5 observations from No. 9 Duke men's basketball's first half against Florida State

Jared McCain unleashes a shot from three during Duke's win against Wake Forest.
Jared McCain unleashes a shot from three during Duke's win against Wake Forest.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—On the back of a three-game winning run at home, No. 9 Duke made the trip down to Tallahassee Saturday afternoon looking for its first away win since a loss at North Carolina. Heading into the halftime locker room, the Blue Devils lead Florida State 44-34:

Tyrese Proctor’s absence

The sophomore guard missed the bulk of the second half against Wake Forest Monday after hitting his head. He did not travel with the team to Tallahassee as he is in concussion protocol. Head coach Jon Scheyer opted to start freshman guard Caleb Foster (12 starts) alongside senior Jeremy Roach and freshman Jared McCain in the backcourt. Duke is undefeated in eight games with that starting backcourt plus Mark Mitchell and Kyle Filipowski in the frontcourt. The Blue Devil backcourt was able to pick up their teammate by combining for 32 points with four assists on 12-for-18 shooting, making up for the absence of a steady point guard who averages 10.0 points and 3.5 assists per game. 

Seminoles’ early shooting

The Florida State offense started off hot, connecting on six of its first seven shots including a pair of triples. The Duke defense did not look particularly unsteady and forced a couple of tightly-contested shots but the Seminoles willed the ball through en route to a six-point lead at the first media break. The Blue Devils were able to retaliate by hitting seven of their first eight threes and held the home team to just three of its next 10 shot attempts.

Defensive looks

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton sent his team out to press the Blue Devils in the full court early, making Duke work to get the ball past the time line and run some clock off of its possessions. Before the Blue Devils found McCain as a reliable source of offense, it looked as if the press was throwing Duke off a bit (the Blue Devils turned the ball over seven times), but then the Blue Devils briefly switched into a zone defense to calm the Seminole offense.

Heat check

As McCain got hot, the offense flowed nearly exclusively through him, and he did not disappoint the Duke fans in attendance. He scored eight straight points for the Blue Devils beginning at the 6:45 mark in the half and got Duke out to a 37-28 lead, but the Seminoles were not going away easily. A miss on a heat-check attempt on his seventh 3-point shot of the game drew thunderous applause at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center before a three-point play for Primo Spears brought the game back to 37-33.

Player of the half: Jared McCain

Does surpassing your season scoring average in just eight minutes count as good? Because the Duke freshman took an early Blue Devil deficit and erased it single-handedly on the offensive end of the floor. The Sacramento, Calif., native notched 14 points before the under-12 timeout on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting from deep. His career high for made threes was five (Nov. 17 against Bucknell), and his top mark in the scoring department was 24 — he broke both personal records in the first half alone, (25 points, 7-for-8 from deep).

Micah Hurewitz

Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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