With a two-point Duke lead, J.J. Redick and Lee Melchionni teamed up for a steal, leaving Ra’Sean Dickey scrambling to get back on defense. Heading down the court, Redick pulled up and swooshed a three-pointer, enlivening Cameron Indoor Stadium midway through the first half of an 82-65 Blue Devils’ victory.
Then during the ensuing media timeout, head coach Mike Krzyzewski collapsed onto the floor, sending a scared silence throughout the building.
It took the Duke coach 30 seconds to return to his feet after slowing keeling over as his team’s huddle formed around him at the start of the timeout.
Krzyzewski said after the game that he got lightheaded—something that has happened to him several times during his 29-year coaching career.
“When you get up real quick, sometimes you get real lightheaded,” Krzyzewski said. “Usually when you get up, your feet are under you. I didn’t have a good base, so it stayed with me a little longer.”
Despite the extended timeout, Krzyzewski’s players maintained their energy, which they had from the get-go against No. 22 Georgia Tech Saturday.
Three days after the No. 4 Blue Devils (17-2, 7-2 in the ACC) suffered their second defeat of the season, they relied on aggressive defense and balanced scoring to hand the Yellow Jackets (13-7, 4-5) their fourth ACC road loss.
“It was a great atmosphere in there, and we needed it to beat Georgia Tech,” Krzyzewski said. “It was a continuation of how we finished the Wake Forest game. Instead of doing it in the second half, we came on in the first half and stayed strong the whole game.”
With just over nine minutes left to play Saturday, Shavlik Randolph grabbed a rebound off a missed Daniel Ewing jumper and was fouled by Isma’il Muhammad. Off the inbounds play, Sean Dockery received long-range pass, squared up and swished an open three. After a quick turnover by Muhammad, No. 4 Duke again had the momentum and a double-digit advantage.
“[The lead] was down to nine, and we were having problems with that exchange, so his bucket there was huge,” Krzyzewski said. “He called for the ball, and then he just shot it and knocked it down.”
Although Dockery’s three set Duke up for a 17-point victory, the Blue Devils shot 8-for-18 from behind the arc and maintained relentless defensive pressure in the first half, playing with energy from the start. Duke totalled 13 first-half defensive rebounds to Georgia Tech’s three offensive boards and forced eight Yellow Jacket turnovers. As a result, Duke took 39 shots while Georgia Tech put up only 27.
Redick, who scored 17 of his 26 points before halftime, went 5-for-11 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
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“I don’t think that he looked like he had any doubt in himself when he went up to shoot the ball,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt said. “It looked like he had just made the last five in a row when he went up, and he did other things to help them win.”
Redick had four defensive rebounds, three assists and four steals, and Krzyzewski said the junior got the team “started with a good verve” that Randolph and Shelden Williams maintained with their interior play. Duke’s “big three” of Williams, Redick and Ewing combined for 57 of the team’s 82 points.
In what Krzyzewski called his best game of the year, Randolph blocked five shots and grabbed nine rebounds in 19 minutes. All of Randolph’s blocks came in the second half when he and Williams prevented Georgia Tech from taking easy shots inside.
“We didn’t take it up strong in the first half, we didn’t play through contact,” Krzyzewski said. “I thought the second half we came from a stronger base.”
Inside aggressiveness and desperate late fouls by the Yellow Jackets led to 17 points on 21 Duke free throws in the second half.
“We definitely needed that type of performance,” DeMarcus Nelson said. “We needed to go out there and play with every single inch of pride and emotion for us. It wasn’t about Wake Forest and it isn’t about North Carolina. It was about Duke today.”
NOTES: Redick scored more than 20 points for the 15th time this season. Over the last seven games, he has averaged 26.9 ppg.... With 15 points and 12 rebounds, Williams recorded his 13th double-double on the year.... Freshman David McClure, who underwent knee surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee Feb. 1, will be out for 10 to 14 more days, Krzyzewski said Saturday.