clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Next Up - Georgia Tech

Home sweet home at last

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Duke
Jan 26, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski (left) talks to Georgia Tech Yellowjackets head coach Josh Pastner prior to a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Duke gets Georgia Tech at home on Tuesday and while the Yellow Jackets have been a reliable win for Duke for some time now, it won’t be as easy this year: this is Josh Pastner’s best team at Tech and Duke has been struggling and lost three straight.

  • Date: 1/26
  • Time: 9:00
  • Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium
  • Video: ESPN

The book on Pastner’s teams in Atlanta so far - until this year anyway - has been that they defend very well but struggle offensively.

Not so much now.

Jose Alvarado, Moses Wright and Jordan Usher are all shooting over 50 percent from the floor. Bubba Parham and Michael DeVoe aren’t great at 41.3 percent and 43.2 percent respectively, but they’re not disastrous.

Where Tech is not as good is from behind the line. The best regular? Wright at 46.7 percent but he’s only taken 15 on the season. DeVoe by contrast took 10 against Wake Forest and 12 against Georgia State. That was a four-overtime game, but still. He’s not shy about firing it up.

The hardest guys for Tech opponents to deal with though are likely Alvarado and Wright.

Alvarado is now a senior and he’s developed into a rock-solid point guard. Not many ACC players have come closer to their potential than has Alvarado. He’s really a great fit for that team and they draw a lot of their competitiveness from him.

And we love what Wright has done at Tech. The Raleigh native has gone from being a questionable project to a very solid ACC player. He hasn’t popped up on many mock drafts that we’ve seen but he’s shown enough that he’ll get invited to some camps and should have a long career, if not in the NBA, then overseas.

DeVoe as we said is dangerous as is Usher. DeVoe, a 6-5 junior, is big and athletic enough to go inside and Usher, who transferred back home from USC, is also athletic.

Parham is a smallish guard at 5-10 and at times looked overwhelmed last season after transferring from VMI. He’s been better this year. He’s also a sneaky good rebounder.

One issue Tech does have is depth. After those five, most of Tech’s minutes come from 6-7 junior Khalid Moore, who’s getting 21.5 per game, and 6-2 sophomore Kyle Sturdivant, who is getting 13 per game.

That’s counterbalanced by this: Tech starts four seniors and a junior. Who gets to do that these days?

And that’s a big challenge for a Duke team that has struggled with youth. That’s manifested itself in several ways, including inconsistent effort, although that’s gotten better, a lack of aggression on offense and both Matthew Hurt and Jalen Johnson have had an unfortunate tendency to get into foul trouble.

Duke has some interesting matchups in this game. We may see more zone - it theoretically helps to keep Hurt and Johnson out of foul trouble among other things - but in this game, Jordan Goldwire and Wendell Moore can be major assets for Duke.

One of the better defenders nationally, Goldwire is well suited to defend Alvarado or any perimeter player. Moore can guard DeVoe or Usher and possibly Alvarado and Wright as well, if needed.

And if you can stop, or at least blunt those two, your chances of beating the Yellow Jackets go up.

Essentially though this game is going to come down to a few things - playing hard for 40 minutes, limiting turnovers, confidence, defending well and taking the game to Georgia Tech.

And also staying out of foul trouble and getting to the line. One of the most remarkable things Duke did when it didn’t have talent to match schools like UNC, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia Tech and NC State back at the dawn of the K era, was to draw fouls. Because no matter how great they were, Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan, Len Bias, John Salley and Thurl Bailey never blocked a single foul shot.

Duke effectively neutralized talent by going to the line a lot.

If you wanted to sum it up, you could do it this way: intelligent aggression. And after that level is reached, you can go to the next: “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”

That’s how Napoleon put it. George Patton said it to his troops in English: audacity, audacity, always audacity.

Duke is always more fun when it plays audaciously.