Georgia Tech comes up short at No. 11 Duke

DURHAM, N.C. — Georgia Tech played about as well as it could Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but No. 11 Duke made enough plays down the stretch to avoid an upset and a second consecutive loss to the Yellow Jackets.

Tech, who defeated Duke on Dec. 2 at McCamish Pavilion, led 69-66 with less than seven minutes to go. The Blue Devils, however, prevailed by riding the play of big man Kyle Filipowski, who finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in an 84-79 victory.

The Jackets (8-8, 1-4 ACC) shot 54%, made 11 3-pointers, won the rebounding battle and had 17 assists. Duke made up for those discrepancies with 20 free throws and 15 second-chance points and, certainly, got a boost down the stretch from the 9,314 rabid fans in attendance.

“This is like a dream, really, playing in this atmosphere. It was really fun, all the noise,” Tech’s Naithan George said. “But we didn’t let it get to us, which is really good, so that really shows our growth.”

George had a team-high 17 points to go with five assists. Miles Kelly was impressive as well, with 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists before fouling out, and Baye Ndongo chipped in 16 points and five boards.

The setback was the fifth consecutive for Tech (and 13th consecutive at Duke) and fourth in a row in league play. It will look to break its skid at 9 p.m. Tuesday when it heads to Clemson (12-4, 2-3 ACC).

“I’m not wavering in my program. I’ve seen too much,” Tech first-year coach Damon Stoudamire said. “We’re not gonna go the other way. We have a saying, when we get on the line, we not going the other way. We have a belief because they have a belief in me and I have a belief in them. I think you can see it by how hard they play out there on the court.”

Tech trailed 76-69 with 4:36 to play but would not go quietly into the night. A George 3 had the Jackets within 76-74 a little more than a minute later. George’s three-point play at the 2:36 mark made it a 78-77 contest.

That would be as close as the Jackets would get. Ryan Young’s layup made it an 81-77 game and two Tyrese Proctor free throws with 22 seconds to go put the game out of reach.

“From my perspective I think Duke is one of the best teams in the country,” Stoudamire said. “At times, a lot of things have to do with matchups, and I think we match up with them well. We’ve shot the ball well against them two games.

“We made our runs, Duke came back, our guys held their composure. I was proud of my team. But Duke made a lot of plays down the stretch. Ultimately the game comes down to making shots, and they made the plays down the stretch.”

Duke (13-3, 4-1 ACC)) extended an early lead Saturday in the first half to 24-15 on the strength of a Roach 3 from the left corner nine minutes into the game. That margin was built to 28-18 after a Tyrese Proctor layup from the right block with 9:20 on the clock.

The Jackets responded with a 13-3 run. Kelly made two 3′s during the surge, the latter of which came from the left wing after a step-back move and tied the game at 31-31. Deebo Coleman got in on the long-distance fun with a triple from the right wing, Tech’s eight of the half, putting the visitors ahead 35-32.

While Tech was raining 3′s, Duke went 7:22 without a made field goal. But the Blue Devils made their hay from the line scoring eight straight from the line at one point. Duke finished the half 13-of-19 from the charity stripe, while the Jackets only mustered four free-throw attempts.

George missed a shot at the halftime buzzer leaving the score at 39-39 going into the break. Tech shot 51.7% as a team, had nine assists on 15 field goals and held the Blue Devils to 35.5% shooting.

“We did some really good things. When we get stops and we run we’re a fun team to watch,” Stoudamire said. “We got a lot of athleticism, and it ignites us. As we continue to build this thing I think that that’s gonna be, for me, the model as we move forward.”

Duke took a brief two-point lead to start the second half, but then Tech scored eight straight, a run that was punctuated by Kowacie Reeves lobbing a fastbreak alley-oop for Tafare Gapare making the score 47-41. Two straight easy one-handed shots in the lane from Ndongo minutes later pushed Tech’s lead to 53-43, its largest of the evening at that point.

The Blue Devils immediately punched back with eight straight points of their own to get within 53-51. A Filipkowski 3, following a Tech jumper, and a Young putback put Duke back on top 56-55 with 12:16 to play.

The Jackets, however, continued to play aggressive and fearless as the minutes melted away. A Kelly lay-up kept Tech up 64-60, George’s step-back 3 from the top of the key made it 67-63 and another Kelly floater with 7:15 on the clock made the score 69-66.

Once again Duke got off the mat with a 10-0 run to regain control for good and take a lead it never lost.

Roach had 18 points for Duke and Proctor added 17. Young added 10 to go with nine rebounds.