5 observations from No. 12 Duke men's basketball's first half against Clemson

Mark Mitchell muscles his way into the paint during the first half against Clemson.
Mark Mitchell muscles his way into the paint during the first half against Clemson.

The Blue Devils hit the hardwood of Cameron Indoor Stadium after a difficult road test midweek looking for a second-straight win against Clemson. With one half of basketball yet to play, No. 12 Duke leads the Tigers 32-26:

Roach absent from starting lineup

Although Duke played against Louisville with its starting lineup intact, senior guard Jeremy Roach only played 17 minutes after reinjuring himself midway through the game. He was not in the starting lineup against Clemson, as Caleb Foster, Jared McCain and Tyrese Proctor were the guards who began the contest in his stead. Roach checked into the contest after the first media timeout and scored three points in the half, as Proctor and Mark Mitchell did much of the scoring for the Blue Devils. 

Limiting Hall

Tiger center PJ Hall is a difficult matchup, and he made his presence felt early. Hall opened the scoring for Clemson with a left-handed hook from the baseline over sophomore center Kyle Filipowski. He also demonstrated his range with a deep 3-point look in transition, as his versatility was on display. The Blue Devils responded well defensively, and forced him into tough looks for the rest of the half. The first-team All-ACC selection is averaging 19.7 points per game, so it will be imperative for Duke to slow him down in the second half. 

3-point shooting battle

At the beginning of the season, the Tigers were one of the best shooting teams in not only the ACC, but the country. However, Clemson has gone cold in conference matchups, including a 1-of-18 performance against North Carolina. Initially, the Tigers got back to their hot shooting ways, but hit an iceberg as the half wore on. Duke had the opposite trajectory, and responded with back-to-back triples from McCain and Proctor, which ignited the crowd and was part of a 17-2 run in the middle of the half. Proctor responded with two more from deep, as the Sydney native showed off his dribbling moves with a stepback on Clemson’s RJ Godfrey.

Defensive intensity

Duke played some of its best defense all season in the first half against the Tigers, especially on its best players. McCain set the tone early with a hustle play diving on the floor, and his team responded by turning up the intensity. Senior guard Joe Girard is a 41.9% 3-point shooter, but Proctor did a great job limiting his looks, as Girard finished with zero points in the half. This defense helped the Blue Devils in creating offensive looks, with 10 fast-break points and six points off turnovers. 

Player of the half: Mark Mitchell

Mitchell was an elite scorer during the first half and did it from multiple places on the court. He got to the line early and converted 3-for-4 shots from the charity stripe. He even knocked down his fourth triple of the season, which forced the Tiger defenders to step out and close out when Mitchell got the ball on the wing. His defense was also necessary with Clemson’s bigger lineup, and he did a good job against his matchup — forward Ian Schieffelin — who had nothing to show for on the scoreboard. 


Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

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