No. 3 Duke decks Tech, rebounds from 1st loss
The sting from its first loss and the confusion caused by Ryan Kelly’s injury lasted an entire half on Thursday night for No. 3-ranked Duke.
A pair of freshmen helped show the Blue Devils the way back to top-flight basketball.
On the bench to start the game, Rasheed Sulaimon and Amile Jefferson started the second half and their energy sparked a Duke resurgence that ended with a 73-57 ACC basketball win over Georgia Tech at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mired in a 9 for 40 shooting slump, Sulaimon didn’t start a game for the first time this season as Duke went with junior Tyler Thornton. Jefferson, a 6-8 forward, was behind starter Josh Hairston Thursday night but he drew extra minutes as the Blue Devils seek answers for Kelly, who missed his second straight game with a right foot injury.
But Sulaimon tied his season high with three 3-pointers scoring 15 points to reach double-digits for just the second time in his last six games.
“He had about a month where he hasn’t played up to the level he had,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Tonight he did.”
Jefferson grabbed two offensive rebounds on one possession after entering the game in the first half. He finished with 10 rebounds and six points while blocking a shot and recording two steals.
“I thought Amile did an amazing job for us tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “Rasheed had his best performance since Temple (on Dec. 8). Those freshman helped us.”
They teamed with seniors Seth Curry (24 points with six 3-pointers) and Mason Plumlee (16 points, 13 rebounds) to help Duke (16-1, 3-1 in ACC) rebound after suffering its first loss of the season last Saturday at N.C. State.
After playing sluggishly over the first 20 minutes and experiencing its worst shooting first half of the season (27.3 percent), Duke changed its lineup, came out with a spark and shot 53.1 in the second half.
“I thought we were hesitant to shoot and no team of mine should be that way.” Krzyzewski said.
Trailing 28-27 at intermission, Duke started the second half with a 17-3 run to move ahead 44-31.
Plumlee gave Sulaimon and Jefferson credit for the improvement.
“Those guys both gave us a huge lift,” Plumlee said. “With Amile it’s his energy. The best thing he does is he rebounds and defends. Then he’s an opportunistic scorer.”
Quinn Cook started Duke’s second-half push with a 3-pointer to put Duke in front for good. Mason Plumlee blocked Robert Carter’s shot on the defensive end and got a hook shot to fall o the other end for a 32-28 Duke lead.
Chris Bolden’s 3-pointer temporarily slowed Duke’s charge. But the Blue Devils, in the midst of hitting field goals on nine consecutive possessions, had found their groove.
Plumlee fought hard to put back his own miss. After another Plumlee miss, Jefferson rebounded and scored to ignite a stretch where Duke scored 12 consecutive points.
A Curry 3-pointer and Plumlee dunk on a power move along the baseline caused Georgia Tech to call timeout.
With his team up 41-31, Krzyzewski ran on to the court, met his players at the half-court line and emphatically hugged Plumlee.
The timeout did little to help Georgia Tech, which missed eight of its first nine shots of the half while turning the ball over three times.
Curry’s 3-pointer with 15:21 to play gave Duke a 44-31 lead. The Blue devils extended their advantage to 14 points when Curry followed a Plumlee miss for a 46-32 Duke lead with 14:47 to play.
After Georgia Tech pulled back within 10 points, Sulaimon sank his third 3-pointer of the game for a 53-40 Duke lead with 9:25 to play.
Duke spent the first half trying to find an effective combination and, thus, trailing Georgia Tech most of the time.
The Blue Devils used nine players over the game’s first 10 minutes and their search for a flow on offense was complicated by shots simply not falling.
With Plumlee hitting just 2 of 12 shots, Duke’s woeful offense opened the door for the Yellow Jackets to think upset.
Georgia Tech led by as many as seven points and took a 28-27 halftime lead. That’s despite the Yellow Jackets turning the ball over 13 times before halftime.
It was just the third time this season Duke trailed at halftime.
The bright spot for Duke was Sulaimon’s resurgence. Coming off an 0-for-10 shooting day at N.C. State last Saturday, Sulaimon sank both his 3-pointers in the first half against Georgia Tech.
Jefferson also provided a spark with four points and six rebounds in the first half.
Their play caused Krzyzewski to insert both players, reserves at the start of the game, as starters for the second half.
No. 3 Duke 73, Georgia Tech 57
|Robert Carter Jr.||29||3-6||2-7||1-9||0||2||8|
Percentages: FG .379, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 4-16, .250 (Bolden 4-8, Udofia 0-1, Carter 0-1, Georges-Hunt 0-2, Poole 0-4). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 5 (Miller 2, Carter 2, Holsey). Turnovers: 21 (Carter 4, Holsey 4, Udofia 4, Poole 4, Miller 2, Georges-Hunt 2, Bolden). Steals: 4 (Poole 2, Miller, Georges-Hunt). Technical Fouls: Udofia.
Percentages: FG .400, FT .688. 3-Point Goals: 10-21, .476 (Curry 6-7, Sulaimon 3-4, Cook 1-5, Murphy 0-2, Thornton 0-3). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 5 (Mas. Plumlee 3, Jefferson, Cook). Turnovers: 13 (Mas. Plumlee 5, Cook 2, Curry 2, Sulaimon, Mar. Plumlee, Jefferson, Murphy). Steals: 10 (Cook 3, Mas. Plumlee 3, Jefferson 2, Hairston, Thornton). Technical Fouls: Cook.
A—9,314. Officials—Jamie Luckie, Brian Dorsey, Ed Corbett.