Any benefit of an eight day layoff could have been neutralized by the news that head coach Mike Krzyzewski was not going to be coaching in Atlanta on Tuesday night for Duke. However, a strong second half performance by Grayson Allen helped the Blue Devils rally to beat Georgia Tech, 80-71.
Prior to tip-off the school announced that head coach Mike Krzyzewski had not made the trip to Atlanta for Duke’s game against Georgia Tech. The 68 year old head coach had taken ill the previous night and was advised by his doctors to remain back in Durham.
Their coach’s absence was the latest challenge facing a team that had lost four of its last five games, and had dropped out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2007. And Duke looked lost for stretches in the first 20 minutes, eventually trailing 40-36 at intermission.
Many of the Blue Devils’ struggles could be traced to a very soft zone defense that allowed Georgia Tech to score at will on the interior, finishing the half shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor. Duke countered by hitting six first half three pointers to stay within striking distance, while also managing foul accumulation.
In the second half associate head coach Jeff Capel switched from zone to the program’s more traditional man-to-man defense and Duke began to lock down on the Yellow Jackets, building a 17 point second half lead before holding on to win by nine.
Leading the way for the Blue Devils was sophomore Grayson Allen who scored a game high 27 points. Derryck Thornton added 15 points in his return to the starting lineup while Brandon Ingram overcame a cold shooting night (3-of-15 FG) to finish with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The win boosts Duke to 16-6 overall on the year and 5-4 in the ACC. The Blue Devils return to action on Saturday when they host NC State in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Coach Krzyzewski is expected to be back on the sideline for the game against the Wolfpack.