Duke was cruising to an easy win in the rebuilt Thriller Dome when Georgia Tech suddenly and unexpectedly showed the heart of a lion.
They still lost, but they absolutely won the last part of the game in every aspect except the final score.
It didn't start out like that. Duke was rolling for most of the game even though Marvin Bagley had to sit out with an apparently minor knee issue.
Playing in his home town, Wendell Carter more than held his own inside for most of the game, finishing with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks and two assists. Carter was superb.
Replacing Bagley as a starter, Marques Bolden held his own with eight points and six rebounds. In the last three games, he’s hit 10-13 from the floor.
Gary Trent didn’t shoot well but finished with 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
And Grayson Allen scored more than 20 for the first time since the Florida State game on December 30th. He finished with 23.
As usual at this time of the year, or at least it’s common enough to be no surprise, Coach K tried a different lineup and started Alex O’ Connell instead of Trevon Duval.
Neither had huge statistical night but both had key plays, notably a three pointer by Duval later in the game.
Like Bolden, DeLaurier now appears healthy and ready to contribute again.
So in spite of missing Bagley, Duke was rolling over Georgia Tech and had as much as a 25 point lead and Georgia Tech, already desperately thin, lost Jose Alvarado to an elbow injury that looked on television as if his radius and ulna had completely separated. It was so disturbing that ESPN declined to show it again and the freshman point guard soon left for the hospital.
Things were looking grim for the Yellow Jackets, quite grim indeed.
Then things changed.
Duke was up 61-36 with 11:42 left when Georgia Tech, showing as much heart as any team we can remember in the past few years, fought its way back into it.
The Yellow Jackets seemed to get every rebound, seemed open and willing to fire - and hit - and befuddled the Blue Devils to the point where an insane comeback seemed completely possible.
By the time Duval hit his key three with 6:53 left, Georgia Tech had cut the lead to 12. Duval pushed it back to 15 at 68-53.
The comeback fizzled a bit after that shot but still, Tech kept coming and forced Duke to match its level, something few would have expected early in the game.
Georgia Tech in fact outscored Duke the rest of the way 16-12, but that wasn't nearly enough to pull it off.
But respect from Duke?
Hell yes. This team put the fear of God in Duke for a few minutes. When Evan Cole thundered down the lane and put a rebound back for a big-time dunk follow, anything seemed possible.
Fortunately though Duke regained its composure down the stretch and broke the comeback.
- With the win, Duke retains sole possession of third place in the ACC and prepares for a Valentine’s Day matchup with Virginia slayer Virginia Tech.
- Georgia Tech’s strange and sad season sees another setback
- For Tech and Pastner, Year 2 hasn’t been half as giddy
- Wendell Carter Jr. impresses in hometown to lead Duke men’s basketball past Georgia Tech
- Duke men’s basketball slotted as No. 2 seed in East in selection committee preview
- With Bagley sidelined, Duke snaps two-game losing streak, gets win over Georgia Tech
- Analysis: Duke basketball wins without Marvin Bagley III
- Five observations from Georgia Tech’s loss to No. 9 Duke
Player of the game vs. Georgia Tech
This poll is closed
Alex O’ Connell
If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR
Check out our October '17 t-shirt! || Drop us a line