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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Michigan State

Sophomore Matthew Hurt showed off his versatility in the first half Tuesday.
Sophomore Matthew Hurt showed off his versatility in the first half Tuesday.

In a highly-anticipated matchup of college basketball powerhouses, No. 6 Duke hosted No. 8 Michigan State Tuesday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The opening period was scrappy and low-scoring, with the Spartans pulling ahead late to take a 37-33 lead into the locker room. Here are five observations from the first 20 minutes of play.

Out with the old, in with the new

After starting junior forward Joey Baker and senior guard Jordan Goldwire in the season opener, Blue Devil head coach Mike Krzyzewski opted for a younger lineup against the Spartans, sitting Baker and Goldwire in favor of freshman guards Jeremy Roach and DJ Steward. Roach and Steward both had quiet halves despite getting the start, combining for just eight points and no assists, and Baker and Goldwire logged just five and 10 minutes in the half, respectively.

Duke bullies inside early

Having no traditional center in the starting lineup may lead some to believe Duke would struggle inside, but that was anything but the case early in this contest. The Blue Devils jumped out to an early 11-3 lead before the under-16 minutes media timeout thanks to offensive dominance in the paint, making a pair of layups and getting to the line eight times. 

Who put a lid on the Cameron rims?

Shots were simply not falling in the opening period. The two teams shot a combined 24-of-66 from the field, including a putrid 4-of-21 mark from beyond the arc. A good portion of Duke’s production came from the charity stripe, as the Blue Devils scored 14 of their 33 points on free throws.

Spartans get into foul trouble

For those who tuned in excited to watch star Michigan State forward Joey Hauser battle it out with Duke’s Jalen Johnson in the front court, I’m sorry. Hauser picked up a pair of early fouls, and scored three points in just six minutes of first-half action. Fellow Spartan forward Thomas Kithier picked up two quick fouls as well, forcing Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo to play 10 Spartans in the first half.

Player of the half: Matthew Hurt

Nobody on either team had a particularly stellar opening half, but Matthew Hurt was the most effective player at creating his own offense, scoring 10 points. Importantly, Hurt was not careless with the ball like many others were early on, as the sophomore forward committed no turnovers.

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