5 observations from No. 4-seed Duke men's basketball's first half against James Madison

Jared McCain races to the basket during the first half of Duke's clash with James Madison.
Jared McCain races to the basket during the first half of Duke's clash with James Madison.

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—No. 4-seed Duke survived its first round of the NCAA tournament Friday evening against Vermont, and is now looking to make it through a second against No. 12- seed James Madison Sunday. The Blue Devils have dominated through 20 minutes and lead the Dukes 47-25:

Duke vs. everyone

“No one really likes us,” said freshman forward TJ Power Saturday afternoon during a team media availability. “We'll have Northwestern, UConn fans and JMU fans against us.” 

Power was not far off. The Barclays Center was packed with Huskies and Wildcats fans waiting for their respective teams to play after Duke and James Madison, and nobody except the Blue Devil faithful were cheering for Duke. James Madison fans were persistent, too, chanting “J-M-U” even when the Dukes trailed by more than 20 points. Still — while James Madison certainly had more people in its corner, the Blue Devil contingent was loud enough to make that a non-issue for Duke. It took complete control of the half and never trailed.

Head coach Jon Scheyer said Saturday that a stadium full of booing doesn’t sound all that different from a stadium full of fans. Maybe he’s taught his team the trick.

Second-chance points

Five minutes into the game, Duke led James Madison 12-4. Seven of those Blue Devil points came from second chances. Duke opened scoring on a hot streak, with a Jared McCain triple followed closely by a Kyle Filipowski dunk and one of Jeremy Roach’s go-to close range jumpers. But more than half of the points the Blue Devils earned came on the heels of impressive rebounding from all five players on the court: Every starter but McCain had a board, and Filipowski had two. James Madison is not a small team, and these rebounds did not come easy — the Blue Devils simply kept their heads screwed on straight after nearly every missed basket, turning their follies upside-down.

Roach bounces back from injury

Less than half of the first period had elapsed when Duke’s team captain virtually collapsed on the bench, ostensibly nursing a hurt finger. It appeared to be a dislocation on his left pinky, but this has yet to be confirmed. The impact happened when Roach attempted to block a shot from James Madison’s Jaylen Carey and drew a foul. Carey made good on one of his attempts while the Blue Devil bench focused on the wounded captain.

Just a few minutes later, Roach was back on his feet with taped fingers, huddling with his teammates before heading back to the locker room accompanied by fellow senior Spencer Hubbard. At the next timeout, he was back in the stadium, and when it ended, he was back in position on the court.

James Madison stuck inside

The Dukes don’t have a bad record when it comes to outside shooting: On the season, they’re making 36.3% of their attempts beyond the arc. But against this Blue Devil squad, James Madison not only missed nearly all of its threes but could barely even attempt them. The Dukes shot 1-for-6 from the perimeter, unable to break past the Blue Devil backcourt defensive scheme. That meant relying mostly on layups — which were more lucrative, at 7-for-8, but hard for the Dukes to come by, thanks to aggressive rim protection from Filipowski and Mark Mitchell.

Player of the half: Jared McCain

After a relatively quiet first game in the Big Dance, McCain came back to take center stage, with 22 points in the first half. That is more points than any player has scored so far in a 2024 NCAA tournament half. His triple opened the scoring for the game on Duke’s very first possession, setting a trend for his shooting the rest of the half. He went 6-for-8 from deep, the first six of which landed in a neat row — no misses. When that fifth trey swished into the net, McCain tied Duke’s all-time freshman record for 3-pointers made in an NCAA tournament game, tying JJ Redick and Tre Jones. When he made his sixth, McCain beat out both program legends and crept up on Quinn Cook’s overall record of seven triples in a March Madness event.

Sophie Levenson profile
Sophie Levenson | Sports Managing Editor

Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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