Preview: Duke (19-4) vs. GA Tech (15-8)

After an emotional win against Wake Forest in their last game out, the Blue Devils return to the court hoping to avoid a let down against a very dangerous Georgia Tech team in Atlanta. Tech comes into the game having alternated wins and losses over the last seven games, and is in desperate need of a win to solidify their chances for a repeat NCAA Tournament berth. <I>TDD</I> previews the match up.

Against Wake Forest, the Blue Devils finally seemed to figure out their offensive sets, torching the Deacons for 60 second half points behind the hot shooting of J.J. Redick, along with a much improved offensive flow thanks to better passing and avoiding the tendency to fire up quick shots. It was a similar success story the first time the two teams met in Durham as Duke rolled to an 82-65 victory.

The driving force in that victory for Duke was the ability to rebound as a team as each started grabbed at least four rebounds including 12 from Shelden Williams and nine from Shavlik Randolph. As a team, Duke out-rebounded the Jackets 41-37 in Cameron, which helped Duke control the pace of the game and earned them advantages on second chance points (11-5) and fast break points (12-6).

The one factor missing from the first match up was Tech's leader, BJ Elder who was out with an injury. The 6'4, 220lbs senior has returned to action and is slowly getting his legs under him and is coming off a 22-point performance in his last game against Florida State.

Meet the Yellow Jackets:

C- Luke Schenscher (7'1, 250, SR) – The native Australian spends his time in the post and has proven to be deceptively coordinated and effective. Not overly quick when moving left to right, Schenscher is able to mask that by establishing correct position and using his size to grab rebounds on both ends of the floor. Offensively he's continued to improve his repertoire of post moves this year and has shown signs of a baby hook that, when on, is nearly impossible to stop. Defensively he's a good shot blocker, and usually stays out of foul trouble.

Last Time: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks in 33 minutes.

PF- Anthony McHenry (6'7, 220, SR) – McHenry is the ultimate glue guy for the Jackets. With a long and wirery frame and the ball handling skills of a point guard, he's played a number of different roles for Coach Paul Hewitt during his time in Atlanta. This year he's established himself as the team's defensive stopper with his ability to guard both wing positions thanks to good quickness and long arms. By no means is he an offensive threat on most nights, but he will make a living on garbage buckets if given the chance.

Last Time: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in 31 minutes.

WF- Isma'il Muhammad (6'6, 230, SR) – If you're looking for run and jump athletes, it doesn't get much better than Muhammad. With a solid frame and tremendous leaping ability, he's one of the NCAA's best finishers, and is able ignite the local crowd with any number of thunderous jams. And while he can score at the rim as well as anyone, the knock on his game is his perimeter shooting, where he's more apt to head fake and drive than shoot. Defensively his quick feet and strong frame allow him to match up against any number of opponents. He's also one of the best rebounding wing players in the conference.

Last Time: 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 turnovers in 27 minutes.

G- B.J. Elder (6'4, 220, SR) – Slowed by another injury this year after slowed in several games last year with an ankle injury, Elder is rounding back into shape after missing nearly a month. The team's most explosive scorer, Elder can pull up from the perimeter or beat his man off the dribble and finish at the rim. At times he gets a bit trigger happy, but has controlled that more this season. Can handle the ball in a pinch and sees the floor better than most scoring first guards. Isn't known to help out much on the boards.

Last Time: DNP – Injured.

Jarrett Jack (6'3, 200, JR) – One of the nation's best point guards, Jack is a lock to pay for play one day soon in the league. Able to go either way off the dribble, he sees the floor very well and can hit the open man after getting into the heart of the defense. His strong frame also allows him to finish at the rim with surprising regularity. Has really improved his scoring this year after being a "pass first" guard in his previous two seasons, and isn't afraid to take the reigns and carry his team in a pinch. Defensively he's very good at picking off lazy passes and is quick enough to come through and take the ball from his opponents.

Last Time: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists in 35 minutes.

The Reserves:

Like most teams, Georgia Tech has more depth than the Blue Devils, running four very good players off the pine, beginning with reserve post man Ra'Sean Dickey (6'9, 255, FR), who was highly recruited before falling off many radars due to injury. Dickey is still learning the game's finer points, but has good mobility and a soft touch around the rim and knows how to use his powerful frame to rebound and pick up garbage points. The return of Elder has relegated Will Bynum (6'0, 185, SR) to the bench. Before that he had proven himself as a capable wing scorer and point guard. New comer Anthony Morrow (6'5, 205, FR) is the heir apparent to Elder and has had some nice moments throughout the season, including a 7 point, 4 rebound performance against Duke last time. Rounding out the rotation is bruising combo forward Jeremis Smith (6'6, 235, FR), who, despite his size, is a load in the paint thanks to great athleticism and power.


Game Notes:
courtesy of Duke Sports Information

Duke (19-4, 9-4 ACC), ranked seventh in the nation by the AP and 10th by ESPN/USA Today, faces Georgia Tech (15-8, 6-6) on Wednesday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 7:00 PM.

This will mark the 76th meeting between Duke and Georgia Tech with the Blue Devils holding a 54-21 series advantage. Duke has won 27 of the past 32 meetings between the two schools, including an 82-65 victory in Durham on Feb. 5. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 39-16 vs. Georgia Tech.

The game will be televised nationally on espn2 with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (color) and Doris Burke (sideline) calling the action.

- Duke has defeated Georgia Tech in 17 of the last 18 games between the two schools

- Georgia Tech is coming off a 76-75 win at Florida State on Sunday. With the win, the Yellow Jackets improved to 15-8 overall and 6-6 in the ACC

- Duke will look to snap a three-game road losing streak on Wednesday. The Blue Devils have dropped consecutive road decisions at No. 7 Wake Forest, Maryland and Virginia Tech. Since the 1997-98 season, Duke is 130-30 on the road

- Beginning with Georgia Tech, Duke ends the regular season with three of its last four games on the road. The Blue Devils travel to play St. John's on Feb. 26, then have a home game vs. Miami on March 3 before closing out the regular season at North Carolina on March 6

- Duke's 102-92 win over No. 5 Wake Forest was its third over a ranked opponent in its past five games (15 days). Duke also defeated No. 25 Georgia Tech on Feb. 5 and No. 2 North Carolina on Feb. 9

Betting Line:

Duke by 1

Prediction:

Duke -85
Georgia Tech- 80


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