Friday’s top-15 matchup between the second-ranked Blue Devils and 12th-ranked Wildcats has lived up to its elite billing so far, with both teams locked in a physical battle at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With 20 minutes left to play, Duke trails Arizona 41-33.
Worth the hype
The top-15 matchup was everything fans wanted it to be. There was not an open seat nor a quiet voice, as fan sections attempted to drown each other out. The teams traded scores and misses, steals and turnovers. No one led by more than six, until Caleb Love's 3-point buzzer-beater stretched Arizona's halftime lead to eight. The rare nonconference home-and-home proved worth the spectacle. While both squads are sure to evolve come the postseason, the teaser was welcome.
The Blue Devils’ public enemy No. 1, Caleb Love, returned to Cameron Indoor Stadium for likely the last time in his career. The former North Carolina guard made his fourth trip to Durham, though it was his first appearance on Coach K Court not in the lauded rivalry game. The environment wasn’t much different, with the Cameron Crazies pitching their tents Thursday night for a chance to witness the top-15 matchup. While Love did get the start, he had a relatively quiet first half, totaling seven points, two rebounds, a block and two turnovers.
Arizona won the tip and only took five seconds to get to the rim as Kylan Boswell made the long pass to Oumar Ballo under the rim, who hesitated to force sophomore center Kyle Filipowski’s hand before going up for the easy dunk. The Blue Devils missed their first two shots — a 3-point attempt each by Mark Mitchell and Filipowski — letting the Wildcats jump out to a 4-0 lead. Duke cooled down again towards the end of the half, seeing its deficit grow to a sustained six points.
Neither side found much success shooting from three. Keshad Johnson landed Arizona’s long shot of the half, while Jared McCain and Filipowski each knocked one down for Duke. The two sides combined to shoot 5-for-22 from outside the arc, and with so few free-throw attempts, both the Blue Devils and the Wildcats had to find production either in the paint or on long two-pointers.
Player of the half: Kyle Filipowski
The sophomore, as he always seems to be, was everywhere. The 7-foot center found a mismatch with Ballo and has exploited it. Filipowski struck first from outside the arc, sinking Duke’s first three of the half. He also made his presence known in the paint. With four rebounds to go along with his 11 points, Filipowski led the charge for the Blue Devils on both sides of the court. With two early fouls, the Westtown, N.Y., native did spend some of his time on the sideline, but upon returning with 2:25 remaining, grabbed a defensive rebound and converted it into two points on the other end, making him the first player from either side to hit double digits.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.