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

<p>Freshman guard Trevor Keels used his big frame to attack in the paint en route to 15 points at the half against Elon.&nbsp;</p>

Freshman guard Trevor Keels used his big frame to attack in the paint en route to 15 points at the half against Elon. 

After two cancellations due to COVID issues in opposing programs, Duke hosted Elon Saturday in its last nonconference game of the season. The Blue Devils picked up right where they left off from their last game, and are out to a 44-26 lead at the half. Here’s five of our observations from the opening 20 minutes.

Shooters keep shooting

The Blue Devils shot a blazing 50% from 3-point land against Appalachian State Thursday, and their efficiency from beyond the arc continued, at least early on, against the Phoenix. Wendell Moore Jr. kicked off the scoring from downtown, with Jeremy Roach and AJ Griffin following suit a few minutes after with back-to-back threes. Duke ended the half at a 36% clip from deep, and is once again looking like the 3-ball could be a strength come conference play. 

Tough battle on the boards

In the first half, neither team has had a significant upper hand on the boards. Duke has nabbed 19 rebounds so far with five coming from star freshman Paolo Banchero, while the Phoenix have come down with 15 boards behind four from forward Chuck Hannah. The Blue Devils hold a considerable size advantage in this game with the only true 7-footer on the floor in Mark Williams, and will look to extend their advantage going into the second half.

Buzzer to buzzer

Through the first 20 minutes of play, Elon has failed to hold a lead at any moment. Duke consistently outclassed the Phoenix down low with 30 points in the paint in the first half to Elon’s eight. Williams has yet to get going on the offensive side of the ball, but behind Trevor Keels the attack managed to slice through the Elon defense consistently.

You reach, Duke teaches

Duke picked Elon’s pocket three times in the first half of the contest, resulting in nine points off turnovers. Elon, on the other hand, has struggled to get the Blue Devils to end a possession with anything other than a shot. The stark turnover differential is a key contributor to the Blue Devils’ hot start this afternoon as they took every opportunity to score in transition.

Player of the half: Trevor Keels

Durham is witnessing ‘Keel mode’ in full force, as the Clinton, Md., native notched a team-leading 15 points in the first half. He has been as efficient as ever with an impressive 7-for-10 performance and a three for Krzyzewski’s squad. At 6-foot-5, Keels gives Duke a powerful combination of range and size in the backcourt, and his development as a shooter is key to this team for both the next half of basketball and the rest of the season.

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