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5 observations from No. 9 Duke men’s basketball’s first half against Wake Forest



Following a comfortable home victory against Boston College, No. 9 Duke wraps up its homestand Monday night against Wake Forest. In a close first half, the Blue Devils hold a narrow 29-27 lead on the Demon Deacons:

A sloppy start

Energy was at a high early into this highly anticipated ACC matchup as both teams looked to push in transition. The result, however, was rushed play that resulted in four total team fouls across both squads and three early Duke turnovers in the first five minutes. Nonetheless, the Blue Devils’ efficient 3-point shooting allowed them to extend an early lead, with senior guard Jeremy Roach and sophomore center Kyle Filipowski knocking down shots from distance.

Filipowski’s aggressiveness

In Filipowski’s last outing against Boston College, he started slow – lacking energy and intensity in a first half where the Eagles hung with the Blue Devils. On Monday night, the sophomore’s energy could not be any more different. The first possession brought a Filipowski triple and as the half progressed he continued to be aggressive, including a spin-move finish in traffic and a loud block on the other end. In his first eight minutes, Filipowski tallied five points on 2-of-3 shooting. 

Wake’s shooting woes

Entering tonight’s matchup, Wake Forest was second in the ACC in its scoring, but Monday night, its execution on the offensive end could not have been any different. The Demon Deacons started an ice-cold 0-of-11 from deep and 21.7% overall, their first make coming from Damari Monsanto at the 8:10 mark and a second less than a minute later. Nonetheless, as the matchup progressed Duke’s offense was not much better, and although shooting 28.2% from the field, Wake Forest was able to tie the matchup up at 16 apiece with just under eight minutes to go and stay close for the rest of the half.

Reid’s early foul trouble

After the under-eight timeout, the referees correctly reassigned a Wake Forest foul to the Demon Deacons’ 7-foot center Efton Reid III. Reid entered Monday’s matchup averaging 8.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, an important piece to Wake Forest’s interior defense. Immediately following his absence, Filipowski hit a midrange jumper and then found sophomore forward Mark Mitchell on a cutting slam. After leaving the game, Reid would not return for the remainder of the half, depriving the Demon Deacons of its inside presence on both ends. 

Player of the half: Mark Mitchell

Through the first 20, Mitchell’s consistency on both ends was key to Duke’s two-point lead going into the second half. Tallying 7 points on 3-7 shooting, Mitchell’s performance was indicative of all of his strengths. He cut, finished at the rim, and played tough defense on both guards and forwards. Alongside Filipowski, Duke’s two forwards were key in stretching the Blue Devil lead to as large as seven, regardless of their subpar 3-for-14 shooting from distance.  

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