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January 10, 2007

Duke stung on the road by Jackets

Even on a night when Georgia Tech turned the ball over 28 times, Duke couldn't overcome its own offensive woes and the Yellow Jackets' three point shooting as the Blue Devils fell to 0-2 in the ACC with a 74-63 loss in Atlanta Wednesday.

Duke hit just 4-of-20 from three point range as the offense continued its struggle to find any consistent continuity.

While Georgia Tech did plenty of damage from the perimeter by nailing 7-of-12 three pointers, it was a big man in the middle that initially turned the game in the Yellow Jackets' favor.

After Duke sprinted out to a 10-2 lead on the strength of a pair of long range shots by Jon Scheyer, Georgia Tech began hammering the ball inside to Ra'Sean Dickey, and the 6-10 junior took the game over in the middle portion of the first half.

Dickey scored the first 10 points of the game for Georgia Tech and was the key force in a 20-5 run that gave the Jackets a 22-15 lead with 10:00 to go in the opening half.

Were it not for Georgia Tech's struggles to handle the ball, things might have been much worse for the Blue Devils, who had a miserable half offensively after their early surge.

Duke clawed its way back within two at 25-23 three minutes later and trailed just 34-29 thanks to 14 points that came off Georgia Tech turnovers.

Josh McRoberts scored 12 points and made some key plays early in the second half to help Duke stay afloat, and the Blue Devils had an extended stretch of very good play that had them in position to pull out a win late in the game.

Facing a 10 point deficit with 8:30 left in the game, Duke's defense put the clamps on, holding the Jackets scoreless for nearly five minutes of action, allowing the offense enough time to close the gap substantially.

Jon Scheyer score six of Duke's eight points in an 8-0 spurt to climb within two at 55-53, but the search for an additional key basket to get over the hump came up empty.

The 55-53 score held steady for the next four possessions, but Duke couldn't put the ball in the basket on any of them, turning the ball over three times and missing one jumper.

In the final 3:30, the Yellow Jackets finally forced the tempo up to their desired level, and three straight breakaway baskets pushed the lead out to nine points at 62-53.

Duke would never get closer than six points the rest of the night, and the Blue Devils fell to 0-2 in the conference for the first time since 1996.

Duke played without Martynas Pocius, who is nursing a sprained ankle according to coach Mike Krzyzewski, but its doubtful his presence would have made a difference.

Duke turned the ball over 17 times and could only get to the foul line 11 times, far below the season average which was 24.26 prior to Wednesday's loss.

Georgia Tech compensated for its turnover problems by getting hot from the three point line. The Yellow Jackets got a trio of treys from Anthony Morrow off the bench and 19 points overall from the guard who missed all of preseason with a back injury.

Scheyer led Duke with 16 points, while DeMarcus Nelson tallied 12 in the defeat.

Point guard Greg Paulus, the subject of most of the talk following Saturday's loss to Virginia Tech, did not start against Georgia Tech, but still played 29 minutes, scored six points and handed out three assists to counter his three turnovers.

Duke will try to stop the bleeding Sunday evening when the cellar dwelling Devils travel to Coral Gables, Fla. to face Miami.


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