Duke (14-1) vs Georgia Tech (9-6)
Atlanta, Ga. - Alexander Memorial Coliseum
TV: ESPN / Tip: 7:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: ACC Nickname: Yellow Jackets Colors: Blue and Gold and White Head Coach: Paul Hewitt (9th season) Career Record at Davidson: 151-118
Projected Starters: 44 Alade Aminu (6-10, 225, Sr.) – 13.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg 31 Gani Lawal (6-9, 233, So.) – 16.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg 35 Zachery Peacock (6-8, 240, Jr.) – 10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg 1 Iman Shumpert (6-5, 200, Fr.) – 11.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg 0 Lewis Clinch (6-3, 195, Sr.) – 14.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg Key Reserves: 34 Brad Sheehan (7-0, 233, Jr.) – 3.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg 13 D'Andre Bell (6-6, 220, Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg 10 Lance Storrs (6-5, 220, Fr.) – 4.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg 4 Nick Foreman (6-9, 220, Fr.) - 2.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Storylines For Georgia Tech:
How They Got Here:
The Blue Devils complete a tough week that saw the team face three opponents in six days including Davidson, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. Duke managed wins in each contest - crushing the Hokies at home, pushing past Davidson, and then putting the Seminoles away with relative ease. In each of those games Duke used a mid-game run to build leads of more than 20 points before slowing down and coasting to the finish line.
Meanwhile the Yellow Jackets have slowed somewhat after an 7-2 start to the season that saw a win over Vanderbilt as the top result. Since that time, however, the Yellow Jackets have lost four of their last six games including both ACC games (against Maryland and Virginia). This will be the first game of the season in which Tech has faced a team ranked in either of the two major polls.
This will be the 83rd meeting between the two programs. The Blue Devils own an 60-22 all-time lead in the series and have won 23 of the last 25 meetings including last season's 13 point victory in Durham (71-58) and then an 82-70 decision in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Duke's Greg Paulus continues to be somewhat hampered by an injured forearm. Meanwhile Georgia Tech will be without D'Andre Bell who is out for the season with a spinal condition.
Several Rotational Changes For Tech So Far:
Usually teams have a set rotation when conference play begins. However, the Yellow Jackets have struggled to find consistency after battling injuries, ineligibility, and other such situations. Senior scoring guard Lewis Clinch didn't make his debut for the Jackets until December 17th because of academic ineligibility. Sophomore Moe Miller missed seven games after suffering a concussion and nasal fracture. Zach Peacock missed the Maryland game with the flu. And, of course, Bell is out with a spinal injury - leaving the Jackets with just nine scholarship players.
Make Sure To Lookout For...
Sophomore power forward Gani Lawal has been one of the best frontcourt players in the conference to date. The 6-foot-9 big forward has averaged a double-double through his first 15 games at nearly 17 points and 10 rebounds per contest while knocking down 56% of his field goal attempts. The improved numbers may make him a strong candidate for the Most Improved Player in the conference by nearly doubling his points and rebounds per contest.
Lawal has posted 10 or more rebounds in 10 of his 15 games this season and has posted double-doubles in nine of the 15. He has scored in double figures in 14 of his 15 appearances - which is a marked improvement from last season where it took him 11 games to finally eclipse the 10 point plateau.
Joining Lawal up front is senior Alade Aminu who ranks third on the roster in scoring and, combined with Lawal, makes up 41% of the team's offensive output in 2009. Aminu ranks second in the ACC (behind his frontcourt mate) in rebounding and field goal percentage and has posted six double-doubles and seven games of 10 rebounds or more. The third frontcourt member, senior guard Zach Peacock is averaging a career best 5.9 rebounds - over his last three games Peacock has logged a career high in scoring (22 against Tennessee State); season high in rebounds (9 against Alabama), as well as his second career double-double (18/13) against Georgia.
Much like last year, the Yellow Jackets are no strangers to playing games that go down to the wire. Last season Tech saw 21 of 32 games decided by 10 or fewer points - winning nine of those games. Fourteen of those games were decided by five points or less with the Jackets winning half of those games. This year eight of the 15 games have been decided by 8 points or less.
With just nine scholarship players, the Yellow Jackets' best chance will be to slow the game down and let Aminu and Lawal go to work and test Duke's frontcourt of Zoubek, Thomas, and Singler. The matchup of Singler and Lawal will be the featured pairing. The Blue Devils have the advantage in the backcourt, although Clinch has shown the ability to catch fire and take over a game - to date it hasn't happened this season - something Hewitt noted in his pre-game press conference. If the Blue Devils get a solid frontcourt showing out of Zoubek, Thomas, and, perhaps, Miles Plumlee it should spell a 15th win for Duke on the season.
Georgia Tech 67