Jan. 4, 2017
By Andy Demetra, Georgia Tech Radio
Beginning today with Georgia Tech’s second Atlantic Coast Conference basketball game at No. 8 Duke, the Yellow Jackets’ radio voice Andy Demetra will offer a handful of news, notes and analysis from his preparation for the radio broadcast.
1. Duke’s Cameroon Indoor Stadium provides one of the more daunting road court environments in all of college basketball. Since 2009-10, the Blue Devils have won 94.4 percent of their games there (117-7), good for the third-highest winning percentage in the nation over that span. The good news for Tech: earlier this year they knocked off VCU, which ranks ninth in the nation in that category (88.2 percent).
2. Duke has the No. 1-ranked freshman class in the nation according to many recruiting services. Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie now has as many ACC Rookie of the Week awards as its entire freshman class combined (2). Injuries, of course, have robbed the Blue Devils’ freshmen of their potency. Okogie will likely be matched up against Blue Devils senior Matt Jones, a stalwart perimeter defender who does a good job denying driving lanes.
3. At first glance, Kellen McCormick’s stat line against North Carolina looked modest: 9 minutes, 0 points, 0-0 FG, 1 rebound, 0 assists. But on his radio show Monday, Josh Pastner praised McCormick’s ability to keep the floor spaced with his three-point shooting threat, giving Tech the angles it needed for its dribble-drives. Despite that zero-filled stat line, McCormick still had a +2 plus-minus against the Tar Heels, meaning Georgia Tech outscored UNC by two points when he was on the floor.
4. Teams can’t afford to wait when springing an upset on the road. Could the Blue Devils give Tech that opportunity? In its last three games, Duke has shot 33.7 percent from the field in the first half (33 of 98). Jones might typify the Blue Devils’ struggles: the DeSoto, Texas, native shot 41 percent from three-point range last year, but has only made 2 of his last 18. Unlocking a couple of threes from him early could be a confidence-builder for the Blue Devils. Can the Jackets’ switching defenses cause similar distress as it did against UNC, when the Tar Heels shot 5 of 26 from three?
5. Matchup to watch? With apologies to Duke’s Luke Kennard (21.4 ppg), it could be Ben Lammers vs. Duke forward Amile Jefferson. The 6-9, 224-pound Jefferson missed last season’s matchup in Atlanta with a foot fracture, but like Lammers, he gives the Blue Devils a springy offensive rebounder and rim protector on defense. Jefferson leads the ACC in both rebounding (10.9) and field goal percentage (63.2 percent).