DURHAM, NC- Georgia Tech like most teams have struggled historically in Cameron Indoor Stadium and Mike Krzyzewski’s farewell ACC season was no exception as the Blue Devils got to the free line an absurd amount of times in a 69-57 loss by the Jackets. Tech fell to 6-7 on the season and remain winless in ACC play at 0-3 while Duke improved to 12-1 on the year and 2-0 in the ACC.
Duke shot 40 free throws in the game while Tech shot just 12. The Jackets were called for 27 fouls compared to just 14 for the Blue Devils in a very physical and intense game. Tech managed to stay in the game because Duke missed nine free throws in the second half on 21 attempts.
“I would prefer to get to the free-throw line more than just 12 times and but I’m going to take the high road on it (referring to the officiating). I know that the officials have a tough job and, you know I got to go back and watch the film and if I have any questions or anything I call I’ll call Bryan Kersey the head of officials and talk to him about it,” Pastner said.
Paolo Banchero led Duke with 17 points and was one of four Blue Devils in double figures along with Mark Williams 10 points and 14 rebounds who dominated the offensive glass with five offensive boards, AJ Griffin who had 12 points off the bench and Trevor Keels who had 10 points including a three that ended Tech’s comeback bid.
Mike Devoe and Jordan Usher were big in the second half after slow starts. Devoe ended up with 21 points, 18 in the second half and Usher had 11 points and several key defensive players for the Jackets before fouling out.
“It can be frustrating (the foul calls) but you know, it’s a game at the end of the day, you never know how the whistles are going to blow so you just got to play through it,” forward Khalid Moore said after the game after fouling out in 24 minutes. “I can only work on what I can control and just leave the rest. So I just try and play hard and just work through it.”
Tech was plus-3 with Moore on the court during the game but he had to sit several times due to foul trouble in the first and second half. On Moore and Saba Gigiberia had a positive plus/minus in the game.
“That was an exhausting game because we both played really hard defensively,” Krzyzewski said. “That is what saved it for us. The lack of practice and lack of conditioning and they [Georgia Tech] had an impact on our offensive execution, shots and free throws. But it did not defensively and rebounding. Mark [Williams] has not rebounded well, and tonight he rebounded great. It was a key play in the game because then we took it down and Jeremy [Roach] got fouled. That was a big game for Mark. We weren’t able to finish inside and got it there seven or eight times and the kid Jordan Meka really did a good job of protecting their basket. They had all those guards in the game. Josh Pastner does a job with his team. When you are not at peak shape and change those defenses, they can really stand you up. At the end of the game when they went to 1-3-1, it made you think you’re tired. Then, you’re making hard passes instead of really strong moves. Overall, it was a good win for us coming off the break.”
One of the stranger moments of the game came in the second half when Devoe shouted something at the Duke bench and Krzyzewski blew a fuse during a timeout to the officials about it. Krzyzewski talked with Pastner and got an apology from Devoe as well after the game. Devoe for his part said it was not directed at the legendary coach but instead the team.
I guess (Coach K) took it the wrong way because for some reason, but I have the utmost respect for him. I went and apologized after the game and everything like that, but I don’t know which way he took it,” Devoe said. “He said you don’t know who you’re talking to. But I was just trying to compete with them. That’s all there was. So I guess he took it the wrong way. But for me as a competitor, I want to beat Duke, so that’s, that’s a big thing for me. Growing up, I was a Duke fan. So for me to come in here and try to get one on the road and that’s the thing that I just tried to do imagine emotions running high with the environment and they’re absolutely you know, they are they got so many fans talking trash and things like that. So I just strive to be a true competitor.”
Pastner said he did not see what happened but he talked to Krzyzewski about it after the game and the Jackets’ program has nothing but respect for the Hall of Fame coach.
“I don’t know all what happened with that. I didn’t see anything, but first of all, we only have in our team or program or myself nothing but the highest level of respect for Coach K. He’s not only one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport and has helped grow a sport. He’s also a tremendous human being. I’ve known coach for a long time. He’s always been so gracious and kind to me,” Pastner said. “I told coach I would talked to Michael and obviously I’ll keep that between Michael and me. Our young men have nothing but the highest level of respect for Coach K. Michael Devoe is a really good kid and he’s a good player. I don’t know what was happened because I wasn’t there and I didn’t even see anything because I was in the heat of the moment, but you can’t do that. No matter what the situation is. No player should ever talk to an opposing coach. I know Michael Devoe has nothing but the highest level of respect for Coach K.”
Tech held Duke to 37.3-percent shooting for the game but 45.5 in the second half after holding them to 31-percent in the first half. Tech struggled shooting 32.8-percent for the game and the Jackets gave up 17 second-chance points to eight.
Rodney Howard missed his second straight game with an ankle injury and Pastner said he is unsure of his timeline to return.
“Obviously you want to have Rodney and you want to have your full complement of guys but he’s had an ankle injury and not having the full combo with the big guys still can be a little shorthanded at times, but that’s just the way it is. We got to get him healthy and once he gets healthy, he’ll be back ready to play,” Pastner said.
Pastner even orchestrated a surprise for the game that ended up not happening. Former Tech coach Bobby Cremins was cleared to join the team on the bench for the game, but a hernia issue kept that from happening.
“I worked with Mr. Stansbury and compliance to get Bobby Cremins here so he could sit on the bench as a going-away present coach K. He had so many great battles with coach K and he was going to sit on our bench for the game and be in the handshake line with us but he ended up getting a hernia so he wasn’t able to come,” Pastner said.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Georgia Tech led at the first media timeout off a Khalid Moore three-point basket 9-7 with 14:31 to go. Duke outscored Tech 10-2 during the next segment ahead of the second media timeout to take a 17-11 lead with 11:32 to go. Tech went three-plus minutes without a basket during that stretch before Deebo Coleman knocked down a corner three to make it 17-14. Khalid Moore picked up his third foul with 7:00 to go in the half. Mike Devoe hit a corner three to make it a one-point game 22-21 but Duke went on a 7-0 run to take a 29-21 lead with 3:45 left. Tech went scoreless for 3:47 before Kyle Sturdivant hit a pair of free throws with 1:45 left to make it 30-23. Tech ended the half without a field goal in the final 5:32 of the half. Paolo Banchero led all scorers with 12 pots in the first half including 6-8 from the free-throw line. Tech held Duke to 31-percent shooting while the Jackets shot 25-percent from the field. Jordan Usher and Mike Devoe combined for 5 points and 2-9 shooting in the first half for the Jackets. Duke had 19 free throw attempts leading to 14 points while Tech attempted just four in the first half. Khalid Moore was Tech’s leading scorer at the break with 7 points.
Tech trailed 38-27 at the first media timeout of the second half. The Jackets cut the lead to six, but Duke answered with a 5-0 run to retake an 11-point lead 45-34 at the next media timeout with 11:33 to go. The Blue Devils struggles at the free-throw line kept the Jackets within striking distance 51-38 with 9:16 to go. Duke hit just 3-11 free throws to open the second half. Tech went on a 6-0 run to make it an eight-point game with 5:41 to go causing coach Krzyzewski to call a timeout. Devoe hit a three to cut the lead to six with under four minutes to go. Trevor Keels responded on the other end with a layup. Tech trailed 58-50 at the final media timeout with 3:23 left. Duke hit three straight buckets to pull away by 11 late.
Tech heads back to McCamish Pavilion to play Notre Dame at 6 pm while Duke hosts Miami on Saturday night in Cameron Indoor at 8 pm.