FIRST HALF: Duke-Pitt Live Blog

HALFTIME, Duke 34 Pitt 22: Pitt narrowed the margin at the end of the half, but if you’re a Duke fan, you have to be happy with that first half. Playing a high-quality opponent, a double-digit halftime lead is not something to frown on. Singler and Henderson lead Duke with eight points apiece, a number that’s even more significant for the latter, who was quickly saddled with two fouls. Fields leads the Panthers with nine. We’re off to the press room for some free snacks, but check back in the second half for more updates.

2:35, Duke 31 Pitt 18: All of a sudden, the Blue Devils have broken this game wide-open and have earned the first standing ovation of the night. Paulus hit his favorite type of shot (a 3-pointer fading to the left) before the Duke defense forced three consecutive turnovers. Then Singler sunk a pretty 8-foot, turnaround, fadeaway jumper, and Henderson followed that with a gorgeous fadeaway of his own. The sophomore forward followed that jumper with a steal and fast-break layup to bring the crowd to its feet. Duke fans stayed up when King sunk a deep 3-pointer from the corner, which, we’ve been told, Jay Bilas called “a layup” for him. Dixon called a 30-second timeout and Levance Fields canned a 3-pointer to break Pitt’s dry spell. Still, Duke leads by 13, thanks in part to Pitt’s 14 turnovers. Does anyone else think Singler and Henderson look a little bit too comfortable making NBA-like jumpers in the home of the NBA’s worst franchise?

7:46, Duke 19 Pitt 13: The Blue Devils have come alive, thriving despite Pitt’s physical challenge. The defense has clamped down, resulting in only one Panthers bucket since the last media break, and has forced a bevy of turnovers, as well. Thomas shows no sign of a lingering ankle injury, getting great position in the post two possessions in a row, one resulting in two free throws and the other winding up with an attempt at an old-fashioned three-point play after the forward made a layup and was fouled. Credit Paulus for LT‘s first three throw attempt, as the savvy point guard worked a beautiful pick-and-roll and found Thomas with just three seconds remaining on the shot clock. One more note: Singler just reeks of more offensive confidence, and despite a recent air-ball, he looks as good as he has been since winning MVP honors at the Maui Invitational over Thanksgiving break.

11:35, Duke 14 Pitt 11: Scheyer promptly proceeded to be knocked down on consecutive 3-point attempts, but only the second foul was called. The Scheyer tackles seem to be a part of Pittsburgh’s game plan: play more physical than Duke, and see what happens. Given Duke’s small lineup, it might not be the worst approach. The referees have let a lot of the rough play go so far, much to the chagrin of the Duke coaching staff, especially Krzyzewski, who has been off the bench for a good portion of the first eight minutes. Even though he has been more animated tonight, Krzyzewski looks calm compared to Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon, who has been clapping and pacing the sidelines all half. Henderson is about to check back into the game, even with two fouls.

15:05, Duke 7 Pitt 5: Henderson has already been relegated to the bench with two fouls, one trying to block a dunk attempt and another on a player-control offensive foul. For the first time in a few games, Singler looks to be shouldering the scoring load for Duke. The freshman already has four points, both on tough inside finishes, and the Duke defense has forced a few turnovers with its trademark, tight man-to-man defense. The Panthers have missed two dunks, too, putting them on pace to miss about 20. Good times. Reserves Jon Scheyer and Taylor King are already in the game, giving the Blue Devils a more guard-oriented lineup. We’ll see if King’s sniping ability translates well to a venue other than Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Spotted here in the last 30 seconds: former standout point guard Jason Williams, looking dapper in a dark suit, and reigning Tewaaraton Trophy winner Matt Danowski, in a more casual outfit.

Just saw a sign that says: “Welcome to Cameron Square Garden.” That distinction doesn’t seem like such a stretch, given the decidedly pro-Duke crowd here in New York.

Starting Lineups:

Pittsburgh: Sam Young, Mike Cook, DeJuan Blair, Levance Fields, Ronald Ramon; Duke: Kyle Singler, Lance Thomas, Greg Paulus, Gerald Henderson, DeMarcus Nelson

For all the talk about Thomas being questionable with an injured ankle tonight, it’s interesting to see that the forward from nearby Scotch Plains, N.J. is playing.

Greetings from Madison Square Garden, the World’s Most Famous Arena, for tonight’s marquee matchup between No. 6 Duke and No. 11 Pittsburgh. The reportedly sell-out crowd is slowly filing in, and there is a strong Duke contingent, as expected. My co-writer, Lauren Kobylarz, estimates that for every Pittsburgh fan, there are at least three Duke fans. Lauren also tells me that she learned in Statistics that such a statistic implies that the crowd is 75% Duke, which the rousing cheers the Blue Devils just received for running on to the floor seems to corroborate.

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1 Comment

Filed under Live Blog, Men's Basketball

One response to “FIRST HALF: Duke-Pitt Live Blog

  1. King

    zooooubek might be worse than gheorge muresan

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