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

Cassius Stanley put up a game-high 16 points in the first half Saturday.
Cassius Stanley put up a game-high 16 points in the first half Saturday.

CORAL GABLES, Fla.—Despite a slow start, No. 2 Duke pulled past the Hurricanes in the first half, going into the locker room up 50-36. Cassius Stanley was a star in an otherwise uneventful half for the Blue Devils. Here are five observations from the opening half:

Starters' scoring struggles

The Blue Devil trio of Tre Jones, Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey Jr. did not fare well from the field in the first half against Miami, as it took seven minutes for any of the three to score a point. Careless turnovers from Jones and Hurt in attempts to get the ball to Carey down low made it difficult for Duke’s offense to get going, allowing Miami to keep the game competitive. Jones had just two points while battling foul trouble, making it harder for the Blue Devils to take a commanding lead.

No turnovers, no troubles 

Uncharacteristic for the Blue Devils, they forced just six Miami turnovers in the first half, which limited Duke to 11 fast-break points. Duke’s offense thrives off easy buckets in transition off of opponent giveaways, but Miami’s ball security did not allow the Blue Devils to run-and-gun as they usually can.

Not for Duke, though…

The Blue Devils could not take care of the ball, coughing it up nine times throughout the half. Though Miami did not capitalize fully—scoring two fast break pointsthis was yet another factor in Duke struggling on the offensive side of the ball. This year’s Duke team has built a brand of hard-nosed defense and sound offensive play, however, neither came to fruition for the Blue Devils, giving the Hurricanes numerous opportunities to stay in the game.

Lykes locked up

The last time Miami leading scorer Chris Lykes faced Jones and the Blue Devils, he scored just four points, which opened the door for the 2018-19 Blue Devils to rout the Canes 87-57. Though his team fared a much better first half against Duke, Lykes did not. Jones’ offensive struggles did not hinder his ability to effectively shut Lykes down, aided by fellow Duke defensive stalwart Jordan Goldwire. Lykes scored six points on 2-of-9 shooting.

Player of the half: Cassius Stanley

When the Blue Devils struggled offensively, Stanley was there to clean up the mess, scoring 16 points in the first period. Scoring all of Duke’s first seven points and two of the teams' four made 3-pointers in the half, the Los Angeles native’s hustle in transition and aggressiveness in attacking the rim helped keep the Blue Devils afloat. 

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