Duke used a 12-0 run at the start of the second half to hold off Georgia Tech 73 to -57 to help the Blue Devils avoid a second straight loss.
With the win the No. 3 Blue Devils improved their record to 16-1 (3-1 ACC). It was Duke’s second game since losing Ryan Kelly for an indefinite amount of time and for a good time against the Yellow Jackets it looked as if they some how were going to play even worse then they did in last weekend’s loss to NC State.
Duke managed to respond in the second half and one player in particular, Amile Jefferson, maybe showing signs of stepping up to help fill the void somewhat.
He didn’t have the biggest stat line but Amile Jefferson had his second straight solid game scoring 6 point and grabbing 10 rebounds providing the Blue Devils a big spark off the bench. At times he was all over the place flying in for rebounds and diving on the floor. Jefferson was so impressive in stretches that there are rumblings calling for Jefferson to move into the starting lineup and it would be hard to argue with that after Thursday night.
Duke’s star, Mason Plumlee struggled in the first half scoring only 6 points on 2 of 12 shooting as Duke went into the half-time locker room trailing for just the third time all season. The Blue Devils National Player of the Year candidate, however, managed to come on strong in the second half inspiring 65-year-old Mike Krzyzewski to leap from the bench run on to the court and do a pseudo jump into his star players arms after one strong sequence.
Plumlee finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds . Seth Curry who was a bit of a question mark after spraining his foot in the loss to NC State showed few signs of the injury as he torched Georgia Tech to the tune of 24 points including hitting 6 of 7 from behind the arc. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon also broke out of his recent slump and finished the game with 15 points, a big improvement over his inconsistent play over the last month.
Still the big story of the game would have to be Duke’s performance in the second half which saw a much more inspired looking performance. Spurred on by Jefferson’s hustle the Blue Devils picked things up on the defensive end as well as the offensive end and showed signs that perhaps they are starting to get a feel for how they need to play without Kelly in the lineup.
The good news coming from some sources close to Duke indicate there is a possibility that Kelly may make it back into the lineup by February. Again those are just rumblings right now but if true that is a good sign for Duke, still if the Blue Devils can put more performances together like those in the second half then they will be all the better for it.
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