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Jim Sumner On Duke-Georgia Tech

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Paul Hewitt took Duke by surprise a little bit Sunday night and his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets rode that element of surprise to a surprisingly competitive first eighteen minutes. But Duke used a late-half surge to gain some separation from the visitors and dominated the second half, rolling to a 79-57 win and running their record to 25-2 (12-1 ACC).

With Brian Oliver out with a broken left thumb, Tech relies heavily on Iman Shumpert and Glenn Rice, Jr. for the bulk of its offense. The duo have combined for 31 points per game this season. The third leading scorer is Mfon Udofia, at 7.4 points per game.

Mike Krzyzewski said the game plan was to "run people" at Shumpert and Rice. But Hewitt surprisingly started only one of his big men, along with four perimeter players. Krzyzewski said that Duke "got spread out too much, reaching and grabbing." Maurice Miller got some good looks, Duke lost big man Daniel Miller inside and the Blue Devils were called for eight fouls in the first 9:46.

That's personal fouls. Foul number eight occurred when Tyler Thornton was shoved to the ground by Shumpert and somehow picked up a foul for his trouble. The scrum took place about five feet in front of Krzyzewski, who was none to happy about it and even less happy when Bryan Kersey assessed him a technical foul.

"It happens," Krzyzewski said. "There's no sense in talking about it. Obviously, when that happens, you're not going to agree with it, but it doesn't make a darned bit of difference, and you just go on to the next thing."

Shumpert got four foul shots out of the deal and made all four, giving Tech an 18-13 lead.

Things went downhill for the Jackets in a hurry after that. Duke adjusted defensively, forcing Tech to make contested shots. They couldn't. Tied at 28, Tech missed its last six shots of the half.

Duke meanwhile was pounding its offensive boards, getting 16 second-chance points in the first half. Duke hit four 3-pointers in the first half and three of them came after offensive rebounds.

Hewitt said his team did lots of things it wanted to in the first half, including scoring in transition. But Duke's second chance points killed any momentum. That's about all we got from Hewitt, who treated the post-game with the alacrity of a man who just realized he was late for a tax audit.

Nolan Smith picked up two early fouls and sat out a good bit of the first half. Krzyzewski gambled, putting him back in with five minutes left in the half and Duke down 24-23. Smith immediately buried a 3 and Duke never again trailed.

Krzyzewski said he could put Smith back in because Tyler Thornton could defend Shumpert. Thornton clearly got under Shumpert's skin, as Duke harassed Tech's best player into a 4-16 shooting game.

Duke finished the first half with a 9-0 run, a sequence Krzyzewski called "beautiful." Tyler Thornton ended the scoring with a floater in traffic, making it 37-28.

Duke continued its run after intermission, getting scoring from a variety of players, Singler on a jumper, a lay-up by Mason Plumlee, a 3-pointer by Smith and a lay-up by Singler. It was 46-31 and Tech's upset hopes had been dashed.

Nolan Smith controlled much of the second half, as he has controlled much of the season for Duke. His stat line of 28 points, seven rebounds and four assists is one of his best in a season of superlatives.

Krzyzewski said Smith is still getting better. "You get better if you want to get better and he wants to get better. He understands the responsibility of showing up every game."

Krzyzewski also gave kudos to Mason Plumlee (nine points, nine rebounds) and Ryan Kelly (10 points, six rebounds). With Singler adding nine rebounds to go along with his 15 points, Duke outrebounded Tech 41-37 and had a 21-4 advantage on second-chance points.

Krzyzewski said his team doesn't much care whether it's ranked number one after this week's polls come out. "We need to take care of our business. Everything will take care of itself. The big guys are getting better, the defense is pretty solid, we're rebounding well. When ever we take care of the ball the way we did tonight (18 assists, 10 turnovers), we do pretty well. When we don't turn it over, they have to come against a set defense and that's been our staple for a long time."


Krzyzewski gave a long and impassioned criticism of Sunday games, which he called "horrible. They should be outlawed. I don't think it helps our league." Krzyzewski maintained that playing games on Saturdays instead would help attendance and keep teams from having to play three games in six days, as Duke is scheduled to do this week.

Smith's 28 points marks the 16th time he's scored at least 20 points this season, the seventh he's had at least 28. Smith is averaging 21.7 points per game this season. Only Danny Ferry (1989) and J.J. Redick (2005, 2006) have had higher averages during Krzyzewski's tenure. Smith is doing all this while leading the ACC in assists, averaging almost five rebounds per game and playing defense at a high level.

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