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5 observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Delaware

<p>Duke freshman guard Tyrese Proctor drives to the rim in the first half against Delaware at Cameron Indoor Stadium.</p>

Duke freshman guard Tyrese Proctor drives to the rim in the first half against Delaware at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils returned home from its loss in Indianapolis with a strong start to the first half defined by efficient shooting and a rebound advantage. Delaware went on a 7-0 run late to keep it close, but Duke still leads the Blue Hens, the score 42-36 at the break.

Whitehead’s debut

Freshman forward Dariq Whitehead makes his debut for the Blue Devils following time to recover from a fractured right foot in late August. Duke announced that the No. 3-ranked recruit in his class per 247Sports was available to play this afternoon and he entered less than six minutes into the game. Whitehead’s first basket came with 5:38 left in the half off a backdoor cut assisted by graduate center Ryan Young. Duke’s roster is beginning to look like expected, as his fellow top recruit, center Dereck Lively II, also made his debut in the starting lineup. 

Size advantage

Duke came into this game with a visibly bigger lineup than the Blue Hens, headed by freshman forward Kyle Filipowski and Lively in the frontcourt. The Blue Devils hold a 20-12 rebounding advantage at the half. The first couple plays to start the game involved Lively in the pick and roll, utilizing that advantage over the smaller defenders. On the other end, the Duke big men have been able to prevent easy baskets for Delaware at the rim, setting up Duke’s transition offense. The Blue Devils finished the half with a 22-10 lead in points in the paint.

Better shooting start

Duke is coming off a rough game against Kansas where it did not shoot the ball particularly well. The Blue Devils started this game shooting 7-for-8 from the field and 3-for-7 from 3-point range. At the same time, Delaware is shooting 41.4% from the field, contributing to Duke’s halftime lead. However, the Blue Hens began to chip away at the lead late in the second half of the period when it made three consecutive baskets without a Duke answer. 

Defense leads to offense

Duke is playing much faster on the court, and that is served by their defense. Blue Devil guards including Tyrese Proctor have been pressing up on the opposing players and forcing Delaware into turnovers and missed shots. The Blue Devils have been running in transition, with their first basket a Lively dunk coming from a Proctor lob. If Duke can continue to outpace the Blue Hens, it can extend the lead in the second half.

Player of the half: Tyrese Proctor

Proctor started the game red-hot, scoring a team-high nine points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field. He has made an impact on the game not just through his scoring, as he is leading the team in rebounds and tied for the lead in assists. Proctor has become another effective playmaker for his team, something that Duke has built upon so far Friday. 

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