With a number of things going against them including late foul trouble, a hostile crowd, and an opponent that refused to be intimidated this team continued to stay the course and made plays down the stretch. The Blue Devils were also able to weather the storm that was Georgia Tech's 15-4 start.
With the game tied at 68, Duke put the clamps on the Jackets and held them to one field goal the rest of the way home, while running the offense and getting clutch shots from both Ewing and Redick to put the game away.
On the afternoon the Duke backcourt duo combined for 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting though they were 6-of-9 from the perimeter including 5-of-6 in the second half from beyond the arc.
When Redick was saddled with foul trouble in the first half the Devils didn't panic. Instead they concentrated on getting the ball inside to Shelden Williams who played, perhaps, his best half of basketball in a Duke uniform with 14 points and eight rebounds in the first stanza. It was a different player during that time as it seemed he tried to dunk every ball he received in the paint while aggressively fighting for rebounds on both ends of the floor.
In the second half Duke got a lift from the second big guy as Shavlik Randolph seemed to come up with every rebound down the stretch while converting on the offensive end. All tolled the sophomore tandem was too much down low for Tech to handle as the Blue Devils outscored the Jackets 40-30 in the paint and out rebounded them 40-33.
Though the box score didn't show it, Duke also managed to hit key free throws during the game before Ewing missed a pair that would have iced it with a minute remaining. In the first half Duke converted 8-of-10 from the charity stripe when the jump shots weren't falling.
The Blue Devils also did a terrific job preventing Georgia Tech from getting out an turning this game into a track meet, limiting them to just eight fast break points on the night.
The scoring was also as balanced as it has been all season with five Devils hitting double figures.
What Went Wrong:
The Devils started off extremely cold from the field, settling for jump shots instead of attacking the basket. In fact the first half saw Duke shoot just 1-of-8 from the perimeter. It wasn't until Redick was sent to the bench with his third foul that the Blue Devils really began attacking and slashing to the basket.
Though it's hard to find fault with protecting a teammate it was a bit disheartening to see the scuffle that ensued in the first half. However, it did seem to spark Duke.
There were also some careless passes and questionable ball handling decisions made which led to the 21 turnovers, but as Coach K said in the post game press conference, a lot of that was due to Tech's defensive pressure.
Player of the Game:
In just his 19th game as a collegiate, Luol Deng has had his break out performance. The freshman was cool under pressure throughout the game – hitting for 22 points and 10 rebounds. Down the stretch it seemed that whenever Duke needed a big basket Deng came through with no hesitation.
Luol Deng: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks
Shelden Williams: 15 points, 10 rebounds
Shavlik Randolph: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Chris Duhon: 7 points, 9 assists
A win in this kind of hostile environment is certainly a positive for the Blue Devils going forward. Another positive is winning on Saturday and then having a break until Thursday night's tilt with the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. The rest will likely do the Devils some good as Krzyzewski had mentioned fatigue playing a factor with a few of his starters.
When Thursday night rolls around Duke will face another opponent with a roster full of athletes who are unlikely to be intimidated. North Carolina has certainly been on a roller coaster ride this season, winning three games while dropping four in the league including Saturday's loss to Clemson. Unfortunately for Duke they are likely due for a top shelf performance.
No matter what, it'll be fun.