The reintroduction of a player coming back from injury can go one of two ways. For Duke it didn’t quite go as planned. Freshman Tre Jones, who had missed Duke’s prior two games and the final 35 minutes of the Syracuse game re-entered the lineup against defensive-minded Georgia Tech. Coach K and staff worried about the effects of the noon time start on the energy of his young team and that worry was prophetic. The Blue Devils lack of energy coupled with the tough Georgia Tech zone defense put Duke at a halftime disadvantage off 2 points. The Yellow Jackets also controlled the glass in that first half to the tune of a 24 to 18 advantage. The Blue Devils were also ice cold from beyond the arc, only hitting on 2 of 21 shots for the game.
The Yellow Jackets used a 6-0 run to take an 8 point lead the 18 minute mark of the second half. The Blue Devils used the next 4 minutes to battle back and tie the game at 38 before going on a 20 to 8 run to take a 58-46 lead and seal the game.
R.J. Barrett led the Blue Devils with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Barrett recorded his ACC-leading 16th 20-point game and his third double-double. Zion Williamson finished with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor, with seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Cam Reddish, despite struggling from the field affected the game in other ways. Reddish dished out 6 assists, had 5 steals and 6 rebounds to go along with his 7 points. Tre Jones in his return went 3-7 from the floor scoring 6 points. Jones dished 4 assists to only 1 turnover.
Duke got a huge second half boost from Alex O’Connell who went 2-5 from the field for 4 points. O’Connell also pulled down 3 rebounds and had one steal and gathered several loose balls for the Blue Devils.
Duke shot a season low 9.5% from the 3 point line. Where the Devils did show marked improvement in this game was from the free throw line where the Blue Devils went 16-19.