Tech’s basketball team was victimized by early foul trouble, and No. 10 Duke took advantage as the No. 21 Jackets dropped Thursday’s contest against the Blue Devils 86-67 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. With the loss, which was their first against a ranked opponent, Tech fell to 16-5 overall and 4-4 in ACC play.
It was the second meeting of the season between the teams. In the first match-up Tech upset then-No. 5 Duke 71-67 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 9, but the Jackets were unable to secure what would have been their second victory at Duke since 1996.
“I was sure we were ready. We spent more time preparing for them than we did for anybody this year, [but] obviously it didn’t do any good,” Head Coach Paul Hewitt said.
Forward Kyle Singler led the way for the Blue Devils. Singler scored 30 points and shot 8-for-10 from three-point range after hitting just two of 13 attempts from beyond the arc in Atlanta. Duke guards Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith added 21 and 14 points, and each of the three spent 37 or more minutes on the court.
Senior forward Zachery Peacock was the leading scorer for the Jackets; his 11 points were also the first 11 points of the game for Tech. Freshman guard Glen Rice Jr. added 10 points and four rebounds as the Jackets’ bench players scored 39 points, compared to 13 for Duke’s reserves.
The Jackets were forced to tap into their bench early and often, as both starting forwards—junior Gani Lawal and freshman Derrick Favors—got into foul trouble quickly. Lawal picked up his second foul just 33 seconds into the game, and Favors received his third foul with 13:04 left in the first half.
Tech led 17-14 at that point, but a 9-2 Duke run put the Blue Devils ahead 23-19. With Peacock and redshirt senior center Brad Sheehan seeing most of the frontcourt minutes for Tech, Duke out-rebounded the Jackets 27-15 in the opening half and gradually expanded its lead on the strength of free throws and three-pointers. A trey by Singler as time expired gave Duke a 45-33 lead going into halftime; it was the first double-digit lead of the game.
The game remained roughly even as the second half began, but a 10-2 Duke run gave the Blue Devils a 20-point lead at 63-43 with 11:30 to go. The Jackets never came within 18 points the rest of the way as Duke rolled to the victory.
“We felt like if we could have had it to single digits going into halftime, we thought our pressure was wearing them down, that we’d have a chance. But we didn’t do what we had to do…I’m very disappointed in our effort,” Hewitt said.
The Jackets will look to rebound on Saturday afternoon as they take on North Carolina State at home. Tip-off is at 4 p.m.