The Duke Blue Devils will travel to Atlanta, Georgia to take on Georgia Tech in an ACC matchup. Duke will look to remain unbeaten in conference play. Georgia Tech will look to build on their surprising 96-83 win against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
TV Schedule: January 8th, 2020 / 9:00 PM EST / ACC Network
Location: McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia
The feeling around the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team was one of elation after their latest win against Miami. That feeling quickly changed when it was announced freshman forward Wendell Moore Jr., will be out indefinitely after hand surgery. Moore brings the Blue Devils 7.4 points per game, 4 rebounds per game. It’s concerning because Duke has experienced a rash of injuries with Tre Jones and Cassius Stanley also missing time.
Forwards Joey Baker and Javin DeLaurier could see increased minutes with Moore Jr., missing time. Baker and DeLaurier are averaging 14.7 and 13.9 minutes per game respectively. The expectation is that the number increases to around 20 minutes per game for each player with depth making up the remaining minutes. With Baker on the floor, the Devils become more potent from three. Baker is hitting 41.5% of his 2.9 attempts per game. The hope is with more minutes under Baker’s belt, he will be more assertive in his shot taking and provide the Blue Devils with another three-point shooter. Baker’s time to prove himself is right now with Moore Jr., out indefinitely.
Head Coach Josh Pastner and his Georgia Tech team are trying to find some consistency. After starting the season 4-2, Georgia Tech dropped four of its next five before stunning the North Carolina Tar Heels in North Carolina. In that game, the Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels without a made field goal on their first fifteen attempts. Although Georgia Tech won by 13, for much of the game the margin was a lot deeper.
In the UNC game, Georgia Tech shot lights out. The Yellow Jackets shot 63.8% from inside three-point range and 42.9% from three-point range. They were led by Moses Wright (22 points, 7 rebounds) and Jose Alvarado (25 points, 8 assists and 6 steals). Alvarado has been a defensive stalwart for the Yellow Jackets since arriving at Georgia Tech two seasons ago. Alvarado, in his first two seasons of college basketball, ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in steals per game and ranked in the top 15 in total steals in the ACC. His confidence, on both ends of the court, must be at an all-time high. Alvarado needs to be able to translate that confidence into production on the court as he did against the Tar Heels.
Moses Wright is having a career year in his junior season. He is averaging career highs in minutes per game, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds, blocks, and points per game. Although Wright played a game-high 38 minutes against UNC, the Yellow Jackets may need the same playing time and production from Wright in their upcoming game. It will be a difficult level of playing time to uphold but it might be a requirement. Georgia Tech played four bench players against UNC in a blow out win but only two of those players reached double-digit minutes.
Georgia Tech cannot hang with Duke if they only have six players reaching double-digit minutes per game. The Duke Blue Devils will run them up and down the court making any conditioning a moot point. Josh Pastner needs to open up his bench a little bit to give Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado strategic rest if they want to keep up with Duke. Duke will exploit the Yellow Jackets’ lack of depth. More importantly, we should see who will replace the minutes left behind by Wendell Moore Jr.’s indefinite absence.
Prediction: Duke 87, Georgia Tech 67