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Next Up - Georgia Tech

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Next up for Duke is Georgia Tech, a rematch after the Devils lost to the Yellow Jackets 71-67 on January 9th. While Coach K has appealed to Duke fans to ratchet things up for this game, to make it a signature Cameron event, Paul Hewitt has been piping in recorded crowd noises from Cameron to simulate the atmosphere, down to repeating the fight song (we're guessing this means Devil With The Blue Dress On) over and over and over. They can try, but you can't simulate what happens in Cameron, and certainly not if we follow Coach K's request and take things to the next level.

Georgia Tech is a load up front, with Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors, either of whom could start for any team in the ACC.

But that's not all they have. Since they played Duke the first time, they gotten Iman Shumpert back at full strength. The 6-5 guard sat out for a while with a knee injury, but his performance in Chapel Hill and other games suggests that he's fully recovered.

D'Andre Bell, who sat out last season after surgery to correct a potentially dangerous spinal problem, usually starts as a defensive specialist. And starting at the other guard is freshman Mfon Udofia. Tech has struggled at point guard for the last several years, but Udofia can be a solution. He has pushed Maurice Miller out of the lineup, and indeed, pretty much out of the rotation.

Zach Peacock leads the reserves, but that's a misnomer since he started most of his career for Tech and really can't be considered a reserve. Brian Oliver and Glen Rice round out the rotation. Oliver as you know is a dangerous three point shooter, while Rice, unlike his famous father, is more of a slasher than a spectacular shooter.

During the Hewitt era, Georgia Tech has followed John Thompson's original Georgetown model: lots of pressure defense with liberal substitutions, with the goal being to exhaust your opponent as soon as possible. The offensive counter, as it was at Georgetown, has been erratic. In their last game, against Kentucky State, coached by former Yellow Jacket Clarence Moore, Moore spotted what he thinks is the problem with Hewitt's team this year: "You have to have a vocal leader and someone who is willing to get on guys and know that he’s going to catch it at some point as well," he said after losing to his old team.

In their last several games, Tech lost to Virginia, 82-75, nearly blew an 18 point lead to UNC, before winning 73-71 then beat Clemson 66-64 before losing to Florida State, 68-66. They took Wake Forest apart, 79-58 before playing DII Kentucky State, which was a complete (an irrelevant) mismatch.

It's still a very young team with just two seniors. There are only two important juniors, three sophomores and six freshmen, although if we are correct, two are redshirting: 6-8 Kammeon Holsey, due to injury, and 6-11 Daniel Miller, who they can afford to hold out with their talent up front.

In the article linked above, Zach Peacock frets about what Cameron Crazies might have on him:

"'Do they sit home and just Google everything they can about you?'" he asked.

"Peacock conceded he has taken a little inventory this week, trying to reassure himself he's got nothing to be targeted about. He smiled and said that's one of the reasons he doesn't divulge a lot on his Facebook page...

"'Even if you do win, it's hard to focus on it 100 percent,' Peacock said. 'I feel like it's 95 percent, just because of the craziness going on. It's going to catch your attention. You have no choice but to pay attention to it.'"

For Duke, coming off a tough loss to Georgetown, this is a key game. It's a key ACC game regardless, but now it's even more important. Duke got thoroughly blitzed by the Hoyas, and after a loss like that, it's important come back and show what you are made of.

It's not so much game about matchups as it is a game about heart and soul. In fact, arguably, it's more important to play with passion than it would be to win by 50 without it.

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