Basketball trumps No. 5 Duke, falls to Virginia

Then-No. 17 Tech topped then-No. 5 Duke on Sunday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum (AMC), 71-67. It was the second straight home win against Duke after the Jackets beat the Blue Devils in 2007, 74-63.

Junior forward Gani Lawal led all Tech scorers with 21 points on eight-of-nine shooting in just 23 minutes of play.

“Gani has been a great leader for our guys. He does a lot behind the scenes with these guys to get them pumped up,” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.

Sophomore guard Iman Shumpert struggled in his first home game after missing six games due to injury. He was one-of-nine from the field with seven turnovers. The guard finished with eight points. He played 34 minutes.

To couple with his offensive struggles, Shumpert had to guard Duke shooting guard Jon Scheyer. Scheyer continued his streak of high-scoring games and was one of two Duke scorers with double-digit points, finishing with 25 points.

Freshman forward Derrick Favors had his second lowest season output in the nationally televised game, scoring seven points-all in the second half. He also had four turnovers.

“He’s never been challenged physically like this. He’s going to be a great player down the road, he’s a very good player now,” Hewitt said.

Duke jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the first half, but Tech rallied back in what turned out to be a close half with six lead changes. Still, Duke went into the locker room with a six-point lead. Despite having arguably a decided size advantage, Tech was outrebounded in the first half 21-16.

The second half had the roles reversed. The Jackets outrebounded the Blue Devils 22-11. Tech rallied to tie the game at 60 with about two minutes left in the game and went on a 9-4 run to seal the victory.

“The whole game we talked about playing with energy and effort…it was just simple adjustments [at half-time],” Hewitt said.

Despite two of Tech’s top players not performing well offensively, the team was able to hold Duke to one of its worst shooting games of the season.

The Blue Devils shot six-of-28 from the three-point line and only had nine points of production from All-American forward Kyle Singler. Singler was held to nine points on two-of-13 shooting. He also had four turnovers.

“He’s a great player…I just think he had an off-day,” Hewitt said.

The win was Tech’s first win against a ranked opponent of the season. Tech has now beaten a top-5 team at home two years in a row. Last year, they defeated No. 4 Wake Forest late in the season, 76-74.

“It’s a great confidence boost to get a win like this. This team has a high ceiling,” Hewitt said.

No. 18 Tech failed to build on the win, dropping its opening ACC road game in a loss to UVA, 82-75. The loss drops Tech’s record to 12-4 and 1-2 in conference play.

Shumpert scored 15 points and had six assists in his fourth game coming back from his injury. Senior Zach Peacock led Tech in scoring, finishing with 19 points off the bench on eight-for-12 shooting.

Lawal, after being named ACC player of the week, was held to 12 points after averaging nearly 24 points in the last three games. After hitting at least 50 percent of his free throw shot attempts in every previous game of the season, he was two-of-six from the line.

The game was back and forth for much of the first half, with nine lead changes and no lead larger than six points. Favors scored 10 of his 12 total points in the first half and scored the last basket to give Tech a 39-38 lead at the break. Favors also had 11 rebounds, giving him his sixth double-double of the season.

The game was close for much of the second of half until Virginia used a 16-4 run to take a lead that Tech would not threaten for the rest of the game.

Tech committed several mistakes that allowed Virginia to take the double-digit lead. With the Jackets leading 59-56 with less than nine minutes left in the game, Tech would only make two baskets over the next seven and a half minutes, miss nine shots, attempt just one free throw and sent Virginia to the line for eight free throws, all made.

While Tech shot over 50 percent from the field and had more blocks, Virginia was 23-of-26 from the free throw line. The Jackets only went to the free throw line 11 times and made just three of the attempts.

The Jackets will continue their road trip as they travel to North Carolina tomorrow.

Tech last beat UNC in 2007 and has not beaten the Tar Heels at their home stadium since 1996. They beat the Tar Heels on a neutral site in 2005 in the ACC tournament.