In the final matchup of the Blue Devil Challenge, No. 9 Duke has struggled to get things going against a resilient Southern Indiana squad. With 20 minutes behind them at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils trail the Screaming Eagles 35-31:
Duke once again got off to a slow start, but unlike last time out against La Salle, who was only able to cut the score discrepancy down to two points, Southern Indiana was able to both take the lead and build on it. It started as a result of early shooting woes by the Blue Devils, who missed six of their first seven threes and nine of their first 11 field goals. The Eagles used this momentum on their defensive end to become electric on offense, outshooting Duke 43.8% to 37.5% by the end of the half.
Despite Duke getting down by as much as 10 and Southern Indiana holding the lead for most of the half, the Blue Devils have outmatched the Screaming Eagles in most facets of the game. The one discrepancy that has tilted the balance of this game is the long ball. Duke has shot a paltry 1-for-8 from deep so far, compared to a far more efficient 7-for-14 clip by Southern Indiana.
The easiest points in the game come at the free-throw line, and no matter how much trouble the Blue Devils had hitting shots amidst this high-intensity game, they were still able to draw fouls on the Screaming Eagles. This allowed them opportunities to settle down and calm the storm. They shot 10 free throws to Southern Indiana’s zero, sinking six of them.
The teams were equal in total rebounds but Duke outrebounded the Screaming Eagles eight to five on the offensive glass. This may seem minute, however, its second chance opportunities were crucial for a team that was struggling to hit shots from virtually everywhere on the court. In particular, Kyle Filipowski and Sean Stewart were effective, combining for five offensive boards between them.
Player of the half: Ryan Young
There was not a standout offensively for the Blue Devils, but there was certainly a catalyst of their energy this half, and that was graduate center Ryan Young. He snatched three rebounds and scored five points, including one from the free-throw line. The stats do not pop out, but he was relentless in the paint. He attacked both the glass and the opposition, never satisfied unless a basket was scored or a foul was drawn. This kind of energy spread through the team, helping them cut the Screaming Eagles’ lead down to four heading into the half.
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