This was supposed to be their day.
The Blue Devils welcomed Mike Krzyzewski back to the sideline after he spent a month out recovering from back surgery. There were lots of smiles during warmups, and No. 21 Duke stole the show early.
Duke’s forced Pitt to use 58 seconds in the team’s first two offensive possessions, the second ending in the Panthers’ first of two shot-clock violations of the half. Duke’s cashed in on its first two offensive touches after two straight offensive rebounds to take an early lead.
Duke’s first four shots were assisted, and it finished the half with nine led by Grayson Allen’s four.
But after not scoring in the final 4 minutes and 55 seconds of the half, Duke went into the locker room tied with a Pitt team that has only one victory in the ACC.
Krzyzewski gave freshman Jayson Tatum an earful in the waning seconds of the half after he missed a layup, one of Duke’s seven consecutive misses to end the half.
Amile Jefferson was Duke’s lone double-figure scorer with 10 at halftime. Duke shot 41.4 percent in the first half to Pitt’s 50.
The Blue Devils have an entire second half to clamp down on the visitors and help their returning coach claim his 500th victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan