Duke took the game against Tech, winning 70 – 56 Wesnesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The game improved No. 2 Blue Devils’ record to 15-1, 3-0 in conference play. The loss dropped the Jackets’ to 9-7 on the season, 0-3 in the ACC.
Only junior forward Zachery Peacock hit double figures in points, scoring 13. Sophomore forward Gani Lawal led all players in the game with 17 rebounds, but scored just six points. The team combined for 13 total assists.
“When I got the ball down low, [they put] a lot of bodies, a lot of pressure,” Lawal said.
Tech built a lead early, taking an eight point lead in the middle of the first half, 23-15. Duke then went on a 16 – 5 run to take the lead going into half time. It was a lead they would not give up.
“We turned the ball over a little bit and we let them get some offensive rebounds. We let it slip away,” said junior shooting guard Lewis Clinch.
Clinch had eight points and four assists in 32 minutes. The return of sophomore point guard Moe Miller saw him shoot three-of-eight from the field and finish with nine points and four assists.
The three guards each played 20 or more minutes and had at least eight points. Unfortunately, they had trouble with ball control, combining for 10 assists to 11 turnovers.
Duke’s first half offense missed most of their outside shots, hitting just three-of-14 three’s and finishing the first half with 12-of-36 shooting. They also made just four-of-seven free throws during the first 20 minutes.
Tech’s offense came out with a hot start, but slowed towards the end of the half. They finished the half with 12-of-29 shooting, but struggled with free throws. They went three-of-eight, missing several of the first shots of the one-and-one opportunities.
Lawal in particular continued his free shooting woes, going two-for-eight at the line.
“Just gotta keep working on [those free throws] … I want to make them all,” Lawal said.
The Jackets also struggled to hold on to the ball, committing 10 turnovers to Duke’s four before the intermission.
“Two things that have bothered us are the free shooting and the turnovers. We should be taking care of the ball better … and the free throws will come,” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.
Tech improved in the second half, but finished with 18 turnovers, double that of Duke’s total.
When the teams came out for the second half, the game continued to have very low scoring. With a little under eight minutes remaining, the score was 46-41. Duke then closed the game out with a 24-15 run. Tech faced a 15 point deficit with just over 2 minutes remaining.
The Jackets held the lead to within reach until late in the second half, when the Blue Devils took a 12 point lead. Tech never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“I think we’re playing some pretty good basketball, but a turnover here, a missed free throw there, you lose the chance to really put some distance on some people.”
While Duke made just two more baskets than Tech, they made nine more free throws than Tech. Both teams finished below 60 percent from the line, but Tech finished seven-for-19. Four of the six players who attempted free throws finished below the 50 percent mark.
Sophomore forward Kyle Sungler and junior Gerald Henderson led the Blue Devils in scoring with 19 point a piece. Sinler was also able to pick up the double-double by leading Duke with 14 rebounds.
Tech now travels to N.C. State in an ACC matchup between two of the teams which have struggled in conference play. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. tomorrow in Raleigh, N.C. On Tuesday the Jackets return home to face Boston College.
“Focus on N.C. State…. We had our chances [for this game], we didn’t take advantage of them,” Hewitt said.
Arguably the largest ovation of the night came when recent verbal commit Derrick Favors stepped into the crowd after announcing his intention for playing for the Jackets next year earlier in the evening. The Atlanta native is ranked as one of the top 5 players in the nation.