Playing without starting point guard Tre Jones, the Blue Devils looked sluggish out of the gates against Brown Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke would recover and pull ahead as the half progressed, and lead 35-29 as the two teams head to the locker room. Here are five observations from the opening half:
Baker makes first appearance in starting five
Fresh off his career-best 22-point performance against Wofford, Joey Baker got the starting nod today against the Bears, the first time he's started a game in his Duke career. He struggled out of the gate, missing a three and getting called for a travel before head coach Mike Krzyzewski subbed him and three others out. However, the sophomore forward would rebound, with a highlight-reel block and transition headlining his two-point, two-block half.
Speaking of starting five changes....
Matthew Hurt was set to start for the Blue Devils, along with Baker, Jordan Goldwire, Cassius Stanley and Vernon Carey Jr. The announcer even read his name as a starter. Yet Jack White stepped onto the court for Duke while Hurt sat on the bench. Was it a last-second audible from Krzyzewski or a mistake? Krzyzewski would sub Hurt in eventually, and the freshman forward scored two points in the half.
The starting lineup also was without Tre Jones, who missed his second straight game with a mild foot sprain.
Coach K rips off his jacket
With around 11:30 left in the half, Brown's David Mitchell hit a three to tie the game at 12. Wendell Moore stood under the basket with the ball, waiting to throw it in to somebody... only nobody was there to receive the inbounds pass. Duke had to quickly call a timeout to avoid a turnover, leading an infuriated Krzyzewski to rip off his suit jacket.
The Blue Devils followed the timeout with a travel by Carey and a Brown bucket, but they held a 21-18 advantage at the next media timeout four minutes later.
Duke plays down to its opponent again
A theme of this year has been Duke's tendency to play to the level of its opponent, whether it's playing well against Kansas and Michigan State or poorly against the likes of Stephen F. Austin. Despite being heavily favored against the Bears, the Blue Devils could not pull away against Brown in the first half, shooting 35.7 percent from the field and finishing the half only up six.
Player of half: Cassius Stanley
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Stanley electrified the Cameron Crazies with two thunderous dunks in the opening 10 minutes of the game, including one where he picked off a pass and took it all the way to the rim. He wound up with seven points, two rebounds and two steals in the half.