Preview: Duke (17-4) v. Ga Tech (16-5)

Previewing the Blue Devils and Yellow Jackets who will tip off in Cameron on Thursday night. The game will be broadcast by ESPN beginning at 7:00 PM EST.


Duke (17-4) vs Georgia Tech (16-5)
Durham, N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN2 / Tip: 7:00 PM EST

Program Vitals
Conference:  ACC
Nickname:  Yellow Jackets
Colors:  Gold, Blue, White 
Head Coach: Paul Hewitt (9th season)
Career Record at Georgia Tech: 158-131 

Projected Starters:
 0 Mfon Udofia (6-2, 190, Fr.) – 9.o ppg, 3.4 rpg
 1 Iman Shumpert (6-5, 210, So.) – 10.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg
14 Derrick Favors (6-10, 245, Fr.) – 11.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg
31 Gani Lawal (6-9, 235, Jr.) – 14.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg
13 D'Andre Bell (6-6, 220, Sr.) - 6.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg

Key Reserves:
35 Zach Peacock (6-8, 235, Sr.) – 9.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg
 3 Maurice Miller (6-2, 190, Jr.) – 2.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg
11 Brian Oliver (6-6, 220, Fr.) – 7.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg
41 Glen Rice, Jr. (6-5, 195, Fr.) - 4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg

Story Lines For Georgia Tech:

How They Got Here:
The Yellow Jackets enter Thursday night's game having won four of their previous five games including their last conference game over Wake Forest by 21 points and, more recently, a January 30th decision over Kentucky State by 48. The only loss in the last five games was a 68-66 loss at Florida State.

LIkewise the Blue Devils had won four of their previous five games. That was before Georgetown overpowered Duke up and down the floor - maintaing a 20 point lead for most of the second half en route to an easy 89-77 victory on Saturday.

Series History:
This will be the 85th meeting between the two schools. The Blue Devils own a 61-23 overall advantage and a 29-5 margin in games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Overall the Blue Devils have won 24 of the previous 27 meetings between the two programs. The two coaches enter the game with career records that are complete contrasts of one another. Paul Hewitt is just 1-6 in games played at Cameron while Mike Krzyzewski is 23-4 in games played against the Yellow Jackets in Cameron.

Injury Report:
Both teams appear to be relatively healthy heading into Thursday's game.

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.

Is It All Coming Together For Tech
Prior to the Wake Forest game, the Yellow Jackets had put together three victories by a total of eight points. However, when the Demon Deacons came to town recently the Jackets ran out to a 21 point victory. The 21-point margin was the largest in an ACC game since the Yellow Jackets defeated Clemson on the road, 74-50, on Feb. 6, 2003, and Tech's third-largest winning margin in an ACC game under Paul Hewitt. Tech's top winning margin in an ACC game under Hewitt is 31 points, a 77-46 win over Florida State on Jan. 30, 2003.

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 had 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.

In the first match-up Duke did well against Favors, holding the talented newcomer to just seven points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes of action while forcing him into four turnovers. However, the tremendous effort on Favors didn't translate against Lawal who hit eight of his nine field goal attempts on his way to 21 points and nine rebounds to help the Yellow Jackets keep the Blue Devils at bay throughout the second half.

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.

In the first match-up Udofia hit three of six from behind the arc to finish with 13 points and three rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Oliver added five points and three boards in 24 minutes while Rice chipped in with two points in nine minutes.

On the year, Favors has scored in double figures in 15 of 21 games, leads ACC freshmen in scoring (11.5 ppg), rebounding (8.6 rpg) and field goal percentage (.581). Udofia has scored in double figures in nine games and ranks third among ACC freshmen in scoring at 9.0 points per game. Oliver has given the Jackets another three-point shooting threat, hitting 40.6 percent for the season to rank among the top 10 in the ACC. Rice, Jr., has been active on both ends of the floor, contributing in every column of the stat sheet.

Off The Bench...
Zach Peacock has been a tremendous force for the team off the bench this season. The 6'8 senior is able to provide scoring punch and rebounding in relief of the talented starting frontcourt duo. He's hit double figures in six of the last 12 games and is Tech's fourth-leading scorer both in ACC games (10.1 ppg) and in all games (9.6 ppg). With Peacock included, Tech's three-man rotation of big men account for 46.2 percent of Tech's scoring and 52.2 percent of the rebounds this season.

Fearless Prediction(s)
The last time these two teams met it was the same song for Duke, which has struggled away from home for much of the year -- poor perimeter shooting from the team as a whole added in with one of the "big three" having a miserable night from the field. On this day it was Kyle Singler who shot just 2-of-13 from the floor to finish with nine points and five rebounds while playing 38 minutes. Senior Jon Scheyer wasn't any better from behind the arc, hitting just three of 13 shots from the perimeter. In all the Blue Devils couldn't hit their shots, took bad shots, and didn't get many second chances with Lawal and Favors and company owning the boards in the decisive second half by a 26-12 margin. Luckily for Duke the team had shot better and generally played much better at home. In addition they've had several days to process and learn from the performance in Washington, D.C. against Georgetown. Look for the Blue Devils to attempt to jump on Tech early and to have put a lot of time into performing much as they did in the first half of the game in Atlanta on the boards (when they enjoyed a 20-12 advantage). Duke simply cannot match up with Favor sand Lawal for 40 minutes, but a better effort has to be made to challenge their shots and to crash the boards.

Prediction:

Duke 82
Georgia Tech 73


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