Preview: Duke (13-1) v. Ga. Tech (11-3)

Previewing the Blue Devils and the Yellow Jackets who tip off on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 PM. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.


Duke (13-1) vs Georgia Tech (11-3)
Atlanta, Ga. - Alexander Mem. Coliseum
TV: ESPN / Tip: 2:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  ACC
Nickname:  Yellow Jackets
Colors:  Gold, Blue, White 
Head Coach: Paul Hewitt (9th season)
Career Record at Georgia Tech: 153-129 

Projected Starters:
 0 Mfon Udofia (6-2, 190, Fr.) – 11.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg
 3 Maurice Miller (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 3.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg
14 Derrick Favors (6-10, 245, Fr.) – 12.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg
31 Gani Lawal (6-9, 235, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg
13 D'Andre Bell (6-6, 220, Sr.) - 6.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Key Reserves:
35 Zach Peacock (6-8, 235, Sr.) – 9.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg
 1 Iman Shumpert (6-5, 210, So.) – 8.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
11 Brian Oliver (6-6, 220, Fr.) – 3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg
41 Glen Rice, Jr. (6-5, 195, Fr.) - 3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Story Lines For Georgia Tech:

How They Got Here:
Georgia Tech enters Saturday's game ranked as the nation's No.20 overall team with an 11-3 overall record and a 0-1 mark in ACC play. Tech, at 11-3 overall, is off to its best start since the 2006-07 season despite a 73-66 loss at Georgia Tuesday night. The Yellow Jackets are 7-1 at home this season.

Duke is coming off a pair of 21 point victories over No. 21 Clemson and Iowa State respectively. The Blue Devils are 13-1 overall and have won six straight since dropping a decision to Wisconsin in Madison in early December.

Series History:
This will be the 84th meeting between the two schools. The Blue Devils own a 61-22 overall advantage and a 24-14 margin in games played at Georgia Tech. Overall the Blue Devils have won 24 of the previous 26 meetings between the two programs. Under Coach K Duke has posted a 17-11 record in games in Atlanta which includes a 7-1 mark against Paul Hewitt coached teams.

Injury Report:
Both teams appear to be relatively healthy heading into Saturday's game. Georgia Tech has returned to full strength just recently with the medical clearance of Iman Shumpert, who came back from surgery to repair a damaged meniscus in his right knee. Since returning the 6'5, 210 pound guard has played 59 minutes in two games, averaging 8.4 points and 2.9 rebounds.

Projected rotational player and highly rated freshman Kammeon Holsey, a 6-8 forward from Sparta, Ga., will not play this season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Aug, 1.

Notable Occurrences Happening In Atlanta
Saturday's game will allow the Yellow Jacket program to honor the 1985 ACC Championship team while also being the 300th game Hewitt has coached for Tech. The 1985 team was the first of three ACC Championship teams the program has enjoyed, and allowed Georgia Tech to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1960.

Post Strength:
While much has been made of Duke's ability to rebound the basketball and the sheer volume of big players on the Blue Devil roster, the team has yet to face a frontline duo this talented. Freshman Derrick Favors - rated as the class of 2009's top overall prospect by Scout.com, and Gani Lawal have terrorized opponents over the course of this season. The duo are Tech's top scorers and rebounders, and both are in the conference's top five for both rebounds per game and field goal percentage.

Though he's been a bit less consistent than his upperclassman frontcourt mate, Favors has shown flashes of living up to the hype that projects him as a top five NBA Draft pick in June. So far this season he has logged five double-doubles while shooting just under 60 percent from the floor.

Lawal, a 6-9 junior who opted not to declare for the draft last season despite first round projections, has recorded seven double-doubles in 14 games and ranks fifth in the ACC in field goal percentage at 55.5 percent. All told the two big men combine to score 35.8 percent of Georgia Tech's points per contest.

Youth Is Served:
Favors isn't the only first year player making a mark in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets have four newcomers contributing to date with two of the four earning starting positions. Favors is the obvious choice for Tech in the middle, but the Jackets are also starting a first year player at the point guard position in the form of 6-foot-2 Mfon Udofia. Joining the two starters are first year players are 6'6 forward Brian Oliver, who started five games in the absence of Iman Shumpert, and Glen Rice, Jr.

No Continuity At The Point
Freshman point guard Mfon Udofia who is the fifth true freshman point guard to start under Hewitt joining names such as Jarrett Jack and Javaris Crittenton. It's been a recurring problem for the Yellow Jackets who have endured five different starting point guards in each of the last four years. After Jack left in 2005, Hewitt turned to Zam Fredrick, a natural shooting guard, to serve as the lead guard with help from D'Andre Bell and Mario West in 2005- 06. Fredrick transferred to South Carolina after the season. Crittenton started as a freshman in 2006-07, helped lead the Jackets to a 20-12 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, and then declared for the NBA draft following the season. Moe Miller (19 starts) and senior Matt Causey (9 starts) split the assignment in 2007-08. Shumpert took over last year.

This year it's Udofia who has put in some good performances this season. He's the team's third leading scorer, but has been inconsistent over the last six game - reaching double figures just twice. An aggressive guard who likes to attack the basket, the 6'2 Georgia native has been to the free throw line more than any other Tech perimeter player (44 attempts). Despite struggling early, he's made 16 of his last 19 attempts from the charity stripe. Over the last three games he's looked to score more than distribute which has left him with just 5 assists against eight turnovers.

Fearless Prediction(s)
The key for Duke will be to win the match-up on the win and in the backcourt while making life difficult for Favors and Lawal inside. Simply put, Georgia Tech has an NBA ready front court and will enjoy an advantage inside. For Duke to neutralize that it will be important for the Blue Devils to prevent easy entry passes and to really pressure the guards - namely Udofia. Coach K's frontcourt has been very good on both ends of the floor this season and will need to continue to battle and compete on Saturday. If they can slow down Tech's talented bunch, Duke should be able to pull away. Look for the game's outcome to still be doubt down until the under eight minute TV timeout before Duke is able to build enough of an advantage to hang on down the stretch.

Prediction:

Duke 78
Georgia Tech 68


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