At the turn of December, Duke men’s basketball is opening ACC play, taking a trip to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. Before the game tips off Saturday, the Blue Zone brings a key player on each squad that could make a difference:
Duke: Tyrese Proctor
In an unusually sloppy showing in a loss against Arkansas, sophomore point guard Tyrese Proctor struggled with his shot, shooting just 25% from the field and 16.7% from beyond the arc. This is not to say that he hasn’t had good shooting games — he recently scored 22 points against La Salle on a highly efficient 63.6% from the field. However, if there’s one thing the Blue Devils need from Proctor against the Yellow Jackets Saturday, it’s his 3-point shooting. Duke has also had its own recent struggles from 3-point range. The Blue Devils have shot for a combined 11-for-40 from deep over the last two games — far below last season’s total average of 33.5% from beyond the arc.
This is especially true when considering just how vulnerable Georgia Tech’s defense has been against the 3-point shot. In their 35-point loss against Cincinnati Nov. 22, the Yellow Jackets were only trailing by eight points after the first half. Subsequently, the lead increased to over 30 points in ten minutes of playing time during the second half after Cincinnati scored five consecutive 3-point baskets as part of a 49-22 second-half run.
Moreover, alongside senior guard Jeremy Roach and sophomore center Kyle Filipowski, Proctor is one of the best offensive weapons Duke has. This means that his poor offensive performances put even more pressure on freshman guards Caleb Foster and Jared McCain to score. As freshmen who are still in the process of adapting to collegiate-level basketball, such a task can sometimes be too much. Foster only scored two points on 0-of-2 shooting from beyond the arc while McCain scored five points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field in the loss against the Razorbacks.
As the Blue Devils look to bounce back from a tough loss against Arkansas, it will be key for Proctor shoot efficiently from beyond the arc and have a stronger offensive performance.
Georgia Tech: Dallan Coleman
So far, the Yellow Jackets and first-year head coach Damon Stoudamire have had a season full of ups and downs. Contrary to Duke, Georgia Tech is coming off a victory, taking down No. 21 Mississippi State at home. Both junior guards Miles Kelly and Kowacie Reeves Jr. have been outstanding for the Yellow Jackets, top three on the team with 19.4 and 10.8 points per game, respectively.
Nonetheless, it's been returning junior Dallan Coleman’s 3-point shooting that has been crucial for Georgia Tech so far. The Memphis, Tenn., native is currently shooting 44% from beyond the arc this season and has had quite notable performances. Among these are a 24-point performance on 5-of-9 shooting from deep against UMass Lowell and a 17-point performance on 8-of-12 shooting against Georgia Southern.
So far this season, it’s been Coleman whom the Yellow Jackets turn to when either Kelly or Reeves struggles offensively. If Coleman is able to get hot from beyond the arc early in the game and penetrate the Blue Devils’ defense, Georgia Tech’s other guards could get higher-percentage shots. Considering that Arkansas was able to beat Duke behind Trevon Brazile and Khalif Battle’s incredible offensive performances, if Coleman and either Kelly or Reeves are able to shoot efficiently then the Yellow Jackets will have a fighting chance against the Blue Devils.
It will be up to Duke’s defense to keep Coleman from getting on a shooting streak and playing a significant role in the game. Georgia Tech will be eager to beat its second-straight ranked opponent and Coleman looks to have an influential role in the win.
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