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

Mark Williams was a dominant force on both ends during the first half.
Mark Williams was a dominant force on both ends during the first half.

Winless Lafayette came to Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday night as 32.5-point underdogs, but the Leopards are making things interesting by keeping Duke to a 35-27 halftime lead. 

The Blue Curtain

It took Lafayette just under four minutes to score its first basket, and somehow the box score still doesn’t do a good enough job capturing how well Duke played on the defensive side of the ball. The seven steals were impressive, but it was the stifling defense that led to the Leopards shooting just 11-of-28 from the field. Whether it was the charge Keels drew at the 13:16 mark, the full-court press from Keels and Banchero that led to an AJ Griffin steal or the high-intensity defense of Theo John, the Leopards were left without any answers on offense. 

Offensive rebound output 

Duke has been outrebounded in half of its games this year, and it is once again in danger of that as the half ended 24-21 in favor of Duke. Despite the close totals in overall rebounds, the Blue Devils are dominating on the offensive glass with 11 in comparison to Lafeyette’s three, largely thanks to a formidable all-around effort from six different Blue Devils. Williams led the pack with four of them, and Duke will need to keep that up if its shooting woes continue.

Treys for Trev

For the fourth game in a row, it was Trevor Keels who started off the 3-point scoring for Duke. On the Blue Devils' second possession of the game, Paolo Banchero fought for an offensive board that gave Keels an open look, and he knocked it down for the first Duke field goal. Keels finished 2-of-4 from 3-point land, but overall Duke shot just 25% from there. Banchero and Baker also added treys, but overall Duke is not getting a high level of efficiency from the outside. 

You or me?

Regardless of who was bringing the ball up the court, it didn’t matter. Duke was expected to have several ball-handlers heading into the season, it has shown that off in all 4.5 games and eight assists in just one half of basketball were the reward. The versatility that the numerous ball-handlers give the Duke offense was enough to overcome the Blue Devils 14-for-42 mark from the field. And if Banchero hasn’t already proved he can do it all on the basketball court, he tossed in a team-high-tying three assists to still have an impact on offense despite his 1-for-8 field goal mark.

Player of the half: Mark Williams

Wiliams is back. If there was ever any doubt during the first three games of if Williams was going to have a sophomore slump, he put those arguments firmly to bed during the first half. His eight points and eight rebounds were pivotal to Duke’s early success, and his 7-foot frame pestered the Lafayette shooters for the entire half. At the 11:56 mark, Wendell Moore Jr. trotted down the court with the ball, and in perfect rhythm, Moore found a sky-high Williams above the rim for the slam-dunk alley oop to get the Cameron Crazies jumping. 

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.


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