5 observations from No. 21 Duke men's basketball's first half against Hofstra

The 21st-ranked Blue Devils took the floor at home Tuesday evening for a tricky matchup with hot-shooting Hofstra, looking for their second-consecutive win. It has not been smooth sailing so far, as Duke holds a narrow 44-39 lead at the break:

3-point defensive struggles

Hofstra entered the contest shooting a 38.9% clip from downtown, as the Pride’s offense usually relies on knocking down a large number of triples, evidenced by their 261 3-point attempts coming into the night. The visitors showed their content to keep trying threes throughout the first half, even when the first three tries did not fall. Duke, who entered the night 115th in 3-point defense, was unable to up its efforts in this sector, finishing the half allowing six makes on 13 attempts. The main beneficiary of this success from beyond the arc was Darlinstone Dubar, who was 5-of-8 from downtown going into the locker room.

Working the paint

The Blue Devils largely played the opposite style of offense as their opponent for the first 20 minutes, electing to use their size advantage to work for points down low. Naturally, this often came on the back of sophomore center Kyle Filipowski, who led the team with 17 points with 12 of them coming in the paint. However, head coach Jon Scheyer has also been utilizing the big man as a passer, as Filipowski has racked up multiple assists to guards cutting towards the basket. At the halfway point of Tuesday’s contest, there is a massive discrepancy of points in the paint, as the Blue Devils have 26 compared to the Pride’s eight. 

Moving the rock

During its two-game losing streak to Georgia Tech and Arkansas, Duke seemed to fall into a pattern of playing isolation-style basketball when the game got close, with players electing to hunt for their own shot instead of looking to spread the wealth on offense. Halfway through Tuesday evening’s game, that trend does not seem to be continuing, as the Blue Devils made it a point to move the ball around. It paid off in a big way, as they racked up assists on 13 of their 18 made field goals. 

Stop Tyler Thomas

Despite Dubar’s excellent first half, he has not been Hofstra’s best scorer all season. Graduate student Tyler Thomas entered the night averaging 23.6 points per contest, the fifth-highest total in the country. Scheyer seemed to make it the number one priority to stop the New Haven, Conn., native on the defensive end, as Duke blitzed him coming off ball screens constantly during the first frame. However, Thomas has still been able to impact the game tremendously as a scorer, finishing the half with 11 points.  

Player of the half: Kyle Filipowski

The Preseason All-American showed why he garnered that praise coming into this season in the first half against Hofstra, as the sophomore was dominant from the opening tip. The Westtown, N.Y., native entered the night leading the team with 17.3 points per game, and he was already at that mark at halftime, as he entered the locker room with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. Filipowski also showed a willingness to help generate shots for others on the offensive end, as he also racked up four assists. The sophomore also leads the team in rebounds after 20 minutes with five boards. 


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