BUZZING: Proctor, Filipowski, No. 11 Duke men's basketball squash Georgia Tech in back-and-forth blockbuster

Forty-two days prior, the seemingly unthinkable happened after 40 minutes of play inside McCamish Pavilion — Duke left shell shocked from a 72-68 defeat at the hands of Georgia Tech. Saturday evening, it got its opportunity to exact revenge. After a rollercoaster game of basketball, the Blue Devils came out on top.

On Saturday evening, No. 11 Duke earned a close 84-79 victory against the Yellow Jackets, avenging its December heartbreaker. Sophomore center Kyle Filipowski led the way for the Blue Devils with 30 points, while guards Tyrese Proctor and Jeremy Roach put up 17 and 18 points, respectively. Georgia Tech was powered by the triumvirate of Naithan George, Baye Ndongo and Miles Kelly, who amassed 49 points. With the win, Duke remains undefeated in 2024 and moves to 4-1 in conference play. 

"I thought that was a gutsy win," said head coach Jon Scheyer. "To be able to fight through adversity...for us to beat them under these circumstances and the way they're playing...very proud of our team."

With revenge on the line and a tie on the scoreboard, Duke (13-3, 4-1 in the ACC) needed to shake off its shooting woes and shut down Georgia Tech. Yet coming out of the locker room, the Blue Devils still struggled to regain the magic of the opening minutes of the contest. Despite opening the half with a layup, Filipowski was blocked by Tafara Gapare on the next possession while the rest of the team struggled to score. The Yellow Jackets (8-8, 1-4), on the other hand, were white-hot. Shutting down Duke defensively, their offense made the most of the opportunity with an 8-0 scoring run, highlighted by a Gapare jumper on the fast break to put Georgia Tech up 47-41. 

After a Blue Devil timeout, freshman guard Jared McCain stanched Duke’s bleeding, driving into the paint for the layup. The Yellow Jackets responded in kind, as Baye Ndongo made back-to-back-to-back jumpers to keep his team securely in front with a 12-2 run. It was then that the Blue Devils got fired up. Filipowski got back in the groove and drained a three before junior guard Jaylen Blakes came up with a monumental block against Kelly. Roach went to the other end and did his part, making the layup and free throw for the and-one to pull Duke within five. 

As Cameron Indoor Stadium roared and the fans went wild, Filipowski once again became the hero of the moment, earning a steal before flawlessly evading his defenders for the fast-break layup. And just like that, the Blue Devils were within striking distance. The AP Preseason All-American could not be stopped once more, making a wide-open triple. Duke finally got its moment to reclaim the lead shortly after. Roach went up for the layup and was blocked by Kowacie Reeves, but graduate center Ryan Young was ready for the rebound, which he put back to give the Blue Devils a 56-55 advantage. 

"[Ryan] came in and provided exactly what we know he's capable of, against a really good paint team as well," said Filipowski.

Georgia Tech, however, was still dialed in. Two free throws from Tyzhaun Claude and a jumper from Kelly allowed the team to reclaim a three-point lead. Roach responded to the brief Yellow Jacket run with a steal and fast-break layup in an epic display of Duke’s grit. Young got to the rim again as well for a layup of his own. Proctor got in on the action less than a minute later, draining a three to bring the Blue Devils within one at 64-63. Filipowski did his part on the other end, coming up with a block against Claude and making yet another triple. 

There was still some Duke magic left with less than three minutes to go as Filipowski went to the rim. Muscling his way to a layup, the sophomore matched his career high of 29 points, a total he amassed Virginia Tech nearly a year ago. Less than a minute later, the Wilbraham and Monson product found himself at the free-throw line, where he converted one of his opportunities to start building his new record.

"I've been flirting with 30 points for a little bit. So I think I finally just said enough's enough," said Filipowski.

"I thought Flip just had a big time game. [He] didn't shoot the best percentage...from two, but he's competing like crazy," added Scheyer.

With sophomore forward Mark Mitchell absent with a knee injury, the Blue Devils saw action from behind the arc early, in large part due to Duke’s four-guard setup. Filipowski was the first to drain a three, but his long-range heroics were quickly overshadowed by an emphatic dunk by George on the other end of the floor on the head of Young. To silence the roar of the visiting fans, Duke’s offense found a lethal touch, as Roach and Caleb Foster each drained a three to extend the Blue Devils’ lead to 21-15.

Even as Duke showed off its offensive firepower, the visiting team fought back. With 10:41 left in the first half, guard Kyle Sturdivant drained a three to disrupt the Blue Devils’ long-range momentum and 6-0 scoring run. Ndongo and Gapare helped him chip away at Duke’s ever-widening lead with a layup and 3-point jumper, respectively. Georgia Tech continued to climb back into the game as junior guard Kelly made a three with 6:51 remaining, followed by a jumper from George to pull the visitors within one. 

The Yellow Jackets tied up the contest with just over five minutes left to play in the first half off a three from Kelly as Duke struggled to regain its offensive composure, failing to score a single field goal in more than seven minutes. Georgia Tech retook the lead with 3:07 remaining after Dallan Coleman drained one from behind the arc, extending his team’s run to 17-4. 

"Georgia Tech was rolling. I think they're one of the most talented teams in our league," said Scheyer.

Roach managed to regain an edge for the Blue Devils with two made free throws for a 36-35 lead before McCain snapped Duke’s field-goal doldrums with a jumper. Coleman dampened the Cameron Crazies’ spirits, however, with a jumper of his own. It was once again Roach who saved the day with a made free throw to send the Blue Devils into the locker room with a 39-39 tie, but Duke was by no means in the clear after making one of its last 13 attempts heading into halftime. 

After the victory, the Blue Devils will get a week of recovery before taking on Pittsburgh at home for the second time in January next Saturday at 8 p.m.

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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