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5 observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Ohio State at ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Duke freshman forward Kyle Filipowski posts up against Ohio State's Sean McNeil in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium
Duke freshman forward Kyle Filipowski posts up against Ohio State's Sean McNeil in the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium

Things have been tight from the start at Cameron Indoor Stadium between No. 17 Duke and No. 25 Ohio State. With 20 minutes to play, the Blue Devils have stretched their lead to 39-29.

Slow and steady

Turnovers on the first two Blue Devil possessions followed by a missed Jeremy Roach layup soured the tone for the beginning of the first half of the final ACC/Big Ten Challenge Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke earned its first points from freshman forward and three-time ACC Rookie of the Week Kyle Filipowski. Ohio State guard Sean McNeil applied pressure to the Blue Devils’ defense, scoring five points to get the Buckeyes an 8-2 lead before the home side struck back with back-to-back scoring trips. With both teams in the bottom half of the tempo leaderboard per KenPom, the matchup was sure to be a grit-and-grind affair from the tip, and it delivered. 

Fresh off the bench

Nine of Duke’s first 13 points came from its bench with graduate wing Jacob Grandison quickly adding a 3-pointer from a Filipowski kick-out to the corner, two layups and three rebounds as the Blue Devils turned up the heat on their Big Ten foes. Sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes made a sensational cut to finish a wide-open layup before later slinging four assists. While starters Tyrese Proctor and Mark Mitchell had plus-minuses of zero and minus-3, respectively, Grandison and Blakes brought intensity and plus-7 and plus-12 plus-minuses themselves.

Scrum

A stretch midway through the half saw both teams getting blocked at the rim, intense battles for rebounds and plenty of loose balls to dive for. The Blue Devils battled for the ball and ultimately finished off the run with a Filipowski layup to make the score 20-20 with 8:50 to go. The Blue Devils also grabbed nine offensive rebounds but only earned four second-chance points. Ohio State turned the ball over five times during a four-minute stretch which helped the Blue Devils take a late lead. If Duke can use its size advantage as the game continues, it could find that converting those second-chances and continuing to convert on Buckeye turnovers could earn them a premier Power Five win. 

Struggles from 3-point range

Duke entered the night with one of the lowest 3-point percentages in the nation at just 29.1%. In the Blue Devils’ two matchups against ranked opponents entering Wednesday—losses against Kansas and Purdue—they shot 3-for-21 and 2-for-19, respectively. With a 3-for-10 performance against Ohio State, it remains to be seen whether the poor 3-point shooting is going to continue to define Duke’s struggles against tougher competition or if the Blue Devils are primed to break out of their funk from downtown.

Player of the half: Kyle Filipowski

The freshman phenom Filipowski led the way for the Blue Devils in the first half, playing more inside than out en route to his nine-point, five-rebound period. While averaging 4.1 3-point shots per game, the 7-foot New York native took six shots, all of which came at or near the rim. With five boards—two offensive—he is also on pace for his fifth double-double and first since his 19-point, 14-rebound showing against Oregon State in Portland, Ore., a week ago. His sole assist was a perfectly-timed dish to Grandison, and the forward also picked up two steals as he  helped Duke’s lead explode to 10 by the break.


Micah Hurewitz | Sports Managing Editor

Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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