X-Factor: Continued output from Proctor can get Duke men's basketball back on track at Georgia Tech

<p>Tyrese Proctor gestures to his teammates at Virginia Tech on Jan. 23.</p>

Tyrese Proctor gestures to his teammates at Virginia Tech on Jan. 23.

Duke hits the road once more for a date with struggling Georgia Tech, hoping to get back in the win column. The Blue Zone is here with a player on both sides who can make a difference:

Duke: Tyrese Proctor

Freshman guard Tyrese Proctor has grown mightily this season. His introduction to college basketball was an ugly, 0-for-8 performance against Jacksonville. The next few games were not so great either, as he shot 24.5% from the field in his first seven games. However, the facilitator from Sydney slowly hit his stride at the end of November with a team-leading 16-point performance against Purdue. After junior captain Jeremy Roach went out with a reaggravated toe injury, the reins of the offense were thrust into Proctor’s hands. Proctor embraced the role, churning out stable offensive performances, which continued when Roach returned. Overall, Proctor now averages 8.6 points per game, with double-digit point efforts in his last four games. 

His maturity culminated in the last few moments of Duke’s recent loss to Virginia Tech. With 41 seconds to play, he caught an outlet from Kyle Flipowski and stroked a nothing-but-net, game-tying three from the right wing. With 5.5 seconds to go, Proctor found himself with a chance to win the game and hoisted another 3-pointer. Although the shot clanged off the front iron, Proctor’s desire to make an impact in the high-pressure moments is a valuable asset to the Blue Devils.

With ACC losses to Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech and scares against Boston College and Miami, the Blue Devils seem unable to keep significant advantages or maintain momentum. Although Proctor's 3-point shooting still lags at 26.2%, his creativity inside the arc drives his overall shooting percentage up to 34.6%. Combine that with his improved playmaking, including seven assists against Virginia Tech, and the Australia native finally clicking could be just what the Blue Devils need to awaken from their inconsistency.

Georgia Tech: Miles Kelly

Miles Kelly is the offensive catalyst for Georgia Tech. The sophomore guard averages a team-high 13.6 points per game on 39.3% shooting from the field and 36.2% from beyond the arc. Not only is Kelly long for a guard at 6-foot-6, but he is nearly automatic from the free-throw line, converting 86.8% of his free throws. Kelly had one of his better performances of the season when Georgia Tech upset Miami for its only ACC win of the season, scoring 20 points and converting all seven of his foul shots.

On the other hand, the former four-star recruit has been struggling over the last four games against ACC competition, shooting only 30.6% from the field. Against N.C. State at home, Kelly missed all six of his 3-point attempts and finished the game with nine points. Last Saturday in a 23-point loss to Syracuse, the Stone Mountain, Ga., native converted on only five of his 14 field goal attempts in 36 minutes of play. If Kelly continues his current run of form, Duke will find it much easier to shut down the Georgia Tech offense. However, if Kelly can rekindle his hot hand, he has the talent to score at will against Duke, which let Virginia Tech guards Sean Pedulla and Hunter Cattoor run riot with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Roach and Proctor will share this tough defensive assignment in order to help the Blue Devils get back on track.


Share and discuss “X-Factor: Continued output from Proctor can get Duke men's basketball back on track at Georgia Tech” on social media.