ATLANTA—Despite sitting nearly 400 miles away from Durham, McCamish Pavilion was loaded with Duke blue. The Blue Devils responded accordingly, rolling the Yellow Jackets on their opponent’s home court.
Duke returned to the win column Saturday afternoon by trouncing Georgia Tech 86-43. More importantly, the Blue Devils secured their second win on the road during a season in which they have struggled mightily away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. The team fielded five double-digit scorers, finished the night with a season-high 24 assists on 34 field goals and out-rebounded Georgia Tech 43-22.
"I'm really proud of our team and our effort ... I thought it was probably the best collectively on defense that we've played. And then, on the offensive end, [we] shared the ball to get 24 assists," head coach Jon Scheyer said after the game. "To hold them to 43 [points] and then have 24 assists, [I'm] really proud of this group, how we've responded, especially when we face adversity."
By the end of the first half, Duke (15-6, 6-4 in the ACC) led 43-25 and had seemingly put the game out of reach, and an unenergized return to the court for the Yellow Jackets (8-13, 1-10) in the second half allowed Duke to put the game away early. Within five minutes of returning from the break, the Blue Devils had opened a 24-point lead behind an all-around strong team effort.
Duke opened both periods quickly on the offensive end. The Blue Devils dropped 16 points in just more than five minutes to start the first half, and the squad opened the second period on a 19-3 run that was nothing less than dominant.
"When that ball is popping, everyone is touching it and everyone feels like they're in the game and everybody feels like they can make a shot ... It's fun playing like that and when you're making shots and winning like this, it's very fun," junior captain Jeremy Roach said.
As a group, Duke was dominant on both ends of the floor. On the offensive side, the Blue Devils had an effective shooting day, nailing 34-of-61 shot attempts, including nine 3-pointers, while collecting 24 assists. Georgia Tech struggled mightily to shoot the ball, hitting just 31% of its attempts. This was in large part due to the quick switching and disciplined approach of head coach Jon Scheyer’s squad on the defensive end.
The team’s rebounding, however, was a signal of its efforts. As a group, the Blue Devils grabbed 43 total boards, including 13 on the offensive end. The defensive performance was an excellent rebound from the team’s last game, in which they fell 78-75 on the road at a struggling Virginia Tech team.
Kyle Filipowski was once again dominant. His 18 points led all scorers and he went 6-of-9 from the field for one of his most efficient shooting nights all season. The star freshman has been a leader on offense all season long but certainly had help tonight as seven Blue Devils scored at least seven points.
Filipowski and graduate center Ryan Young utilized smooth passing on several plays to navigate through the interior of the Georgia Tech defense and get an open shot. As a whole, the Blue Devils displayed some excellent ball movement. The Yellow Jackets switched in and out of zone defense several times, but no matter the coverage, Duke was able to dissect and find the open man.
"[We] wanted to have the big men set the tone. [Georgia Tech is] smaller on the inside, so we wanted to get them going early and I think we did," Roach said. "Towards the end of the first, they really got going and we kind of brought the lead up to 18. So it helped us a lot."
Dereck Lively II also quietly had a dominant performance. Aside from hitting his first 3-pointer of the season, the 7-foot-1 big man grabbed six offensive rebounds (10 total) and added nine points. The improvement from him on that end of the floor coincided perfectly with his strong performance on the defensive end. Overall, it was a complete game for the No. 3 overall recruit.
"For Dereck, we just feel like it's a time where it's like he's on a launching pad right now, and he's got a chance to take and today was really the start of it," Scheyer said.
With Dariq Whitehead out with a leg injury suffered Monday against Virginia Tech, Tyrese Proctor was able to step up nicely into his place. The freshman notched seven points on 50% shooting with eight assists and zero turnovers in 27 minutes.
"Talk about getting better, Tyrese from the start of the season to now has just grown tremendously. And we're at our best when Tyrese is doing this," Scheyer said.
As the game got out of hand in the second half, players such as Proctor, Grandison and freshman Jaden Schutt had a chance to get solid minutes. Grandison posted 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting to compliment Proctor’s high assist tally, while Schutt played a season-high 12 minutes.
This win kicks off an important stretch of five games for Duke featuring Wake Forest, North Carolina, No. 20 Miami and No. 10 Virginia. The Blue Devils return to Cameron Indoor to play Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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