The Duke Blue Devils (15-1, 2-1) will look to rebound from their first loss of the season as they take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-5, 0-3) back in the friendly confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
On paper, there is nothing terribly impressive about the Yellow Jackets. They’ve limped to an awful start in ACC play and their offensive numbers (.421 FGP, 65.5 PPG) are miserable at best. With Duke looking to come back strong after their first loss, there isn’t much going in favor of Georgia Tech heading into the contest. But, and I hate sounding like a broken record, anything can happen in college basketball. After all, Georgia Tech isn’t a bad team, they’re actually quite talented. The problem is that they’re a young team that is struggling to put together a complete and consistent game, as young teams so often do.
On November 28th, the Yellow Jackets found themselves within a point of #22 Illinois at halftime. It looked they might be able to pull off the upset when, unexpectedly, they collapsed in the second half, scoring only 27 points as Illinois pulled away to 75-62 victory. The same exact thing happened against Cal-Berkley, with the Yellow Jackets being within one at halftime before collapsing in the second half, and nothing has changed since the start of ACC play.
The problem lies entirely with the offense. The potential is there, but they just aren’t talented enough, at this moment, to put up a complete, forty-minute effort. They don’t have a go-to scorer, someone who can break them out of tough stretches and carry them to victories. Of course, a go-to guy isn’t necessary if you have a rotation full of reliable scorers, which is how teams such as Butler and San Diego State get by, but they don’t.
Like I said, though, the potential is there. Marcus Georges-Hunt (G, 6-5, 218), a talented, freshman guard, has averaged 10.9ppg and 4.4rpg and has looked the part of a star in the making on a few occasions this season. He’s been their most consistent player this season, but his play has slipped since the start of ACC play (something Duke fans can relate to, as their own star freshman, Rasheed Sulaimon, has slipped dramatically against ACC competition).
Robert Carter (F, 6-8, 245), their other talented freshman, has shown flashes of brilliance, but has largely been inconsistent over the course of this season. He’s a decent shooter and could evolve into a dangerous one, but he has struggled mightily against tougher competition, shooting 13-46 from the field in Georgia Tech’s losses. He is a skilled rebounder, however, and could present a problem for the Blue Devils on the offensive boards, a place Duke has struggled at all season.
Georgia Tech doesn’t match up well with Duke on paper, but blowouts in the ACC don’t happen often and the Yellow Jackets have stuck around with everyone they’ve played so far this season. Don’t be surprised if, when halftime comes, Georgia Tech is right on Duke’s heels. It all comes down to whether or not the Yellow Jackets are capable of putting together a complete, 40-minute performance.