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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against N.C. State

Mark Williams injected energy into the roster with his rim-rocking dunks in the first half.
Mark Williams injected energy into the roster with his rim-rocking dunks in the first half.

Duke headed back to Cameron Indoor Stadium for a matinee matchup against N.C. State Saturday. The Wolfpack have a sub-.500 ACC record, but they came to play against the Blue Devils as Duke had to work hard for its 45-36 lead at the half.

Griffin starts second game

Griffin made his debut as a starter last week against Wake Forest, and quickly proved his value while putting up 11 points in the first half. That performance sealed a second starting opportunity. Although Griffin started last week’s game with a 3-pointer in the first two minutes, this time the freshman had a slower start, missing his first 3-pointer and then receiving a foul on the other end of the court almost immediately. He would knock down a pivotal three later in the half as he logged 15 minutes of playing time.

Weak start 

The Wolfpack took an early lead and established their control early. It was clear from a viewer’s eye that N.C. State was physically faster and more prepared to make quick and effective passes in the early minutes of the game. This left Duke little time to react before each point, and the Blue Devils had to change their momentum to be more competitive throughout the rest of the half. By the seventh minute, the Blue Devils were able to tie it up at 15-15. The lead continued to change, with the game still tied up at 17-17 with only 10 minutes to go in the half. Duke was finally able to maintain a stable lead, breaking away after a 23-21 score and finishing the half with a nine-point lead.

Better shooting accuracy

Both teams went back and forth missing shots in the first two minutes, but the players warmed up to the court by the end of the first half. Duke ended the half with a 58% field goal percentage, while N.C. State finished at 47%. Prospects were still lower when it came to 3-pointers, as both teams struggled to get the ball in for most of the half. Duke ended the half with a 38% mark while N.C. State finished shooting 20%.

Less turnovers

After Duke’s crippling 17 turnovers against Miami, the Blue Devils have cleaned it up the past two games. Duke ended the half with only four turnovers, less than N.C. State’s seven. It seemed that although the Blue Devils had less turnovers, the Wolfpack were able to capitalize on Duke’s turnovers a bit more effectively. N.C. State made eight of their points off of Duke’s turnovers, while the Blue Devils put up four points.

Player of the half: Mark Williams 

Williams stepped up in the first half tying as a team leader with 10 points. Although guard Trevor Keels also finished the half with 10 points as well, Williams proved to be the more efficient shooter of the half, going 5-of-6 from the floor. Williams made a dunk with about six minutes left of the first half, and the shot was well-received with cheers reverberating throughout Cameron. Other than strong shooting, Williams contributed across the board with five rebounds, two blocks and two assists.

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