5 observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Georgia Tech

Jeremy Roach passes to the outside during Duke's big first half at Georgia Tech.
Jeremy Roach passes to the outside during Duke's big first half at Georgia Tech.

ATLANTA—Looking to claim its second road win of the season, Duke got off to a hot start Saturday afternoon at Georgia Tech. With one half down and one half to go, the Blue Devils are in control 43-25.

Lively is back

Star freshman forward Dariq Whitehead was ruled out against Georgia Tech due to a left leg injury he suffered during Monday’s road loss to Virginia Tech. Dereck Lively II started the game in Whitehead’s place, marking the freshman center’s first starting appearance since Duke’s Jan. 4 loss to N.C. State

Lively got on the board with his first career three and made a difference early with four offensive rebounds that fueled second-chance scoring opportunities for Duke. He had five points in 13 minutes during the half, taking a break about halfway through to bring in graduate center Ryan Young. Despite a strong start, Lively didn’t score after the first 4:34 of play, due in part to a couple of blocked layups and some time on the bench as he traded minutes with Young.

From the start

The first few minutes of the half were dominated by the Blue Devils, and 12 of their first 16 points were from threes. Junior point guard Jeremy Roach nailed two threes within the first two minutes, and Kyle Filipowski contributed early with a block and two points from the charity stripe. Though Georgia Tech cut Duke’s lead to 10-7 with a three from sophomore guard Dallan Coleman, Lively responded with a three of his own to take some momentum from the Yellow Jackets, followed by one from Filipowski to force a Georgia Tech timeout. After Roach’s three in the first minute, Duke led the Yellow Jackets for the rest of the half; Georgia Tech never got within three points of the visitors for the entire 20 minutes.

Bursts of momentum

On top of hitting early shots, Duke was consistent on defense throughout the opening 20 minutes; Georgia Tech didn’t reach double-digit points until almost nine minutes into the half on a fast-break layup. It seemed like the defensive dominance from the Blue Devils would continue after a steal by sophomore guard Jaylen Blakes, who was fouled by Georgia Tech’s Kyle Sturdivant on the play. The next few plays, though, were where the Yellow Jackets picked up a little bit of energy with two big blocks in a row and a foul from Duke.

After the Duke timeout, the back-and-forth momentum continued. The Blue Devils came out with a strong defensive possession and some made free throws but Georgia Tech quickly responded with two back-to-back threes, cutting Duke’s lead to 22-16. A long stretch of smooth sailing from Duke was again threatened with about four minutes to go in the half with some jumpers from Yellow Jacket guard Deivon Smith, but back-to-back defensive stops and a late emergence from Young inside carried Duke to a solid 18-point lead to conclude the half.

Schutt makes an appearance

Freshman guard Jaden Schutt checked into the contest with 9:26 left on the clock, marking his first appearance since he played eight minutes against N.C. State. Schutt entered averaging 2.4 points and 1.3 rebounds per game on 50% 3-point shooting. He missed his two shooting attempts, both corner threes, but the second was recovered by Lively and dished to freshman Tyrese Proctor, who sunk the subsequent three to push Duke’s lead to 11 points. Schutt was replaced by Roach after about four minutes and did not return.

Player of the half: Jeremy Roach

Duke’s scoring was well-distributed throughout the half, and while there was not one player who saved the day for the Blue Devil, Roach’s two early threes were vital to Duke’s offensive momentum and building an early lead that helped his team avoid losing control of the game when Georgia Tech found its hot streaks. His six points were the second most of any Duke player—he tied Young and trailed Filipowski, who had 14—as he shot 2-for-5 from the field, not scoring after his first two treys. Roach also had two rebounds but committed one turnover on one of the first possessions. He worked quietly from the top of the key on offense, finding Filipowski and Young inside so the two centers could work off each other and find chances as the half wrapped up. 

Leah Boyd profile
Leah Boyd

Leah Boyd is a Pratt senior and a social chair of The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 117.


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