After each Duke men's basketball game, the Blue Zone provides you with our breakdown of the matchup with one word, one stat and one player. Read about the most recent loss to Georgia Tech:
One word: Devastating
Entering this game, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said that the winner would be in the March tourney, and the loser would be out. There was certainly no lack of moments for Duke to capitalize on this opportunity, but ultimately, they failed to do so.
The first half of the game was a fairly even contest with Wendell Moore Jr. and Matthew Hurt carrying the scoring load for the Blue Devils. However, turnovers and foul-trouble proved to be the turning point in the second half. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team committed a crucial 14 turnovers, which were often the result of wild drives to the basket and mid-air indecisiveness. Another damaging blow came with 6:14 left in the game, when leading scorer and potential ACC player of the year Matthew Hurt fouled out after a questionable call.
Mark Williams and Joey Baker were unlikely bright spots towards the end of this game. Though his poor free throw shooting was costly, Williams finished the game with 20 points on a perfect 9-9 shooting from the field. The game was pushed to overtime after an 8-0 run by the Blue Devils, featuring six points from Baker. In those extra minutes, Duke truly missed the presence of a shot-maker like Hurt as they struggled to create offensive opportunities. They had a chance to send the game to double overtime, but DJ Steward failed to connect from three, ultimately ending the game. This loss could very well prove to be the game that costs Duke the opportunity to play in March Madness. A devastating outcome to a hard-fought game.
One stat: Eight offensive rebounds for Moses Wright
On their senior night, forward Moses Wright and guard Jose Alvarado entered the game as the first and second leading scorers for Georgia Tech, respectively. While the perimeter defense of Duke was able to hold Alvarado scoreless in the first half, Wright presented issues from the opening tip. He kept the Yellow Jackets in the game in the first half, scoring 11 points and connecting on a momentum shifting three pointer to beat the first half buzzer. In order for the Blue Devils to regain control, they could not afford to let Wright continue his efficient scoring. Unfortunately, he only became more dominant in the second half.
In 43 minutes of action, the Raleigh, N.C. native finished the game with 29 points and 14 rebounds, 8 of which were offensive rebounds. The man named Moses was able to lead his team to the “promised land” through a seemingly countless number of dunks and second-chance opportunities. Despite only being 6-foot-9, Wright was a dominating interior presence whose athleticism gave him an advantage in every matchup. He was the key to Georgia Tech ending their 14-game losing streak to Duke.
One player: Wendell Moore Jr.
As has been the case multiple times this season, Moore got off to a hot start in the beginning of the game. He and Hurt combined to score 19 of Duke’s first 25 points, a span where Moore was connecting from the perimeter and finishing in transition. Throughout the season, the talent that the sophomore guard possesses has shown through in spots. He is capable of hitting the mid-range, stepping out to the three point line, applying full-court pressure, finishing around the basket and even initiating offense. However, Moore’s lack of consistency has hurt him and his team this season. Tuesday’s game was no exception.
Despite the encouraging first half that he played, as the game became closer and Georgia Tech made their run, Moore was unable to produce. Matthew Hurt fouling out certainly did not help, as the Blue Devils ran a lot of isolation plays for Moore on the wing. The sophomore forward was being put in a position to initiate most of the offense for his team, but since he had already lost his rhythm, he began to force opportunities and had little impact on the end of the game. He finished with a respectable line of 20 points and eight rebounds, but considering his decrease in efficiency when it mattered most, Moore’s performance was disappointing.
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