ATLANTA -- The next time Brian Gregory talks to his Georgia Tech players about great defense, he can use Tuesday’s game film as an example. There was little about Duke’s defense effort that wasn’t textbook.
It was so good that the defense even overshadowed a stellar night from Duke freshman Jabari Parker, who had his ninth double-double of the season in Duke’s 68-51 win over Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion.
Parker scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Blue Devils (21-5, 10-3 ACC) beat Georgia Tech for the 31st time in the past 34 meetings. Duke ran its overall winning streak to four games while earning its ninth victory in 10 games.
Even more impressive was the Duke defense, which forced 13 turnovers and converted them into 16 points and denied Georgia Tech’s attempts to get the ball in the paint.
“Our plan was to pressure the ball,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “It’s not like we felt we could take the ball away from them. We thought if they were occupied with our pressure they wouldn’t see the post as much.”
The strategy worked. Georgia Tech center Daniel Miller took only four shots and scored just two, nearly eight below his average.
“They came out very focused and played with great force and strength on the defensive end,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “They’ve really improved defensively since we played them in January. We weren’t able to execute in our area and that put us in a tough hole.”
Freshman guard Corey Heyward was victimized with four first-half turnovers. And even though guard Trae Golden was able to play 17 minutes, he was still wasn’t fully recovered from the groin injury that forced him to miss three starts.
It didn’t help that Parker appeared unstoppable in the first half, when he scored 10 points. He scored only 12 against Georgia Tech in the first meeting Jan. 7, a 79-57 Blue Devils win.
“He plays with such aggression that you know what he’s going to do when he gets the ball,” Gregory said. “He’s going to go, whether he gets it in the post or on the perimeter. He’s strong, and he’s explosive.”
Duke also got 14 points from forward Rodney Hood, who scored 27 in the first game against Georgia Tech. Guard Rasheed Sulaimon added 11 points.
Georgia Tech (13-13, 4-9) was led by forward Robert Carter Jr., who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Forward Kammeon Holsey added 12 points, and guard Chris Bolden scored 10 despite shooting 2-for-8 from the field.
Duke led comfortably throughout the second half. Georgia Tech made a rally to cut the Yellow Jackets' lead to 52-40 but got no closer after Hood drained his fourth 3-pointer. Parker applied the dagger minutes later when he blocked a shot and scored on an offensive rebound and was fouled. Suddenly, after Parker converted the foul shot, the lead was back to 18 points with 9:02 left.
“They were right in the game,” Krzyzewski said. “Then Parker made that three-point play.”
Gregory said, “We made four strong stops. We were just not able to get over the hump.”