AP

No. 2 Duke returns from COVID-19 outbreak, tops Georgia Tech

Jan 4, 2022, 6:29 AM | Updated: Jan 5, 2022, 2:06 am

Duke forward Paolo Banchero (5) holds the ball against Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe during the ...

Duke forward Paolo Banchero (5) holds the ball against Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Mike Krzyzewski could sense his Duke players were battling fatigue by halftime in the second-ranked Blue Devils’ return from a COVID-19 outbreak. So he kept the message simple.

“I said, ‘I know you guys are tired,” he said. “‘But you cannot be tired on the defensive end.”

The approach worked, with the Blue Devils holding Georgia Tech to 33% shooting while grinding out a 69-57 win on Tuesday night in their first game in nearly two weeks.

Freshman Paolo Banchero had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils (12-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won despite shooting season-low 37.3%. But Duke held the Yellow Jackets (6-7, 0-3) to 33% while dominating the glass (48-35) to get extra looks behind Banchero and Mark Williams (10 points, 14 rebounds).

It was never easy. Duke led by 15 midway through the second half but struggled to put this one away, with the Yellow Jackets twice cutting the deficit to six in the final 4 1/2 minutes.

Still, Duke came up with answers — namely a vicious throwdown slam from AJ Griffin, a contested 3 from fellow freshman Trevor Keels and multiple late free throws — to stay in front.

“We all had to get our legs back,” Banchero said. “Some of us didn’t feel too good coming into the game. But we had to grind it out and get a win.”

ACC-leading scorer Michael Devoe finished on his average with 21 points for Georgia Tech. All but five came in the final 11-plus minutes, including the 3-pointer and driving score that twice brought the Yellow Jackets within six — the last time at 58-52 with 3:18 left.

The Yellow Jackets shot just 8 of 32 by halftime (25%) and finished at 33%.

“Duke’s good enough to win the national championship,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “I was really proud of our young men, they competed, they battled.”

The Blue Devils hadn’t played since beating Virginia Tech in their ACC opener Dec. 22. League games at Clemson and Notre Dame were postponed with Krzyzewski saying cases had gone through “just about our whole team” from players to staffers.

“To be able to be out and get to play again, you don’t take it for granted anymore,” said Griffin, who had 12 points off the bench. “It just gave me flashbacks about COVID, like when it first started. I’m just happy it’s over now.”

BIG PICTURE

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets entered ranked in the bottom third of the league in both scoring (68.8 points) and shooting percentage (.448). Those troubles continued, with Georgia Tech at one point going 7 1/2 minutes without a basket in a stretch of 13 straight misses. The Yellow Jackets had offset some of those troubles by shooting 37.4% from behind the arc (fourth in the ACC), but they made just 6 of 20 in this one.

Duke: Krzyzewski said his team needs to get back into game shape, but that the Blue Devils also had to be careful to avoid “binge conditioning” with players risking injuries by pushing too hard to make up for lost time. That part could take a while, with challenges showing up in smaller details — like Moore throwing an entry pass for Williams to the wrong shoulder and out of bounds or Banchero bobbling away an easy pass late in the first half for an unforced over-and-back turnover near midcourt.

“I’ve never gone through anything like this,” the retiring Hall of Famer said. “So I’m learning as I’m doing it. … We’re not close to being the team we were before the break. But we can be.”

TRADING WORDS

There was an awkward second-half moment when Devoe pointed to Krzyzewski and said something as the coach called a timeout. Krzyzewski talked back to Devoe and followed him out near halfcourt as teams returned to their benches.

Afterward, Pastner said he didn’t know the specifics but would talk to Devoe.

“You can’t do that, no matter what the situation is,” he said. “No player should ever talk to an opposing coach. … I know Michael Devoe has nothing but the highest level of respect for Coach K.”

FAMILIAR FACE

Pastner said he had hoped to have former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins sit on the bench in a bit of a reunion with Krzyzewski after the two had coached against each other through the 1980s and 1990s. But Cremins was unable to attend due to an ailment. Pastner said he got compliance approval to do it.

DISPARITY

Duke made 26 of 40 free throws. Georgia Tech got to the line just 12 times, making nine.

QUOTABLE

“Every one says it’s a farewell tour. We got detoured here.” — Krzyzewski on the COVID-19 postponements in his final season.

UP NEXT

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets host Notre Dame on Saturday.

Duke: The Blue Devils host Miami on Saturday.

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

No. 2 Duke returns from COVID-19 outbreak, tops Georgia Tech