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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Virginia Tech

Wendell Moore Jr. started the game 3-of-3 from the field with two 3-pointers.
Wendell Moore Jr. started the game 3-of-3 from the field with two 3-pointers.

Duke welcomed Virginia Tech to Cameron Indoor Stadium for its first ACC game of the season. The Blue Devils came in as 9.5-point favorites, but this is conference play, and the Hokies have taken a 36-32 lead into the half. 

Counting by three early

The Blue Devils started off the game hot from behind the 3-point line. The first two Duke shot attempts came from Trevor Keels and Wendell Moore on the left side of the arc, with both dropping in the bottom of the net for a quick six points. Duke made three of its first four attempts from long-range as it jumped out to an early 9-4 lead.

The new jerseys stay clean

On the defensive side, the Blue Devils were able to slow down their opponents without fouling too much. Duke didn’t commit a foul for the first 11:37 and only allowed two points off of two free throws before the halftime break. The Hokies also only gave up six free throws, but didn’t play quite as clean with nine personal fouls. Duke is the bigger and more physical team on the court, but managed to largely stay out of foul trouble, meaning it will have its entire roster out of foul trouble for the second half.

Little help for Aluma

The Hokies struggled on offense with one exception: season-leading scorer Keve Aluma. The senior forward finished with 17 points on a 7-of-12 mark, but the rest of Mike Young’s squad couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the net during the first 20 minutes of basketball. During the latter part of the half, Storm Murphy and Justyn Mutts came on a bit stronger, finishing with six and eight points respectively. With the role players struggling for both teams, the outcome of this tightly-contested game will likely depend on who other than the leading stars can step up and make key contributions.

Back and forth

Neither side has created much breathing room so far. The final score shows how close this matchup is, but the box score brings the message home. The teams have only a 2.3% difference from the field so far and a single point difference in made free throws. The largest lead by either team occurred when Duke led 13-4 very early in the contest, but the game has been a slugfest ever since then. 

Player of the half: Wendell Moore Jr. 

Moore sank his first three shots and led scoring early with eight points in just the first 2:55 of the game. The junior team captain finished the half 4-of-6 from the field and with a team-leading three assists. The rest of Krzyzewski’s unit didn’t contribute much on offense. Keels scored the first points of the contest with a three, but failed to make much of an impact the rest of the way. Jeremy Roach and Paolo Banchero notched six each, but it was Moore who carried most of the load in the opening half.

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