Starting Five: No. 5 Duke (12-2) at Georgia Tech (7-7)

Jan. 6, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech jumps right into its 2012 ACC schedule, as it hosts three-time defending ACC Champion and No. 5 Duke at Philips Arena. Tip-off in both teams’ ACC opener is at noon.

The Yellow Jackets have lost three straight and are coming off their worst loss of the season, a 73-48 defeat at the hands of Alabama at Philips on Tuesday night. Kammeon Holsey had 14 points to lead the Jackets, who led early on but allowed 11-0 run, trailed by 18 at the half and by as much as 27. Tech hurt itself with 22 turnovers and shot only 33.3 percent from the foul line.

The Blue Devils are coming off a stunning 78-73 loss to Temple on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Miles Plumlee led Duke with 17 points on 8-for-17 shooting, while younger brother Mason had 16 points and 13 rebounds, including a game-high seven off the offensive glass. The Blue Devils were outscored 20-6 off the break and allowed Temple to shoot 56.4 percent in the loss.

Today’s game is the 88th meeting in a series that dates back to 1922. Duke leads the series 63-24, has won 11 of the last 13 road games in the series and is 25-16 all-time in Atlanta. The game can be seen on ESPNU, with Brad Nessler and Doris Burke calling the action. Of course, fans can listen to Wes Durham and Randy Waters on Georgia Tech/IMG Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). The game also can be heard via satellite radio, on Channel 112 on Sirius and 191 on XM. Tech fans can always follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.

Here now, the starting five for today’s game.

The Last Time We Met: A technical foul on Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski proved to be the turning point as Duke defeated Georgia Tech, 79-57, on Feb. 20, 2011 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Tech was clinging to a 14-13 lead, when a foul call on Duke’s Tyler Thornton so incensed Krzyzewski that his ensuing argument resulted in his being whistled for a T. Iman Shumpert hit the four free throws to give Tech an 18-13 lead but Duke took over from there, closing the half on a 24-10 run then outscoring the Jackets 42-29 in the second 20 minutes. Shumpert and Maurice Miller each had 13 for Tech, which shot only 33.3 percent for the game, 20.0 from three.

The Not-So-Friendly Confines: Philips Arena hasn’t exactly provided a home court advantage for Georgia Tech this year. The Jackets have dropped both games at Philips, to Northwestern, 76-60, and to Alabama. In the two games, the Jackets have been outshot, 54.5 to 41.7, 70.0 to 51.6 from three and have been outscored 74.5 to 54.0. Of the three games this season in which Tech has allowed opponents to score 70 points and shoot 50 percent, two of the three have come at Philips. Coming into the 2011-12 season, Tech had won four of seven games at Philips.

It’s In the Holsey: Kammeon Holsey seems to be enjoying Philips Arena just fine. In two games he’s shooting 66.7 percent, having hit seven of his nine field goal attempts. His shooting percentage doubled in the game against ‘Bama, as he was 7-for-9. The 7-for-9 day was his second such day of the season and matched his second-best day of ’11-12 — he was 9-for-10 against Delaware State. In the other game at Philips, Holsey only played 14 minutes and was 1-for-3.

We Like Philips, Too: While Holsey has been lights-out at Philips, he’s not Georgia Tech’s leading scorer there. That honor goes to Jason Morris, who is averaging 11.0 ppg in his two games. He’s shooting 40.0 (6-for-15) and 50.0 from three (2-for-4). Morris will look to bounce back from a rough night against Alabama, when he was 0-for-4, 0-for-1 from three. Morris had shot 47.6 percent over his previous two games (10-for-21). Mfon Udofia, who is averaging 10.0 ppg, also has shot well at Philips, hitting 8-of-18 shots (44.4) although he’s only 1-for-5 from three. Udofia, by the way, has hit at least one three in each of his last four games.

Turnover a New Leaf: Turnovers have been an issue in Tech’s recent difficulties. Over the last four games, the Jackets have committed 71 turnovers (17.8 per game), have lost the turnover battle in three of those games — one game was even — and are minus-23 in turnover margin. They’ve had two 22-turnover games. Prior to this stretch they had more than 20 turnovers once, Nov. 20 against LSU. In the five games following LSU, they were 2-3 in the turnover battle and were minus-two.

The Sixth Man: Julian Royal is making the most of his increased playing time. Over the last five games, the freshman is averaging 6.6 points in 18.6 minutes and has had his first two double-digit-scoring games, hitting for 10 against Alabama A&M and against Alabama, Royal, who is shooting 53.8 percent (14-for-26) on the year, 4-for-6 and 1-for-2 from the line against Alabama.

TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, 12.5 ppg
DUKE LEADING SCORER: Austin Rivers, 15.4 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Daniel Miller, 7.4 rpg
DUKE LEADING REBOUNDER: Mason Plumlee, 9.7 rpg.

TECH PPG: 63.8 ppg; OPP. PPG: 59.9 ppg.

DUKE PPG: 82.8 ppg; OPP. PPG: 68.4 ppg.

DUKE Player to Watch: Austin Rivers. The sensational freshman guard is stepping out of the shadow of his famous dad while proving the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Rivers is leading the Blue Devils in scoring, has led the team in scoring seven times (Duke is 6-1), in assists five times (the Blue Devils are 5-0), has hit for double-figures in 12 games and has three 20-point games, all team-bests. Rivers leads all ACC freshmen in scoring and is 11th in the nation among freshmen.

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