The first half of tonight's game was a bit lackluster, from many
perspectives. The game seesawed back and forth, without any real impressive
runs or plays by either team. The crowd too, while packed to the brim (all
1200 bracelets were given out for tonight's game) was a bit on the quiet
side. By Cameron standards, that is. They did greet Jason Collier with
thousands of paper snakes and hisses during introductions, playing off of
his admitted fear of snakes. Casey Sanders was put into the game around the
midpoint of the half, and promptly cost us two defensive rebounds, at which
point he was pulled from the game. He did not get any more action until
garbage time, which is too bad, because you can see the excitement in his
eyes when he is on the floor. His shortcomings are certainly not due to a
lack of effort, and I am looking forward to seeing him play more in the
future. We shot a bit too many three pointers again in the first half, and
at times Alvin Jones had a clear advantage over Boozer on the inside. To
his credit, Boozer did not pick up too many fouls (only two in the first
half), but he was simply overmatched for most of the half - only six points
from our center.
The second half, however, was an entirely different story. It was as
if we brought out a completely new team from the locker room. Duke quickly
extended the lead to seven, and following a short run by Georgia Tech, they
really took the game over. The dominance began with the play of Nate James,
diving over the scorer's table to chase a loose ball. As he got up, he
pumped his fists in the air, and the crowd responded raucously. This was
then followed by a strong block by Battier, and you could feel the momentum
building. A few plays later, Battier was absolutely assaulted by Alvin
Jones on the defensive end, as he kind of jump-tackled him from behind. The
look that Battier shot Jones on the way up was one of pure anger. I've
never seen such a look of disdain and ire on his face before, but it really
fired up the crowd and the team, and Shane played like a man possessed for
the rest of the game. A few minutes later he had a huge two-handed
put-back dunk. Alvin Jones forgot to block him out on this play, and
Battier really let him know about it on the way down, screaming with his
mouth wide open. Later in the half Shane would hit back-to-back threes from
the top of the key. The second put us up by twenty, and was the nail in the
coffin for Georgia Tech. Even Coach K showed some genuine excitement,
jumping off the bench and cheering during the ensuing time-out.
I also have to mention the play of Mike Dunleavy, who took over the game
for a few minutes in the second half, beginning with a beautiful drive
through the lane for a lay-up. He then found himself guarding Alvin Jones
in the post, and instead of trying to block the big man, he smartly waited
for him to bring the ball down low and slapped it right out of his hands.
He followed up with a three pointer on the other end, really an excellent
sequence of basketball. He was also extremely solid from the line tonight.
Jason Williams played a much smarter second half as well, driving strong
when the lane was open, and doing a great job of protecting the basketball.
In fact, the team as a whole did a much better job of taking care of the
ball than we did against Maryland.
With about three minutes left, Georgia Tech all but gave up, and we
ended the game with a twenty-five point lead. As the clock dwindled down,
the crowd ended with a strong chorus of "Our House", "Our House". And it
was, for the forty-third time in a row.