Georgia Tech Basketball Quick Recap: Jackets fall to Blue Devils 75-68

Jan 20, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Josh Pastner talks to guard Michael Devoe (0) against the Clemson Tigers in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Josh Pastner talks to guard Michael Devoe (0) against the Clemson Tigers in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

On Tuesday, the Georgia Tech men’s basketball team suffered a second-straight agonizing loss. After falling to Virginia, 64-62 on Saturday night, the Yellow Jackets just didn’t have enough to get past the Duke Blue Devils, losing 75-68. It drops the Jackets record to 7-5 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

The loss for the Jackets is their 14th straight to the Blue Devils and also means that they are still winless in Durham since the 2004 season. For the Jackets, an off night from beyond the arch combined with Duke dominating in the paint ended up being fatal. The Jackets shot just 33.3% from three which is good but still a few notches below where they’ve been shooting the last few games. The Jackets made 8-of-24 three point attempts, often settling for long range shots in the game.

The one downside of taking that many three pointers is the inability to get the ball down low and try to force a foul. The Jackets were on the receiving end of just five free throws in the losing effort while they sent Duke to the line for 22 attempts. The Blue Devils rarely missed, making 18-of-22 on the evening. It was just one sign of Duke’s domination down low, as they picked up 36 points in the paint as well as out rebounding the Jackets 43-28. 

In reality, those stats as well as a scoring drought at the end of the first half was the story of the game for the Jackets. The Jackets at the 8:25 mark of the first half were leading 20-16 following a Bubba Parham three-pointer, following that shot, the Jackets totaled just five points in the final eight minutes of the half and saw Duke rack up 17 points of their own to take a 33-25 lead into half time.

The Jackets came out of half time and played well and erased an 11-point lead at one point for Duke to take the lead 61-60 with just 3:46 remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the Jackets, Duke much like a Virginia was nearly unstoppable in the final minutes of the game though the Jackets did help, sending the Blue Devils to the line for 10 free throw attempts in the final 3:46 of the game. They would end up converting on nine of those attempts, enough to seal the Jackets fate in the loss.

The loss for the Jackets didn’t come down to talent. They most definitely had the talent to beat the Blue Devils. However, it came down to size as well as simple execution and smart plays. While Duke didn’t play a perfect game by any means, the Blue Devils rarely turned the ball over late in the game and were able to push to the basket on most of their late possessions with ease. The Jackets, not having the biggest size (Moses Wright being the biggest), were simply outmuscled by Duke’s big men in Jalen Johnson and Matthew Hurt, combined they totaled 37 points and 14 rebounds.

Late in the game, the Blue Devils felt calm and collected while still getting to the basket rather quickly while the Jackets seemed to be in a bit more of a rush even when there was plenty of time remaining. At times, trying to rush to the baskets can create dangerous situations. An example would be a late turnover by Jose Alvarado with a minute left in the game which proved to be costly, as a 69-68 Duke lead would be stretched to 71-68 off the turnover.

That being said, it’s not Alvarado’s fault for the loss, he was spectacular for the most part in the game. He scored 26 in the game on 10-of-15 shooting while adding in four rebounds and five assists. He was the biggest reason the Jackets were even in the game late. Moses Wright also had a great performance with 12-points, 14 rebounds, and six assists. 

However, it’s evident that the Jackets will need Michael Devoe to get going and break out this slump soon. He’s struggled mightily in the last two games, scoring a total of seven points on 3-of-17 shooting. While you can’t say for certain the Jackets would’ve won either game with better performances from Devoe, the arguments in favor of such are pretty strong.

The loss to Duke on Tuesday certainly does not help the Jackets odds when it comes to the NCAA Tournament later this season. They’ll have to go on quite the run here in the remainder of the regular season and ACC Tournament to stand a chance. Unfortunately, that will start against another tough opponent in Florida State on Saturday. The Jackets faced the Seminoles last month, falling 74-61 in Tallahassee.