NEW YORK—The Blue Devils faced off against Georgetown in the conclusion of the 2K Empire Classic Friday evening, heading into the locker room tied 33-33 at halftime. Here are five observations from the first half of play.
Duke’s offense still a work in progress
A night after a laissez-faire outing against an undersized California team, Duke’s offense took a while to get going against the Hoyas. Duke’s halfcourt offense again looked raw, as high-percentage shot decisions were few and far between to begin the match. Duke ended the half with a 13-for-32 line from the field as a team.
Hoya guards have no fear
With a hungry Tre Jones and an active Cassius Stanley in Duke’s backcourt, it’s easy for any opposing guard to feel intimidated. However, Georgetown’s James Akinjo and Mac McClung appeared to be anything but nervous in front of an energetic Madison Square Garden crowd. Akinjo and McClung scored 12 and six points respectively in the half, providing the spark the Hoyas needed to stay competitive in the half.
Jones nowhere to be found
A big reason why Duke struggled against the Hoyas, Jones was not able to contribute much on either side of the ball. At the eight-minute mark, Jones still had zeros in points, assists, rebounds and steals. His quiet half allowed Georgetown’s backcourt to take advantage and control the tempo of the game.
Blue Devils battle on the boards
One of Duke’s most reliable attributes as a team was put on display against Georgetown, as it out-rebounded the Hoyas 20-13 to earn much needed second-chance points in the paint. Georgetown’s efficient 57.1 percent from the floor kept the team competitive despite the team’s inability to out-rebound Duke.
Player of the half: Vernon Carey Jr.
When Duke’s offense stalled, head coach Mike Krzyzewski opted to send it down low to Vernon Carey Jr., as was the case time and time again Thursday night against the Golden Bears. Carey’s paint presence proved too problematic for Georgetown’s bigs to handle, as he finished the half with 16 points and five rebounds to keep Duke afloat in its time of need. Carey’s defense also limited opportunities for star Hoya center Omer Yurtseven, who did not attempt a single shot in six minutes of play.
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