Duke Basketball: Jon Scheyer Seeks Solution to Recurring Issue

Ever since starting the half on a 23-12 run to grab a dominating 48-23 halftime lead over Pitt way back on January 9, the Duke basketball team hasn’t won the last few minutes of the first half in a game.

A few weeks ago, it appeared to be a fluke, but now it’s a well-established tendency. The following are the total runs scored by the previous seven opponents to either cut into the Blue Devils’ lead at the half, take the lead (see to the Jan. 20 home loss to Pitt) or increase it (refer to the Saturday night road defeat to UNC):

  • Notre Dame outscored Duke, 12-7, in the final 5:44
  • UNC outscored Duke, 19-11, in the final 6:17
  • Virginia Tech outscored Duke, 8-3, in the final 3:29
  • Clemson outscored Duke, 6-0, in the final 3:03
  • Louisville outscored Duke, 14-7, in the final 5:25
  • Pitt outscored Duke, 15-8, in the final 7:16
  • Georgia Tech outscored Duke, 21-11, in the final 9:20

As demonstrated in their 71-53 victory at home over the Fighting Irish (7-16, 2-10 ACC) on Wednesday night, the No. 9 Blue Devils (17-5, 8-3 ACC) have undoubtedly performed admirably in most of the aforementioned games at different points in the game. Nevertheless, their first-half performances’ poor finishing touches need to raise some serious concerns at this point.

Men's Basketball - Duke University

Thus, Blue Devil Country on SI.com questioned second-year Duke basketball head coach Jon Scheyer about the tendency after the Notre Dame game. The 36-year-old acknowledged that it has been a priority to discover methods to enhance play at the end of the first half, even though he was unable to immediately think of a simple fix:

We’ve talked a lot about this important topic, and I wish I knew the answer. Furthermore, even if it’s still a game, having these leads gives you a chance, as opposed to [what could have been a significant halftime advantage]. We actually led in the first half, with the exception of the Carolina game.

“So, you get a chance to stretch it, something we’ve done so well over the years here. But even earlier in the season, we were closing halves stronger. And we have to figure it out. I wish I had the answer for you right now. But we’ve talked about it. We’ve worked on it.

“At some point here, we just need to translate it. And by ‘some point,’ I hope that’s Saturday because it can come back to bite you in these games.”

NEXT DUKE BASKETBALL GAME: at home versus unranked Boston College (13-9, 4-7 ACC), 2 p.m. ET Saturday (ESPN)

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