After falling behind early in their second game of the season, the seventh-ranked Blue Devils roared back to take a 43-18 lead into the locker room. With 20 minutes to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium, here are five of our observations.
Duke’s first two offensive possessions were both ended by Spartan steals. Both turnovers led to layups, and with a made 3-pointer, USC Upstate was up 7-0 less than two minutes in. Coupled with the Blue Devils’ offensive struggles—they missed their first six attempts from the field—it was a rough start for the home team.
The No. 2 overall recruit in the 2022 class made his much-anticipated collegiate debut. Freshman center Dereck Lively II entered the game just more than four minutes in, and it didn’t take long for him to make his presence known. With the shot clock ticking down and the Blue Devils looking for an opening, junior captain Jeremy Roach found Lively under the rim for the dunk. The center totaled four points in eight minutes of play but did exit late in the half with a noticeable limp.
After going down 7-0 in the first three minutes, Duke hit the gas—it went on a 14-0 run before allowing a Spartan layup with just more than 12 minutes left in the half. In those nine minutes, the Blue Devils dominated. Freshman forward Mark Mitchell had two defensive rebounds and a steal, while sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes’ block led to Lively’s second dunk of the day—a slam that left the Cameron Crazies roaring.
Duke’s graduate transfers continue to prove their value on a young Blue Devil roster. Center Ryan Young earned his second start and recorded five points and four rebounds, while guard Jacob Grandison provided an offensive spark with a big 3-pointer on a fast break in his eight-point showing. As the freshmen continue to get their feet underneath them, having Grandison and Young as dependable pieces is crucial.
Player of the half: Jeremy Roach
Yet again, Roach cemented his role as captain of this year’s Duke team. The offense ran through his hands as he garnered six assists to go along with eight points of his own, leading the Blue Devils in both categories. Though he has been dependable from the field, shooting 3-for-7 with two threes, his ball movement is what has set him apart. The guard has been unrelenting, driving into the paint before kicking the ball out for open threes by Blakes and Grandison.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.