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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Winthrop

<p>Forward Matthew Hurt has taken over scoring duties for the Blue Devils in the first half, tallying 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting.</p>

Forward Matthew Hurt has taken over scoring duties for the Blue Devils in the first half, tallying 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Three days after suffering a stunning overtime upset at the hands of Stephen F. Austin, Duke returned to Cameron Indoor Stadium and fought its way to a 42-35 halftime lead against Winthrop. Here are five observations from the first half of play.

Blue Devils show better discipline

One of the biggest problems for Duke against the Lumberjacks on Tuesday night was turnovers, as the Blue Devils gave up the ball 22 times, 11 times in the first half. In the first half against the Eagles, Duke showed some progress, only committing six, but also did a poor job forcing any on the other end of the floor, as Winthrop only had three in the half.

Duke thriving from deep

Joey Baker and Matthew Hurt provided some much-needed offense from beyond the arc for Duke in the first half, combining to make four of their first five combined attempts from downtown. The offense didn’t click for much of the half, and these two were critical in keeping Duke in the game.

Hustle plays not yet yielding results

Twice in the first eight minutes of the game, the Blue Devils jumped to try to intercept passes, only to give up easy layups behind the defense. With just under 12 minutes to go, Baker forced a loose ball and dove to corral it on the other end of the court, only for the Eagles to come up with the 50-50 ball and get it down the court the other way for an easy bucket for Josh Ferguson. 

Eagles find holes all over Duke’s defense

Winthrop repeatedly found open looks in the early going in Cameron, driving into the lane and getting easy shots despite clear height advantages for Duke in most matchups. In transition, things weren’t much better, as Winthrop was able to get behind the Blue Devils and catch them off guard multiple times. The Eagles went right at Duke’s forwards with D.J. Burns, who had six early points against the Blue Devils’ big men, and were able to kick the ball to other perimeter for some wide-open threes.

Player of the half: Matthew Hurt

Hurt already has 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, in addition to grabbing four rebounds. He also sent the Crazies into a frenzy with a fast-break dunk to put the Blue Devils up 26-23 and give what had been an anxious Cameron Indoor crowd some momentum to get behind after a back-and-forth beginning to the game.

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