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

Kyle Filipowski in the first half of Duke's game against Miami.
Kyle Filipowski in the first half of Duke's game against Miami.

After a week off, Duke is back in action and in the midst of an intense game against No. 17 Miami at home. The two sides fought for pole position early, but both teams are still looking to take the lead with the game tied 38-38 at halftime.

Roach returns

After missing three consecutive games with a reaggravated toe injury, Duke’s captain finds himself back in uniform. Junior guard Jeremy Roach is an integral part of the team and his absence from the lineup was noticeable as the Blue Devils struggled to find offense in their last contest against Clemson

Although it is unclear precisely what the plan is for Roach through the whole game, he logged eight points and two assists in 12 first-half minutes. His composure on the ball provided some much-needed settling of the Duke offense and while his appearances have been limited, he has not missed a step as he reprises his role as the primary ball-handler. 

Cameron Indoor milestone

Another day, another record in Cameron Indoor Stadium. With Saturday’s sellout crowd, Duke reached 500 consecutive home sellouts—the record for any basketball program, college or professional. The streak extends back to 1990, when the Blue Devils fell to UNLV in the national championship game. Cameron Indoor is loud, and the Blue Devils are certainly feeding off of the crowd for this matchup against the No. 17 team in the country. 

Back and forth

Right from the get-go, this game became a battle with both teams trading blows. Through the first half, there were 11 lead changes and neither team’s lead exceeded five points. Both teams have looked fluid on offense, finding good shots and knocking down 3-pointers. The squads also traded strong defensive possessions. Whenever either team found a stop or forced a turnover, the other would lock up on its own end, and neither was ever able to build much of a lead. 

On the Hurricanes’ side, transfer guard Nijel Pack is causing the most disturbance. His 14 points lead the game and his 4-of-7 shooting from deep is giving the Blue Devils fits on defense. 

Offensive explosion

It has not happened often this season, but when it mattered most, against a ranked opponent, the Blue Devils came out blazing on offense. Head coach Jon Scheyer has preached all year that his team needs to start quickly on the attacking end, and that came true Saturday. Duke has played fast and moved the ball efficiently to find the best available shots. Through 20 minutes, the Blue Devils are shooting 48% from the field and 45% from deep, and they have 13 assists on 15 field goals. 

Player of the half: Kyle Filipowski

Kyle Filipowski was once again a leader for the Blue Devils on the offensive end. His versatile skill set is exactly what the team needed in this contest. The freshman was able to use his size on the interior, splash it from outside the arc and pass out of double teams with ease. In the first half, he amassed a team-leading nine points and six rebounds while shooting an efficient 3-of-6 from the field. Duke is going to need to keep feeding him the ball in the second period to take advantage of its good work in the first. 

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