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

Senior captain Joey Baker knocked down his first three 3-pointers of the half.
Senior captain Joey Baker knocked down his first three 3-pointers of the half.

Clemson made the short trip to Durham for a Tuesday tipoff against Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Despite the Tigers losing three of their last five games, they showed up ready to play and found themselves tied with Duke at 36-36 at the half. Here’s five of our observations from the opening 20 minutes. 

Missing Keels

For the second game in a row, the Blue Devils are without freshman guard Trevor Keels as he heals up from a calf injury. Though he was unable to suit up for tonight’s game, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said Keels is recovering well. Sophomore guard Jeremy Roach started the game in Keels’ place, making his 16th start of the season. 

3-balls falling

Points come in threes for the Blue Devils. Duke wasted no time to get the offense going, opening with a Wendell Moore Jr. three and a three-point play from AJ Griffin. The Blue Devils made their first four threes of the game, keeping the game tight early despite otherwise poor play. The team finished the first half with six threes on a 60% mark from beyond the arc.

Turnover struggles continue

Despite starting off the season as a very ball-secure team, the Blue Devils have struggled to control the ball recently, tallying 15 turnovers in each of their last two games. Those problems persisted tonight, as the team recorded seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game. Although Duke is outshooting Clemson, the Tigers’ advantage on the offensive boards and in the turnover margin are giving Clemson valuable additional possessions. The Blue Devils would go on to finish the first half with nine turnovers.

Banchero’s bringing the energy

Following a recent loss against Florida State in which many criticized Paolo Banchero’s lack of involvement on the offensive end, Banchero had no intention to let the narrative continue. He nailed a three in the opening minutes of the game and followed it up with a huge alley-oop in transition. Not missing a beat, Banchero took his chance to hype up the Cameron Crazies as he jogged back down the floor. Banchero got his second foul early in the half and Krzyzewski was forced to only give him nine minutes of playing time. 

Player of the half: Joey Baker

Joey Baker came off the bench and gave the Blue Devils a much-needed spark, nailing his first three treys of the game. Baker helped to keep the game close when all else failed on offense with two of those triples coming in the latter portion of the first half. Despite playing just seven minutes, Baker’s nine points lead the team after an otherwise lackluster showing on offense. 


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