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

<p>Matthew Hurt continued his offensive barrage in the first half Saturday, but Louisville holds the edge.</p>

Matthew Hurt continued his offensive barrage in the first half Saturday, but Louisville holds the edge.

In a game that could push Duke into NCAA tournament standing, the Blue Devils have quickly ceded the lead to Louisville. Although Matthew Hurt has starred thus far, Duke has not been able to stop the Cardinals’ offense, with Louisville taking a 36-26 advantage into the break. Here are five observations from the game’s first 20 minutes: 

Goldwire earns Senior Night start

Senior point guard Jordan Goldwire got the starting nod Saturday on Senior Night, despite not starting since Feb. 1 against Miami. The other Blue Devil senior, former walk-on Mike Buckmire, did not start against Louisville and did not play in the first half.

In his four years, Goldwire has averaged 2.9 points, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game. The Georgia native scored only one point but dished out four assists in the first half against the Cardinals.

Defense is for suckers

Both Duke and Louisville had their scoring touch through the first eight minutes. Duke shot 7-for-12 to open the game, while Louisville shot 8-of-12. The Blue Devils finished the half shooting 48 percent, while the Cardinals matched them by shooting at a 47.1 percent clip.

Carlik Jones runs it back

The last time Duke faced Louisville, Carlik Jones ripped the Blue Devils apart for 24 points and five assists. Before halftime Saturday, Jones offered the start of a repeat performance, scoring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.

Long-distance lapse

During Duke’s four-game winning streak entering Saturday’s contest, the Blue Devils made 42 shots from 3-point range. However, Duke knocked down just one long-range bucket against Louisville in the first half. If the Blue Devils want to launch themselves into NCAA tournament relevance, they will have to improve their game from beyond the arc.

Player of the half: Matthew Hurt

Hurt started the game on a tear and helped the Blue Devils stay in the game. The forward nailed his first five shots, and Louisville forward Jaelyn Withers looked overmatched against the 6-foot-10 shooting specialist. Hurt finished the opening period with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

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