On the road for the first time since an early January trip to Pittsburgh, No. 12 Duke and Louisville are duking it out Tuesday night at the KFC Yum! Center. With 20 minutes to play, the Blue Devils hold a 45-34 advantage:
It may have been long-awaited, but it didn’t take long. Sophomore forward Mark Mitchell, absent from the Blue Devils’ last two games with a knee injury, returned to action with a bang. Senior guard Jeremy Roach was also cleared to go after injuring his knee late against Georgia Tech, and while the senior’s shots weren’t initially falling, he kept the offense moving with three assists and ended up in double-digits with 10 points.
Although Duke got on the board first, the lead was short-lived. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield tied it up with a two-point jumper, and on the Cardinals’ next possession Curtis Williams drained a three. Two sequences and another 3-pointer from Skyy Clark later, Louisville was up 8-4. It had made its first three from the field. It was freshman guard Jared McCain who put the Blue Devils back on top with a three just more than four minutes into the half. The slow start and early deficit struck fear in the hearts of Duke fans, but the ship seemed to be righted as the visiting team entered the locker room with a comfortable lead.
Back off the bench
With Roach and Mitchell both back from injury, head coach Jon Scheyer opted for a change in his starting five. Freshman Caleb Foster, Roach, McCain, Mitchell and Filipowski got the nod, relegating sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor back to the sixth-man spot. He wasn’t the only one to produce off the bench, however, with freshman Sean Stewart, graduate student Ryan Young and junior Jaylen Blakes all seeing the court early. The three combined for five rebounds and the freshman drained a pair of free throws.
As soon as Proctor was rotated in, he made an impact. The sophomore found classmate Filipowski under the basket for his first assist of the night. After a Louisville turnover, the Sydney native got on the board himself with a driving layup. His two-point shots were falling cleanly and he ended the half with 11 points and three dishes in his 16 minutes off the bench.
A rebound effort
With 13:31 to play in the first half, Roach intercepted a pass from Clark. Though the earned possession ended up empty after Filipowski’s jumper didn’t fall, the steal was Duke’s third of the day — the same number it totaled all night Saturday against Pittsburgh, a game the Blue Devils were constantly trying to claw their way back into. It was a cleaner first half from Scheyer’s squad Tuesday night as it dominated nearly every category on the box score and boasted an assist-to-turnover ratio of two.
Player of the half: Mark Mitchell
Mitchell made his presence known immediately, catching a pass from sophomore center Kyle Filipowski and finding the rim with ease. Mitchell had Duke’s second basket as well, with a quick layup after a Louisville foul. The Kansas City, Kan., native ended the half with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting — the only offensive shadow falling on a missed free throw.
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Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.