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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Duke

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

His answer had a touch of the profound, a touch of Yogi Berra.

“It starts with stops,” Damon Stoudamire said this week when asked about Georgia Tech’s recent struggles to protect second half leads.

Whether he intended the wordplay or not, it cut to the core of what has dogged the Yellow Jackets lately.  In three of its last four losses, including Tuesday’s overtime setback to Notre Dame, Georgia Tech (8-7, 1-3 ACC) has either led or trailed by one possession in the final three minutes.

They’ve had leads with the final buzzer in earshot.  Frustratingly, the Jackets haven’t gotten the wins to go with them.

Yet as they search for more consistent stops, perhaps Tech can take solace in knowing one of its most complete defensive games of the season came against the most efficient offense they’ve faced all year.  On Dec. 2, Georgia Tech held Duke (No. 8 in NCAA offensive efficiency) to 41-percent shooting in a court-storming, 72-68 upset in the ACC opener at McCamish Pavilion.

Duke (12-3, 3-1 ACC) hasn’t lost since that afternoon in Atlanta, ripping off seven straight wins by an average margin of 19.8 points.  A win won’t come easy in the rematch at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday.

It may start with stops, as Stoudamire says.  But if Tech wants to stop its losing streak, where better to start than Durham?

Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Yellow Jackets seek their first season sweep over the Blue Devils since 1996 (5 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Miles Kelly is 12-of-27 from three-point range over Tech’s last three games. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

The box score, in so many ways, defied the laws of basketball.

Georgia Tech was outscored 17-0 in second chance points and 17-2 in points off turnovers.  Teams that lose both categories – let alone by such wide margins – rarely wind up in the win column.

So how did the Yellow Jackets hold off the Blue Devils last month?  A couple numbers tell the story:

  • Tech shot 50.9 percent and averaged 11 points per possession, both season highs allowed by Duke.
  • Tech limited the Blue Devils, who rank third in the ACC in three-point percentage (37.2 pct.), to a season-low 25 percent from deep (4 of 16).

The Jackets didn’t force an obscene number of turnovers, but they played with active hands, which allowed them to recover in their screen-and-roll defense.  Duke ran liberal amounts of empty-side pick-and-roll with guard Jeremy Roach and 7-footer Kyle Filipowski, but Tech stayed in gaps and ran to shooters well when they tried to play out of it.

The result?  Duke not only shot a season low in three-point percentage, but its three-point rate – i.e., the percentage of its shot attempts that came from beyond the arc – was its second lowest of the year.  Compare that to the Blue Devils’ three-point rates in their two most recent games:

Three-Point Rate (% of FGA that are 3-pointers)

  • Pittsburgh – 44.6%
  • Notre Dame – 44.1%
  • Georgia Tech – 25.8%

It adheres to Stoudamire’s philosophy, which he repeated again on Friday: “Threes beat you; twos don’t.” 

An injury to point guard Tyrese Proctor two minutes into the game certainly impacted Duke’s flow on offense, but that same attention to detail will need to apply on Saturday.  Freshman Jared McCain (43.6 pct. 3pt.) has averaged 17 points per game since that loss, and Filipowski (17.4 ppg) made all four of his three-pointers in the Blue Devils’ rout of Pittsburgh.  The Jackets will need to locate Duke’s shooters in transition – the Blue Devils love to enliven the Cameron crowd with transition threes – and be rugged fighting over screens to keep Roach from asserting himself as a three-level playmaker.  Duke has also gotten improved play from 6-9 Mark Mitchell (12.2 ppg), a predacious presence in the paint who may be looking to reignite himself after a season-low four points against Pitt.

*****

Odds are Ken Swilling remembers his 72-yard interception return for a touchdown against Boston College in a 13-12 win over the Eagles at Bobby Dodd Stadium in 1989.

It’s less likely Swilling remembers the name of the Eagles quarterback whose pass he picked off that day.  In case he doesn’t, it was Mike Power, whose nephew, T.J., is a freshman forward for the Blue Devils.  Power graduated from Worcester Academy, the same school that produced Yellow Jacket great Jarrett Jack.

*****

Has Miles Kelly started to show signs of a thaw from three?  Over the last three games, the junior has made 12 of 27 three-pointers.

Prior to that, he had gone 12 for his last 57.

Miles Kelly

  • Last 3 games: 12 of 27  (44.4%)
  • Previous 8+ games: 12 of 57  (21.0%)

Freshman Baye Ndongo tallied a game-high 21 points in Tech’s Dec. 2 victory over Duke. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Georgia Tech’s three-point shooting has been a promising development, but their work inside the arc was even more impressive last month.  The Yellow Jackets quietly made 67 percent of their two-point attempts against Duke (20-of-30), the highest percentage the Blue Devils have allowed in a game since January of 2019.  Can Tech continue to cut with pace, drive with force, make the “one more” passes, and not get overheated by Duke’s length?  And what defensive adjustments might the Blue Devils spring on Baye Ndongo after the freshman blowtorched them for 21 points last month?

*****

Georgia Tech has now faced a pair of siblings on different teams.

Duke’s freshman class features 6-foot-9 Sean Stewart, who’s averaging 3.0 points per game off the bench.  His older brother, Miles Stewart, played against Tech earlier this year for Howard.  And their father, Michael Stewart, dueled with Damon Stoudamire back in their Pac-10 days – Stewart played for Cal before an eight-year career in the NBA.

By the way, the Boston Celtics filled Stoudamire’s assistant coaching spot by hiring … Duke assistant Amile Jefferson.

*****

Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you in Durham.

-AD-

 


Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of the development of Yellow Jackets that thrive academically at the Institute and compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Damon Stoudamire. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.

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