Duke (11-3, 0-1) – Georgia Tech (9-5, 0-1) Preview
Randy Dunson & Brian Horace
January 7, 2014
Duke hosts Georgia Tech in Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday for the ACC home opener. Duke has won six straight ACC home openers with their last loss in an ACC home opener coming against Virginia Tech, 69-67, on January 6, 2007. Duke is ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press and No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Blue Devils are 10-9 all-time when ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll. However, for the first time since November 19, 2007, Duke is ranked outside the AP Top 10. Duke played 225 consecutive games and spent 122 straight weeks in the top 10 before falling to No. 16 in Monday’s poll. Duke went 186-39 (.827) during that run for the second longest top-10 streak in NCAA history. Saturday’s loss at Notre Dame snapped Duke’s five-game winning streak. All five wins were by double figures with Duke owning a +21.4 scoring margin in that span.
Coach Brian Gregory led Georgia Tech to a winning season during his second season at Georgia Tech. Conference play proved very tough for the Yellow Jackets, but the program has for the most part has been moving in the right direction. The return of four starters could lead to big things this season with sophomore guard/forward Marcus Georges-Hunt being one of the players leading the way. The 6-5 wing is currently scoring just over 11 PPG on 46 FG%. He is a capable outside shooter and a great slasher. Senior guard Trae Golden (12.9 PPG & 42 FG%) joins him in the backcourt. Senior center Daniel Miller (10.2 PPG & 7.9 RPG) and sophomore forward Robert Carter (10.3 PPG & 9.3 RPG) round out the frontcourt. However, Tech learned last week that Carter, Jr., would be sidelined indefinitely after sustaining a tear of the meniscus in his left knee during the Yellow Jackets’ game at Charlotte last Sunday. An MRI taken Tuesday revealed the tear, and Carter, Jr., will undergo surgery today. Senior Kammeon Holsey (6.5 PPG, 48 FG%, 5.4 RPG), who had started 43 games in his first two seasons at Tech but none last year, returned to the starting lineup at Maryland to replace Carter, Jr. That is Tech’s second significant lineup change in the last two games.
Team Seasons Thus Far
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Looking to rebound from a 77-61 loss in its ACC opener Saturday at Maryland, Georgia Tech finishes off a four-game road stretch with a visit to Duke tonight, who are 2-2 on opponents’ home courts this season and 2-4 away from Atlanta. In its third season under head coach Brian Gregory, Tech (9-5, 0-1) entered ACC play with its best offensive numbers during that period in several categories. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 71.2 points per game while hitting 43.9 percent of their field goal tries, 29 percent of their threes and 70.3 percent of their free throws. Tech also has outrebounded every opponent so far and has a +6.9 rebound margin for the season. Defensively, Tech ranks 57th nationally in scoring yield (65.9 PPG) and 28th in field goal percentage defense (38.8%) while also ranking 27th in rebound margin and 66th in assists. Following Tuesday’s game, Tech returns home for three straight games, beginning with a Saturday game against Notre Dame at McCamish Pavilion.
Duke Blue Devils
Duke fell 79-77 in its ACC opener against Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The loss was Duke’s first in an ACC opener since January 6, 2007 and the program’s first to an ACC newcomer in the new league opponent’s conference debut. Quinn Cook and Rodney Hood combined for 49 points and both topped the 20-point plateau for Duke. Hood led the way with 27 points, shooting 8-of-17 from the field and 5-of-10 from three-point range, while Cook totaled 22 points with four assists.
Duke leads the ACC in scoring (84.6 PPG) and FG% (.496), both marks rank in the top-20 in the country. The Blue Devils have scored 80 or more points 10 times, while shooting 50 percent or better from the field on six occasions. Duke has lost back-to-back games just once since the start of the 2009-10 season. The Blue Devils are 21-1 in games following a loss during that span with the only consecutive losses coming in the 2012 ACC and NCAA Tournaments. Duke’s 79-77 loss to Mike Brey-led Notre Dame Saturday marked the first time head coach Mike Krzyzewski has lost to one of his former assistant coaches. Krzyzewski is 18-1 all-time against his former assistants.
On the year, Jabari Parker leads the Blue Devils in scoring with 20.4 PPG. Parker also leads the team in rebounding with 7.7 boards per contest, while Quinn Cook leads the team with 6.1 APG and has recorded two or more steals in each of the last six games and ranks sixth in the ACC at 1.9 steals per game. Andre Dawkins leads the ACC with a .492 (31-of-63) three-point shooting percentage. He is averaging 9.3 points in just 14.2 minutes per game. Dawkins is shooting .523 (23-of-44) from three-point range in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Rodney Hood is fifth in the ACC in scoring (17.9 PPG), fifth in field goal percentage (.519), and eighth in free throw percentage (.847). Hood is the only player to rank in the top 10 in all three categories. Amile Jefferson has led Duke in rebounding in four of the past six games and is averaging 8.7 boards per game during that stretch. Jefferson leads Duke with 33 offensive rebounds this season and has multiple offensive rebounds in five straight games.
Duke leads the overall series 66-23, and is 53-19 against Tech since the Jackets joined the ACC. Duke has won 29 of the last 32 games in the series. The Blue Devils won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams each of the last three years, including a 73-57 decision in Durham on January 17 of last season. Tech has won just five of 37 games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the first four coming in (1959, 1984, 1987, and 1996). Tech’s most recent win occurred on March 3, 2004 in a 76-68 victory, which snapped a 41-game home court winning streak for the Blue Devils.
The Yellow Jackets are 2-2 straight up in true road games this season. The losses came at Maryland and Vanderbilt on the road. The road wins came at Charlotte and Georgia. Georgia Tech shooting makes 43.8% from the floor ranking 218th in college basketball. From three the team connects on 28.7% which ranks 329th in the nation. Duke is 11-3 straight up in the 2013-14 campaign with the 79-77 road defeat last Saturday to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Blue Devils are 8-0 straight up on their home court. They have a notable home win to Michigan and a neutral court victory to UCLA by 17 points. Duke ranks in the top 18 of college basketball in three key offensive categories, which are field goal and three point shooting along with scoring offense
Georgia Tech enters a very hostile environment tonight. However, Duke has been tested more than once this season in Cameron Indoor. There are four keys (factors) that heavily favor Duke though and one (but very important) one for Tech. Duke has the edge in the following, 57% to 43% eFG%, 15% to 19% TO%, and 43% to 37% FT rate. Georgia Tech has a 35% to 31% edge in OR% (40 to 35 edge in total RPG).
Reviewing current performance metrics, Duke has an edge in one significant category, scoring, where the Blue Devils have the upper hand over the Yellow Jackets, 84.6 points per game to 71.2 points per game. From a tempo-free perspective, Duke is strong in the following categories: effective field goal percentage at 57.4 and turnover percentage at 14.7. Given this, the keys for Duke remain the same as they were against Notre Dame; win the battle on the boards, the 50-50 plays, and turnovers. They depended mightily on the 3-point shot as a weapon in their last outing, making 12 of 28 (43%), however they were dominated on the inside being outscored 46-14 in the lane. Bench production remains a key stat for Duke as well, however the use, or lack thereof, of bench players at pivotal points in games is questionable in this writer’s opinion.
As previously noted, the Yellow Jackets are averaging 71.2 points per game and shooting 43.9% from the field as a team this year. Georgia Tech does a decent job distributing the basketball of the offensive end of the floor and they do a great job hitting the glass, averaging 40.1 rebounds per game. However, Georgia Tech is catching Duke on a bad day and in what is always a hostile environment. Duke will be fired up coming off their loss on Saturday. This should bode well for the Devils.