INDIANAPOLIS – Quick halftime thoughts from Duke’s 39-31 halftime lead on West Virginia.
Duke did to West Virginia what the Mountaineers did somewhat to Kentucky in the Elite Eight. Scheyer, Singler and Smith made 7 of the 14 3s attempted by Duke.
The pregame storyline was who would control the backboard and the answer was – Duke. The Blue Devils had seven offensive rebounds and kept plenty of possessions alive. The unselfish play by Duke was evident as it had 12 assists on 16 field goals.
Singler is playing like a high draft pick in this tournament. He continues to hunt his shot, make tough ones from behind the 3-point line and can get to the hole.
The Mountaineers started to find their rhythm and did shoot 50 percent in making 13 of 26 shots, 4 of 7 3s. The problem was Duke shot over 50 percent.
Deniz Kilicli was a factor in the first half by scoring four points in five minutes but did have a costly turnover that led to a bucket.
Joe Mazzulla got pummeled multiple times. His shirt was torn and he had to get a new one with a fresh number. He looked like he hurt his ankle and then his head. But he stayed in the game and played 16 of the 20 minutes. The Mountaineers must have him on the court to have a chance.
Da'Sean Butler has to find his groove. He is just 1-of-5 from the field. The Mountaineers can’t win if he doesn’t get untracked.
Devin Ebanks is the Mountaineers’ stud so far. He’s playing with more enthusiasm, emotion and purpose than I’ve seen at any point this season. He was 4-of-5, got a three-point play when the Mountaineers needed it most and finished with nine points in 17 minutes.
Duke is 20 minutes away from facing Butler in the final. That would be perceived as the ultimate David vs. Goliath, even though in this season, the Bulldogs aren’t far off from being an equal.