After each Duke men’s basketball game this season, check back here for the Player of the Game and more. The Blue Devils were defeated by Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon in a 68-72 loss, and the Blue Zone is here to break down the contest:
One player: Baye Ndongo
It was a career-defining day for the freshman forward, who led all scorers with 21 points in the Yellow Jackets’ win. The Mboro, Senegal, native kicked off a 12-0 run to start the game for the home team with a corner three and grabbed five defensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play. His 12 minutes on the court in the second half were even better, as he was perfect from the field with 11 points, complemented nicely by four blocks. The highlight for Ndongo, and Georgia Tech, came when the freshman caught a wide open pass in the corner and sent Duke’s Kyle Filipowski flying with a pump fake before driving in and slamming down an emphatic dunk to put the Yellow Jackets up by five with just under seven minutes left in the contest. He injured himself on his landing, however, and sat out the next few minutes. Ndongo returned to close out the game and capped off a tremendous performance with his fourth block with three seconds remaining to put an exclamation point on the upset win for Georgia Tech.
One word: Uninspired
Maybe it was seeing sophomore guard and leader Tyrese Proctor leave the game just one minute after the opening tip with a left ankle injury, but right from the jump, Duke struggled. Even after a close but unfortunate showing at Arkansas, the Blue Devils shattered all expectations of getting back to their winning ways Saturday. A lack of movement on offense persisted and at times aggravated head coach Jon Scheyer, who dropped to 4-8 on the road in his time at the helm. With so much talent, there was little team play, and outside of senior guard Jeremy Roach, too little energy. Duke was even leading the matchup 66-62 with just over two minutes left, but a Mark Mitchell technical foul and several baskets by the Yellow Jackets quickly dissipated that advantage. Going into the season, no one suspected chemistry problems would plague this team, but Saturday’s unpolished performance left plenty of questions unanswered for the Blue Devils.
One stat: 4-16 from three
Georgia Tech came into this game shooting 29.8% from three, but opening the contest 4-of-5 from behind the arc helped it jump out to a 12-2 lead. While the Yellow Jackets’ hot hands cooled in the second half, Duke was unable to do anything from deep to pull itself into the game. TJ Power looked to provide a spark as he knocked down a triple upon his entrance in the second half, but it failed to start an actual Blue Devil run. One of the biggest standouts was Jared McCain, who went 0-for-3 from behind the arc and just 3-for-10 from the field, his worst performance since the win against Michigan State. Duke has to fix its shooting on all levels, though, as 41.9% on field goals and 60% from the free throw line will not yield results against future competition.
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