday evening.

Duke's second exhibition game started off much smoother than its first, as the Blue Devils looked more up to par with their No. 4 ranking. On the backs of a great defensive performance, Duke finds itself up 67-28 going into the second half. 

Player of the half: Joey Baker

The sophomore sharpshooter created some of the only offense for the Blue Devils from outside, as he went 5-for-6 from deep. Stepping into catch and shoot opportunities both in the fastbreak and in halfcourt sets, the Fayetteville, N.C. native looked confident in his stroke. He also added an offensive rebound for good measure. In just eight minutes of playing time, Baker showed great potential for his outside scoring for the rest of the season.

The Blue Devils go small to start the game

Coach K opted for a three-guard lineup of Tre Jones, Jordan Goldwire and Cassius Stanley to go along with Hurt and Vernon Carey, Jr. Goldwire and Stanley replaced Wendell Moore and Jack White, instantly providing more defense for the Blue Devils, although at the expense of shooting. Fort Valley State does not have a player taller than 6-foot-7 on its roster, so this move may only be temporary. 

Aggressive defense smothers the Wildcats

Starting off the game with a full-court press, the Blue Devils forced Fort Valley State into 16 turnovers in the first half en route to a 17-0 lead to begin the game. The duo of Jones and Goldwire absolutely shut down the opposing guards while setting the tone for the Duke defensive, which double teamed and tipped passes at will to create nine steals that resulted in seven fastbreak points. 

Points in the paint

The Blue Devils dominated points in the paint 40-22 in the first half, surging out to a 67-28 lead due to strong offense in the interior. Through various drives, cuts and rolls to the basket, as well as through countless fastbreak opportunities, Duke was able to score at will, nearly equally its output for the entirety of last game against Northwest Missouri State. 

A slow start from three

Continuing on a poor 2-of-16 shooting performance last game, Duke started off struggling mightily once again from outside. Aside from 5 three-pointers from Joey Baker, the rest of team went a combined 1-for-7 from deep in the first half. Based on the three times we've seen the Blue Devils in action, this may be an area that haunts them once again this season. 

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