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Five observations for Duke men's basketball first half against Kansas

<p>Matthew Hurt scored Duke's first five points Tuesday night.</p>

Matthew Hurt scored Duke's first five points Tuesday night.

NEW YORK—Duke kicked off its season with a grudge match against No. 3 Kansas in the Champions Classic at Madison Square in what was an even match for the most part. The Blue Devils enter the locker room up 33-30 against the Jayhawks.

Player of the half: Matthew Hurt

Duke’s first half truly was a team effort, with seven different Blue Devils scoring in the frame. However, Matthew Hurt showed glimpses of stardom by scoring the first five points for Duke. His first bucket, a turnaround fadeaway from the free-throw line, gave Duke’s offense the nudge it needed to keep up with Kansas on the scoreboard. Hurt, who finished the half with five points, also played solid defense in the lane, helping with rim protection and board cleaning.

Coach K opts for three-guard lineup

Perhaps opting for a defensive-minded start to the season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski gave the starting nod to Tre Jones, Jordan Goldwire and Cassius Stanley. The Jones-Goldwire duo has proven lethal defensively in the past, giving Krzyzewski the confidence to set a defensive tone early. 

Big men with big range

One of the questions looming over this year’s Duke team was whether it’d be able to shoot from downtown in order to space the floors for its young bigs. Duke fans were pleased to see their two rookie forwards, Vernon Carey Jr. and Hurt, knock it down from deep early. Though it’s too early to make any assumptions, Duke’s 3-point shooting may have to come from the team’s young frontcourt.

Duke’s defense stunts Azubuike

While his 7-foot presence was certainly felt by the Blue Devils, as the rest of the Jayhawks attacked the lane with relative ease, Kansas’ Udoka Azubuike did not look comfortable down low against Carey or even during his brief stint against Javin DeLaurier. Azubuike finished with only two points and four turnovers to show for his first half of basketball in 10 months. Carey held his own against the Kansas center, with little difficulties blocking out and contesting drives in the paint.

Freshman guards still raw

Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley provided, if nothing else, hustle and pure effort on defense. However, their inexperience was put on full display under the bright lights, as they combined for seven turnovers during the first period. Missed passes and poor footwork plagued the freshmen. Duke needs its new guards to take care of the ball better on offense in order to unlock their full potential on both sides of the court.

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