Duke proves too much for Jackets

DURHAM, N.C. -- To defeat fifth-ranked Duke, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said, his team had to defend the 3-point line.

The Yellow Jackets tried, but the Blue Devils, the ACC's top 3-point shooting team, hit six treys as they ran away with a 79-57 victory on Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Nolan Smith, the leading candidate for conference player of the year, hit four 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 28 points.

The Blue Devils scored 16 second-chance points in the first half, and 21 overall, mostly by outrebounding the Jackets 23-15 in the first half, including 10 on the offensive end. The rebounds led to tip-ins or kick-out 3-pointers.

"When you get second chances, it's tough to defend," Hewitt said.

The outcome left Tech with its 15th loss this season, and 15th consecutive on an opponent's court, a streak of futility that stretches to Jan. 16 last year. The loss also was Tech's sixth consecutive in ACC play, a head-scratching development considering the streak started right after the Jackets won three of four games by convincing margins.

The Jackets are 3-9 in the conference, with only Wake Forest (1-11) below them. A last-place finish would be the team's second in the past three seasons. It also guaranteed a losing season in the ACC for the fourth consecutive year and seventh time under Hewitt.

When Smith wasn't hitting 3s, he and the rest of Duke's guards where harassing Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice on defense. Shumpert, Tech's leading scorer, missed 12 of his 16 shots and scored 13 points before leaving with a sprained right index finger with less than six minutes remaining. The injury wasn't believed to be serious. Rice missed 10 of his 14 attempts and finished with 12 points. Tech shot 33.3 percent as a team, including 20 percent from the 3-point line.

Unlike the other losses during streak, Tech stayed in the game until the final minutes of the first half.

The Jackets grabbed a 9-4 lead four minutes into the game on the strength of a 3-pointer from Moe Miller and a 3-pointer and three-point play from Rice.

However, Rice, Tech's second-leading scorer, picked up his second foul on a silly mistake when he grabbed Nolan Smith's arm after Smith stole the ball with 15:23 left. Hewitt had to put Rice on the bench.

Tech caught a break when Smith picked up his second foul a few minutes later on a charge.

And then the game turned Duke's way, oddly after a technical foul was called on the Duke bench. Krzyzewski protested a call against one his players who tried to guard Shumpert; on the previous play, Smith was called for a foul on the offensive end for doing something similar to Shumpert, causing the coach's ire. .

Trailing 14-13 when the technical was called, Shumpert hit all four free throws. But the Jackets couldn't take further advantage, because Shumpert picked up his second foul while trying to steal the ball from Seth Curry with 8:59 left. Shumpert, too, was forced to sit.

With the Devils clinging to the slim lead, Hewitt put Shumpert and Rice back in with 6:03 left. Krzyzewski countered by bringing Smith back with 4:53 left, and Duke outscored the Jackets 11-4 to take a 37-28 lead at halftime.

The Duke barrage continued into the opening minutes of the second half. Singler hit a jumper, Curry found Mason Plumlee for a layup for a layup and Smith hit a 3-pointer in the corner to give the Blue Devils a 44-30 lead less than two minutes into the second half.

"He's a great player and having a great year," Hewitt said of Smith.

The lead grew to 22 on another Smith 3-pointer, followed by a layup from him with 13:15 remaining. The margin grew to 26 with less than 12 minutes remaining, far too much for Tech to overcome.

Tech will host Virginia on Wednesday night as it looks to snap the losing streak.

"We've got to figure it out, stay together and keep fighting," Miller said.