Duke Basketball: HALFTIME REPORT: Blue Devils cold against Hawks

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball team didn’t have a hot hand during the first half against the Hartford Hawks on Wednesday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but defense and dunks ensured a lead.

At the half, the visiting Hartford Hawks (3-6) may have no answer for the speed, power, and skills of the Duke basketball freshmen; however, the No. 3 Blue Devils (7-1) only lead, 33-24, as a result of a poor shooting performance.

This is the lowest-scoring first half of the season for Duke (39 in the loss to Gonzaga in Maui was the previous low).

Duke freshman shooting guard R.J. Barrett has a game-high 10 points. His shooting was the lone bright spot, going 4-for-8 from the field and 2-for-4 from the three. Freshman forward Zion Williamson has six points, and fellow freshman forward Cam Reddish — who went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc — has just two points. Freshman point guard Tre Jones and the lone non-freshman starter for the Blue Devils, junior big man Marques Bolden, each have four points.

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Bolden started the action with a dunk on Duke’s first possession and then a block on the other end. Next came a dunk by Williamson (his 21st on the season) and the first-half rout seemed to be officially on.

But it wasn’t.

The Blue Devils did run early and often; however, they couldn’t get many shots that weren’t layups or dunks to fall. In the first 10 minutes, they came down with 10 defensive rebounds and didn’t flinch in getting into transition, but many times the fast break resulted in a missed three.

If Duke could have hit more open shots from beyond the arc, the margin would have likely been double what it was at the half. The team started 0-for-10 from downtown before Barrett knocked one down from the corner with eight minutes to play in the half.

However, much credit goes to the Blue Devils’ lockdown defense for assuring a nine-point lead at the break. As a result of the Duke players aggressively jumping into passing lanes and stepping out to defend shots, they forced Hartford to shoot just 33 percent from the field (2-for-9 from three).

The Blue Devils, though, made just 40 percent of their attempts from the field (3-for-16 from three). If they want to put away the Hawks in the second half, the solution is simple:

Make some shots.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham after the game and tomorrow for more from the game between the Blue Devils and Hawks.