Georgia Tech Basketball: Jackets hold on in 81-77 win over Duke

Mar 2, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Moses Wright (5) is defended by Duke Blue Devils center Mark Williams (15) in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets forward Moses Wright (5) is defended by Duke Blue Devils center Mark Williams (15) in the first half at McCamish Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Georgia Tech fans, you can finally exhale those breaths you were holding in on Tuesday night. Duke gave the Yellow Jackets legitimately everything they had but the Jackets were able to hold off the Blue Devils in an 81-77 win in overtime. A thrilling way for the Jackets to earn their first win over the Blue Devils since 2010.

The victory for the Yellow Jackets pushes their record on the season to 14-8 including 10-6 in conference play. The 10th ACC victory also means that for the very first time in the program’s 102 seasons of history, the Jackets have won double-digit ACC games in back-to-back seasons. Most importantly, the victory is a quality resume-boosting win for the Yellow Jackets in their efforts to make their first NCAA Tournament in over a decade. Though they still have work to do to ensure they do make The Big Dance later this month.

Tuesday night’s game between the Jackets and Blue Devils played out as expected for the most part. Both teams were playing with desperation, knowing their tournament hopes heavily relied on the game. It brought a ton of intensity and excitement to the game but at times it was also sloppy, with the two teams combining for 29 turnovers and 38 personal fouls in the game. It also meant that the game would come down to the wire.

After a first half that saw Duke take a 33-30 lead into halftime, the Jackets looked like the superior team in the second half and at one point looked like they were going to cruise to victory. With just under five minutes remaining, the Jackets led the Blue Devils 64-62. However, an absolute collapse by the Jackets was able to unfold. The Jackets in the final four and half minutes of the half were unable to do anything offensively while defensively, allowed Duke to get quality shot opportunities time and time again. The collapse was highlighted by Bubba Parham committing a foul on a three-point attempt by Joey Baker but also as time round down on the Jackets last possession, Jose Alvarado tried to take a three-pointer from well beyond the arch which ultimately was airballed. Both baffling decisions and plays by two seniors with tons of playing experience. The game simply should have never gotten to overtime.

In overtime, for a split second, it appeared that Duke may have mad just too much momentum and was going to complete the comeback to boost their own NCAA Tournament resume. However, the Jackets were able to go on a 6-0 run early in overtime, allowing them to claim a 70-66. That lead would eventually become 79-73 with 24 seconds remaining and once again, Duke just wouldn’t go away. A quick three-pointer made it 79-76 Georgia Tech before the Jackets would turn the ball over an inbound play and then foul, sending forward Patrick Tape to the line. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, after Tape made his first attempt, he poorly missed his second attempt (which he was supposed to miss on purpose but he just did it very poorly) and the Jackets would get the rebound. Michael Devoe would be sent to the line and finally put the game out of reach, securing an 81-77 victory.

The Yellow Jackets needed a full team effort in the victory and got just that, with four Jackets finishing with double-digit offensive efforts. Moses Wright led the way with 29 points in the win including 18 in the second half and overtime. He also finished with 14 rebounds and five assists, the double-digit points, and rebounds gave him his fourth-straight double-double and his seventh overall on the season.

Senior guard Jose Alvarado had an extremely gutsy effort as he reportedly was struggling with a hamstring injury. In the first half, he took just two shots while playing the full 20 minutes of the half and finished the half with zero points. But in the second half and overtime, he’d step up, scoring 10-points to go along with his four rebounds and three assists. Outside his poor shot selection at the end of the second half, it was a highly admirable game from Alvarado, playing all 45 minutes on a bad hamstring, showing why he has been the Jackets leader for almost his entire time while on The Flats and will go down as one of the greatest in program history.

Additionally, Michael Devoe scored 15 points in the victory and brought down seven rebounds while Jordan Usher contributed 14 points himself. Off the bench, Khalid Moore and Kyle Sturdivant were the only two to score, Moore totaled seven points and six rebounds while Sturdivant finished his effort with six points in five minutes.

With the victory, the Jackets added another huge resume booster to their NCAA Tournament resume and have certainly gotten closer to inking their spot in the Big Dance later this month. They’ll still have to take care of business in their regular season final against Wake Forest and made a quality run in the ACC Tournament but as it stands right now, the Jackets look poised to make their first tournament appearance in over a decade.

The Yellow Jackets will finish off their regular season on Friday night. Tip-off is currently scheduled for 5:00 p.m. from LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem.