Looks like Josh Pastner may have something good going on in Hot ‘Lanta,
Just not good enough. Duke had to dig deep Wednesday night in McCamash Pavilion to overcome Georgia Tech 73-64.
The game was much closer than the final score suggests. After falling behind 12-6 Duke closed the first half on a 29-11 run to take a 40-29 lead into intermission, behind Vernon Carey’s 11 points.
But it wasn’t going to be that easy. Duke was still up 50-42 when they hit the wall.
Duke went almost six minutes without a point, five missed field goals, one missed foul shot, four turnovers and a Duke timeout, with the Blue Devils down 53-50.
“Then, in the second half, they came out and we gave them nine quick points and it looked like the whole thing was going to turn,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our kids showed some amazing toughness. They really hung in there. Cassius [Stanley], who was not playing as well as he has been playing, played great. He responded [by] coming off the bench after a timeout and made some sensational plays. I just think our kids were real tough.”
Stanley ended the slump and did he ever, converting a fast-break pass from Tre Jones into a spectacular dunk; the ensuing foul shot tied it at 53.
It was the first of three jaw-dropping dunks by Stanley down the stretch, any of one of which could have caused a lesser team to fold its tent and find something else to do.
Mike Krzyzewski was impressed.
“For a freshman especially to turn that around in a game--an away game. That’s huge. That shows a lot about that kid. He made some sensational plays.”
But Tech hung in there. Jose Alvarado has turned into one of the ACC’s best point guards and James Banks has turned into one of the ACC’s best post players. They went head-to-head against Duke’s All-America candidates Tre Jones and Vernon Carey and didn’t concede an inch.
But Duke has hung its hat on its defense this season and it was that defense that put it away down the stretch. Jones hit a mid-range jumper to give Duke a 63-61 lead with 4:19 left. The Techsters went the final 5:23 of the game without a field goal, missing their last 11 field goal attempts, while Stanley, Carey and Jones made shots that gave Duke some separation.
And don’t forget the two huge foul shots by Javin DeLaurier that put Duke up by 6 with less than a minute remaining.
Still, Duke didn’t lock it up until a Jones foul shot gave Duke a 7-point (3 possession) lead with 28 seconds left.
“Probably the thing that’s really helped us in every game this year – playing defense, really.” Jones summed up the win. “We really sat down on the defensive end in those last few possessions. We got tough rebounds, tough plays. Jav (Javin DeLaurier) got a block, came down with the rebound, they fouled him, he had a one-and-one, hit both free throws, we came back and got another stop, went back [and] hit free throws again. Our defense once again – it seems like we say this game after game, but it’s so true that it’s definitely what’s getting us the wins right now.”
Pastner admitted that Duke’s depth wore his team down.
“We probably got a little tired because we exerted so much energy to get back. . . . We missed a lot of short shots right at the rim. And all you can ask for is an opportunity to get there. We missed a couple of open looks, and when I say you could live with it, in a sense, as a coach, is all you can ask for is you give yourself a chance to win the game and we had some opportunities.”
Stanley said this was just what Duke expected.
“Coach told us ahead of time [that] we’re not going to blow this team out, it’s going to be a fight and he was like ‘This is a real ACC game.’ Even in the middle of the game, he was like ‘This is more like an ACC game,’ and so he was just telling us we’ve got to tough it out, got to be a dog, it’s going to be tough, so that’s what he told us.”
The win was Duke’s 13th straight against Georgia Tech and their 8th straight of the season. At 4-0 in the ACC (14-1 overall), Duke is the only team undefeated in conference play.
Jones led Duke with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. Carey also had 16 points, with 6 rebounds, while Matthew Hurt, Stanley and Alex O’Connell contributed 14, 14 and 9 points respectively.
Alvarado led everyone with 18 points, 4 more than Banks.
There certainly are some things to work on before Wake Forest comes to town Saturday night. Led by Banks’ 15 rebounds Tech outrebounded Duke 39-30. Banks also had 7 blocks. The Blue Devils were 11-for-21 from the foul line, with Jones missing half of his 10 attempts.
But Duke shot 52 percent from the field, 6-for-12 on 3-pointers, while holding Tech to 36 percent shooting and forcing 17 turnovers.
Joey Baker got his second start but had four unproductive minutes. Jordan Goldwire got 37 minutes off the bench, as Duke’s bench outscored Tech’s 18-8.
And a shout-out to DeLaurier who overcame a slow start to give Duke 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and those big foul shots.
Krzyzewski praised both his seniors for making big plays down the stretch.
“Just some energy on defense. A big change in the first half… we had to change how we defended the ball-screen. They were just killing us. We read it or trapped it and that worked for the [first] half. In the second half, we didn’t do it as well and they kind of responded. Then we had to change a little bit with that. Jack [White] made a couple big plays – the three but also a block. It’s the way our team’s been. It’s like a collection of guys hopefully doing enough to come up with a big-time win.”
- Cassius Stanley soars as Duke men’s basketball survives against Georgia Tech
- BOX SCORE (PDF)
- POSTGAME NOTES (PDF)
- COACH K QUOTES (PDF)
- DUKE PLAYER QUOTES (PDF)
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Player Of The Game vs. Georgia Tech
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Alex O’ Connell