NEW YORK—After a late-night tipoff and even start, No. 15 Duke has taken control heading into the break against Iowa in the Jimmy V Classic. Twenty minutes remain at Madison Square Garden, and the Blue Devils lead the Hawkeyes 37-31.
Baskets were hard to come by for both the Blue Devils and Hawkeyes in the opening minutes, but Duke made sure that did not last long. The starting backcourt of Jeremy Roach and Tyrese Proctor did the heavy lifting to get the Blue Devils an early lead, working primarily off the dribble against a staunch Hawkeye defense. Roach provided an early highlight, creating just enough space for a wing 3-pointer, the first of six triples for Duke in an efficient first-half showing.
For as valuable as Duke’s depth is late in the game, it was the separator for head coach Jon Scheyer’s team early Tuesday. The Blue Devils were neck and neck with the Hawkeyes before the bench duo of graduate wing Jacob Grandison and freshman forward Dariq Whitehead traded threes on consecutive trips down the court. Those two, along with sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes and graduate center Ryan Young, gave Duke a boost that both teams lacked before the personnel change, paving the way for the Blue Devils’ substantial halftime lead.
After attempting just three triples in the second half of Wednesday’s win against Ohio State, the Blue Devils were more reliant on the long ball against Boston College in Saturday’s ACC opener, shooting 8-of-20 from beyond the arc. With the Hawkeyes making entry into the paint difficult for Duke’s bigs throughout the first half, the Blue Devils have again resorted to the 3-point line Tuesday with overwhelmingly positive results: As a team, Duke is shooting 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, led by Roach’s 3-of-4 clip from deep.
Far from home
All things considered, Duke has gotten off to an impressive start in its first season under Scheyer, starting 8-2 out of the gate. Still, Duke is 0-2 in ranked neutral-site matchups to date, and while the Hawkeyes sit just outside of the top 25, Tuesday’s matchup is a must-win for a Blue Devil side looking to successfully close out a tricky nonconference gauntlet.
After 20 minutes, Duke seems to have answered that call. Despite a noticeable lack of clean looks at the rim early, the Blue Devils’ persistence is already paying off, and Filipowski (five points) and Young are getting deeper into the paint with time. The paint-scoring tally is relatively even—Duke trails 18-14 there—but all signs indicate that Scheyer’s squad is headed for a win unlike any it has so far, even after the Hawkeyes closed the half on a 7-1 run.
Player of the half: Jeremy Roach
Duke has won its past two games with an evenly distributed scoring approach—seven total players scored in double figures in wins over the Buckeyes and Eagles. That has already changed Tuesday, with Roach taking his early momentum all the way through the first frame and gathering 11 points (plus a game-high three assists) by the halftime buzzer. On track to surpass his season-high of 21 points from Duke’s win against Xavier during Feast Week, he has been the main catalyst for Duke’s strong showing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
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Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.