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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Notre Dame

<p>Wendell Moore Jr. led the Blue Devils with 16 first half points.</p>

Wendell Moore Jr. led the Blue Devils with 16 first half points.

Duke entered Tuesday losers of two straight games, but it played like a different team offensively during the opening period against Notre Dame. The Blue Devils were lights out from beyond the arc en route to a 50-45 halftime lead. Here are a few of our observations from the first 20 minutes:

Shots, shots, shots

Where has this been all year? The Blue Devils were knocking down virtually everything they looked at from deep in the first half, a complete turnaround from the vast majority of their ACC slate. In a balanced effort, Duke gave Notre Dame’s perimeter defense fits from long range, as five Blue Devils have hit a triple so far. For the entire half, Duke went 7-for-11 on 3-point attempts. That type of marksmanship is likely unsustainable, but it was still an encouraging sign for Coach K’s group.

Williams in starting lineup again

To counteract Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot early on against North Carolina, head coach Mike Krzyzewski gave freshman center Mark Williams the start Saturday. Despite Williams scoring only two points against the Tar Heels, Krzyzewski sent the Virginia native out for the opening tipoff for the second straight game Tuesday. As a result, Matthew Hurt moved over to power forward, and Jalen Johnson started the contest on the bench. Williams had a solid impact on the first 20 minutes with four points and three rebounds.  

Blue Devils start out quick

Duke has been plagued by slow starts throughout the season, but today was a completely different story. The Blue Devils were firing on all cylinders in the early going, as 3-pointers from Wendell Moore Jr., DJ Steward, Hurt and Jeremy Roach helped build a 20-8 lead by the first TV timeout. Duke utilized crisp ball movement and confident shooting from the perimeter to put the Fighting Irish behind the eight-ball in the blink of an eye. Whether the Blue Devils can build off that sizzling start in the second half and in future games remains to be seen. 

Hurt bounces back

Arguably the biggest disappointment from the Tobacco Road rivalry loss was the poor performance from Hurt, the team’s leading scorer. After a 7-point outing that saw him foul out with just under five minutes remaining, the sophomore forward appeared to get his feet under him in the opening period against Notre Dame. Hurt reestablished himself as a threat to score in the high post and from outside, scoring seven points on 2-for-4 from the field. 

Player of the half: Wendell Moore Jr.

In recent weeks, Moore has become a primary option for the Blue Devils thanks to better shot selection and improved efficiency. Tuesday’s first half was more of the same, as the North Carolina native was impressive at both ends of the floor. If this version of Moore is going to be a consistent threat, then Duke will gain a major shot in the arm, particularly offensively. Thanks to 16 points on 5-for-6 from the floor and four rebounds, the sophomore wing gets our nod for player of the half.


Max Rego

Max Rego is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor for The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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