PORTLAND, Ore.—No. 8 Duke fell behind early in its Phil Knight Legacy championship game, with No. 24 Purdue putting together a big run before the break. After one half at the Moda Center, the Blue Devils trail the Boilermakers 46-35.
To say the Boilermaker defense had a good half would be an understatement. The Blue Devils had little daylight on any of their driving shots, with Purdue’s defenders rotating to take away any lanes to the basket. The Boilermakers dared Duke to hit contested midrange pull-ups and catch-and-shoot threes, and the Blue Devils went just 2-of-8 from three while committing seven turnovers.
A-Lively and well
Dereck Lively II’s defense was already a clear strength after his first six games. But matched up against the towering Zach Edey, Lively had his best defensive half yet. The freshman center collected a block and two steals and held Edey to just 2-of-4 from the field against him.
Eleven fouls is a lot to commit in a half. But the larger problem for the Blue Devils is who committed them. By the end of the first half, Lively had collected his third foul, while Kyle Filipowski, Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison all recorded two. Duke was having enough trouble defending Edey when Lively was on the bench or switched off of him. With all three of its bigs toeing the line of foul trouble, the Blue Devils’ paint defense will have a tough time being as aggressive inside as it needs to be.
A well-Proctored half
For the first time since the Delaware game, Tyrese Proctor looked like an impact player. Within the first five minutes, he knocked down more shots than he had in all but one game this season. The player who had hesitated to pull the trigger against Xavier was nowhere to be seen; Proctor hit a pull-up midrange jumper out of the pick-and-roll, crossed over a defender to finish a layup, took an in-rhythm corner three and broke David Jenkins Jr.’s ankles.
Player of the half: Jeremy Roach
Roach played the best half of any Blue Devil, providing his usual level of perimeter defense while hitting tough midrange pull-ups when Duke couldn’t generate any other offense. But his time ended on a somber note, having to finish the half in the locker room after not being able to play through an apparent ankle injury. Whether he returns for the second half will be a large factor in whether or not Duke can pull off a comeback.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.