Duke basketball begins road trip with critical game against Georgia Tech

Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Matthew Hurt (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /

Duke basketball is set to begin a critical two-game road trip against Georgia Tech. 

The NCAA Tournament hopes of the Duke basketball team hang in the balance of its pending two-game road trip.

Following its home loss to Louisville on Saturday, the Blue Devils must find a way to at least split their pending games against Georgia Tech and North Carolina before the ACC Tournament.

Should Duke get swept and head into the postseason riding a three-game losing streak, the Blue Devils would need to win the ACC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.

However, a two-game winning streak would probably erase the chance of needing the automatic bid, and a three-game winning streak would solidify the Blue Devils’ spot in the Field of 68.

The first matchup will not be easy as Georgia Tech has revenge on its mind. Just ask senior forward Moses Wright, who all but guaranteed a victory over Duke after the Yellow Jackets’ victory over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.

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Duke defeated Georgia Tech in the first meeting between the two programs this season, but the Blue Devils were led by freshman forward Jalen Johnson in their victory as the former five-star recruit is no longer with the program.

Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt has led Duke since the departure of Johnson, but the team wasted a 37-point outing from the ACC Player of the Year contender against Louisville.

Hurt is averaging 19.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game on 56.9-percent shooting from the field and 45.8-percent from three-point range.

Duke basketball must contain Georgia Tech stars

Given his stats this season, Moses Wright certainly looks like he can back-up his trash talk by averaging 17.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game.

Wright’s senior teammate, Jose Alvarado, will certainly be looking to end his home campaign with an iconic performance as the point guard is shooting 51.9-percent from the floor and 42.4-percent from three-point range while averaging 16.0 points per game.

Guards Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher combine to average 25.6 points per game.

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It’s no secret that the trio of Jordan Goldwire, DJ Steward, and Jeremy Roach will have to step up in order for Duke to emerge victorious, as well as getting excellent paint play from freshman Mark Williams.

The three guards were well below average in Duke’s loss to Louisville while Williams was not on the floor in the most critical moments of the game.

If Duke wants to win, it will have to hope its three freshmen and one senior are able to play championship-caliber basketball, because that is what it’s going to take to emerge victorious.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00pm EST (ACC Network) inside McCamish Pavilion.

PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 75, Duke 71

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