Duke Comes Back to Beat Gritty Ga. Tech, 66-53

The score doesn’t tell the story of a game that was truly two in one this Saturday afternoon. Duke defeated Georgia Tech 66-53 after trailing by as many as eight in the second half. Zion and RJ yet again combined for over 40 points. In the first half, especially towards the end, the shots just weren’t falling. You can credit Tech’s defense: they defended the basket well and it took Duke a little bit to figure out a type of zone of the likes they hadn’t seen. They weren’t going to let RJ and Zion bully them in the paint and were willing to sacrifice some outside defense. After a timeout taken by Coach K and a Zion Williamson dunk, however, you could tell that the Jackets’ lead wouldn’t last and the momentum switched remarkably.

With 18 minutes to go in the second half, Duke trailed by 8 and took a timeout. After that timeout, Duke outscored Georgia Tech 39-18. Zion Williamson had some SportsCenter-worthy dunks (as per usual) to get the crowd into it and in just those 18 minutes Duke was able to rout the Yellow Jackets. We do need to remember, though, that

The big storyline today was the return of Tre Jones. We’re very happy to see that Tre was comfortable and even started and played 35 minutes. His shoulder didn’t seem to affect him. It was certainly Duke’s worst offensive outing of the season as the connection wasn’t automatic but it got going in the final minutes with a 26-point turnaround after falling behind by 8 (Tech scored the last 5 points of the game; the lead was, until then, 18).

The three-point shooting continues to be a big issue for the Blue Devils. Jack White has not produced of late and Cam Reddish hasn’t been as effective as we’d like him to be. RJ Barrett’s shot is still a work in progress, as versatile as he is. As long as the production on the defensive end is still high I see it as a smaller issue, but that’s something that needs to change come March. We’re getting in the the thick of the season and the two guys that we will look to are Jack White and Cam Reddish to knock those down.

I’d like to give a shoutout to our coaching staff today for supporting Coaches vs. Cancer’s Suits and Sneakers Week Campaign. Coach K himself wore the off-white Air Force 1’s while the assistant coaches repped Brotherhood member Kyrie.

Bleed blue.

Tre Jones Update and Ga. Tech

Tre Jones, after suffering an AC Joint Separation against Syracuse closing on two weeks ago, has been upgraded to “probable” for today’s matchup with Georgia Tech. As Duke fans we’re certainly excited to get him back, but need it be so soon? The last thing we need is a re-aggravated injury. A win against one of the best teams in the country in Virginia proves that we can survive without him if necessary and the offense has been a lot more fluid– when Tre was gone all of a sudden at Syracuse, I think it was a bit of a shock. It’s a home game in which Duke is -22.5. To be totally honest, I don’t really want him to come back now but I’m trusting the medical staff on this one.

Georgia Tech has played some good defense this year, but one of their main weaknesses against Duke will be size and talent. Talent is a problem for most teams but Georgia Tech plays small. However, it’s an area of focus for the Blue Devils as well– much like Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech uses its guards to get fouls in the interior. Jose Alvarado is much like Pittsburgh’s Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson, getting the to the line a lot with drives. Duke, however, did an excellent job of stopping that and playing hands-up defense, as neither scored a point from the line. Georgia Tech has, however, been competitive with good teams and even beaten Syracuse (a surprising manhandling of the 2-3 zone). They’re good on both ends of the court. This is no down game.

Here are the game notes:

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Duke Blue Devils

Time: 12:00pm

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2019

Venue: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, NC

TV: ACC Network

Radio: Blue Devil IMG Sports Network

Stream: WatchESPN

Bleed blue.

State of the ACC in 2019

Well, if you haven’t paid attention to the ACC in the last month, it’s time to start. Duke isn’t the only force on the coast as teams such as UVA made statements in late 2018 and look to make their name known in 2019 before March (which is only 2 months away!). Happy New Year! It’s time to separate the headliners and the rebuilders. Take a look.

North Carolina: Will the real Tar Heels please stand up?

These guys are hard to figure out. They looked alright playing mediocre teams, plus Stanford, at the beginning of the year, but weaknesses were exposed in an 89-92 loss to Texas. Kerwin Roach smoked the Heels’ defense for 32 points as the Tar Heels gave up 92 and couldn’t win despite Coby White’s 33 points. A win UCLA against is looking less and less impressive. The one shining star on the Tar Heels’ record would be a 103-90 win against then-4 Gonzaga, but inconsistency has been a big issue. Also, Roy Williams refuses to play athletic marvel, top recruit, and NBA prospect Nassir Little more than a few minutes a game. Little needs the exposure; he has the potential to go top-5 in the draft if he can impress scouts which I believe he can do easily. His productivity is impressive in the few minutes he is granted. The consistency lies in freshman PG Coby White: that kid is a star. UNC plays Pittsburgh on January 5.

Record: 9-3

Pittsburgh: Jeff Capel Turning A Bad Program Around

I’ve been bad about following this since former Duke assistant head coach Jeff Capel departed for Pitt, but he’s making a bad program look fun again! They’re not going to win the ACC or something, but he has them set to be a winning program. The recruits flow to him. Plus, their social media platforms have been hyped. It’s not going to happen instantaneously, but Pitt is creeping back into competition. I can’t wait to see what happens there next. Pitt contested throughout the whole game in a 68-69 loss to ranked Iowa. They play UNC on January 5.

Record: 10-3

NC State: They’re Legitimate.

This is what I can say about NC State right now: Wow! Kevin Keatts was apparently the answer for State. They’re currently ranked #18 in the country. Torin Dorn is an excellent player. I’m excited for NC State-UNC this year (an early January game): this rivalry seems to come to life more and more as NC State revitalizes itself after the Mark Gottfried disaster. Poll voters have mixed opinions as some put the Pack near the top 10 while others didn’t rank them at all. They’re an intriguing development and look good in the future. They have a strong record of 12-1 and have a huge win on the board against #8 Auburn, the only blemish being a loss to Wisconsin. Star player Markell Johnson, though, is apparently having an issue as head coach Kevin Keatts didn’t play him for “low energy”: “Markell was low energy. So when you’re low energy, you don’t play for me… It’s not about the guy that scores the most points, but the guy who plays the hardest. I wanted more energy from him, especially on the defensive end.” NC State plays Miami on January 3.

Record: 12-1

Virginia Tech: Hokies Better Than Ever

Yet another team is on the rise: Virginia Tech had high expectations at the beginning of the season and has lived up to the hype thus far. They did lose to Penn State but have otherwise kept a clean record and entered the top-10 for the first time in a while. They’re the only team in the conference with an ACC win after kicking off the conference stretch with an win vs. Notre Dame in which their offense shone. Yet again, a trip to Blacksburg will be no fun for anybody.

Clemson: A Competitor

In general, this Clemson team has a goal: to prove that last year’s Sweet Sixteen run was no fluke. They’ve beaten the teams, certainly, that they should beat with a few losses intermittently, but in general is a strong group. Marcquise Reed has returned from a knee sprain, giving them back their best player after a little under a month out. This Clemson team will certainly be a competitor in the ACC and will be no easy game for anyone. Clemson will play Duke on January 5.

Record: 10-3

Syracuse: Up and Down

They beat Ohio State, they lose to Old Dominion. They defeat Georgetown, they get beaten by Oregon. This season hasn’t been anywhere close to consistent for the Orange. Tyus Battle has continued to be a force after returning to New York for another season, but in general this team hasn’t quite found its identity. Hopefully for ‘Cuse fans, they can do so during ACC play.

Record: 9-4

Florida State: Top-10 Power

The Seminoles are set to have a pretty good season, their current #9 rank supported by quality wins over LSU and Florida (a rout). Phil Cofer is back from the squad that made the Elite Eight last year alongside Terance Mann who can both be major producers on the offensive end of the court. The ‘Noles, however, will get their first major test against #4 UVA on January 5.

Virginia: Final Four Contender (But Still, UMBC)

Well, get ready, because the Wahoos are just as good as they were last year. With lockdown defense, they can contend with anybody provided that they make something happen on offense. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome can do so at least most of the time, as well as (only) NBA prospect De’Andre Hunter. They are going to be a major favorite- though probably second to Duke- for the ACC crown and will be able to contend with anybody in the NCAA. As of now, they’re undefeated (though the strength of schedule is not there); however, Virginia has a history of choking when it matters most: March.

Record: 12-0


The remaining teams, their records, and their upcoming schedule:

Notre Dame

Record: 10-4

Next: vs. Syracuse, Saturday 12pm

Boston College

Record: 9-3

Next: @ 10 VA Tech, Saturday 12pm

Louisville

Record: 9-4

Next: vs. Miami, Sunday 6pm

Miami

Record: 8-4

Next: @ Louisville, Sunday 6pm

Georgia Tech

Record: 7-5

Next: vs. Wake Forest, Saturday 2pm

Wake Forest

Record: 6-5

Next: @ Georgia Tech, Saturday 2pm

Bleed blue. Get this: we finally get to watch our team play again! Duke takes on their first ACC foe in Clemson in Durham on Saturday at 8pm.