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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Boston College

Cassius Stanley's athleticism provided a spark to a lethargic Blue Devil squad Tuesday.
Cassius Stanley's athleticism provided a spark to a lethargic Blue Devil squad Tuesday.

CHESTNUT HILL, MASS.—Boston College came out hot in Conte Forum Tuesday night, scoring the game’s first six points to get out to an early lead against No. 9 Duke. The Blue Devils would not fully recover, heading to the locker room trailing 24-21. Here are five observations from the opening half.

Moore still absent from starting five

Tuesday marked Wendell Moore Jr.’s second game back from a hand injury, but the freshman forward still has not reestablished himself in the starting five. Instead, Tre Jones, Jordan Goldwire, Cassius Stanley, Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey Jr. started their seventh consecutive game together. Moore would enter just two minutes into the contest, but would immediately turn the ball over due to an offensive foul. The Charlotte, N.C., native would be quiet for the rest of the half, scoring two points in 12 minutes.

Duke slow to start again

In their last two games, the Blue Devils looked sluggish before recovering for comfortable ACC wins. Duke certainly nailed the first part of the equation Tuesday, allowing the underdog Eagles to score the night’s first six points and jump out to as much as a 10-point lead. Time will tell if the Blue Devils can similarly recover for a victory, but they did themselves no favors in the early going. 

Blue Devil offense bombs

With 12:15 remaining in the first half, Duke had three turnovers and two points, which is not exactly what you’d expect from a team that was favored by 14.5 points. The Blue Devils’ offensive woes were not due to just one issue. They couldn’t finish near the basket, making just 26.7 percent of its field goals. They couldn’t couldn’t shoot from outside, going 0-for-12 on 3-pointers. Despite all of this, Duke kept things close all night, but more efficient play would make the contest into the lopsided affair it was expected to be.

Stanley brings down the house

Desperately needing a spark after a downright ugly first half, the Blue Devils found one from a familiar source: Cassius Stanley. After Jack White stole the ball near half-court, the senior captain found the high-flying freshman in the vicinity of the basket, and Stanley did the rest, throwing down a ferocious one-handed dunk on the alley-oop. This dunk would be Duke’s first fast break points of the night, cutting the once double-digit Eagle lead to just three.

Player of the half: Vernon Carey Jr.

One could very legitimately argue that nobody deserved this honor—after all, the two squads shot a combined 0-for-21 from beyond the arc in the opening period. Nevertheless, the freshman star proved to be the most reliable option for the Blue Devils yet again, scoring nine points on 3-for-5 from the field. 

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