5:00 PM ET, January 31, 2004
McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Georgia
ATLANTA (AP) -- The place was rocking. Georgia Tech hasn't been this fired up for a basketball game since Bobby Cremins' glory days.But when the clock ran out at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, the result was numbingly familiar.Duke still rules the Yellow Jackets.Freshman Luol Deng scored a career-high 22 points and the No. 1 Blue Devils extended their winning streak to 15 games with an 82-74 victory over Georgia Tech (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) on Saturday.The Yellow Jackets haven't beaten Duke since 1996, their losing streak now at 15 in a row."Our students were great and we had a loud building," coach Paul Hewitt said. "They gave us a really big lift at the beginning of the game. I just wish we could have given them more at the end."Duke (18-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) went ahead for good on Deng's free throw with 3:13 remaining. He missed the second attempt, but Shavlik Randolph got the rebound and passed outside to J.J. Redick, who buried the 3-pointer for a 72-68 lead.B.J. Elder made a couple of free throws with 2:52 left to get Georgia Tech (16-4, 4-3) within a basket, but the Yellow Jackets missed their next five shots. Duke pulled away when Daniel Ewing made a 3 and Randolph dunked off a bullet pass from Chris Duhon.Just another day at the office for the Blue Devils."Wherever we play, it's not a dull game," said coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team was coming off a victory against Florida State less than 48 hours earlier. "Good players want to play in that sort of atmosphere. They're not intimidated. They use it as a way to play at a higher level."Duke has dominated the series against Georgia Tech in recent years, winning 15 straight. Most of the games weren't even close -- the Blue Devils' average winning margin before Saturday was 23 points.The Yellow Jackets have closed the gap, but they still can't solve their Duke curse."I don't think it's a mental factor," said Jarrett Jack, who led Georgia Tech with 19 points. "They've just had some phenomenal teams: Jay Williams, Shane Battier, all those guys."Georgia Tech had beaten a No. 1 team this season, routing Connecticut in the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden. That game signaled a change in fortunes for the Yellow Jackets, who have made the NCAA tournament only once in the past seven seasons.With Duke coming to town, Georgia Tech was buzzing with the sort of excitement that had not been seen since Cremins' coaching heyday in the 1980s and early '90s. Hundreds of students camped overnight outside Alexander Memorial Coliseum, hoping to land a coveted spot inside the 9,191-seat arena.The game lived up to the hype, with NCAA-like intensity, numerous changes in momentum and a near-brawl in the first half.Georgia Tech raced to a quick 11-point lead, then found itself behind 43-32 in the opening minute of the second half. The Yellow Jackets caught up when Luke Schenscher converted a three-point play with 7:17 remaining, putting his team ahead 62-61.But Duke didn't fall victim on a day of upsets in the Top 25 -- eight teams lost to unranked opponents.Deng eclipsed his career high of 21, set in November against Detroit, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Shelden Williams came up big in the first half, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ewing hit three shots from beyond the 3-point arc, as did Redick.Five players were in double figures for the Blue Devils."The thing we displayed was heart," Randolph said. "We were tired, but we were mentally tough."Georgia Tech was leading 17-10 when a scuffle occurred in front of its bench with 11:06 remaining in the first half.Redick fell on his back and was called out of bounds. Elder tried to snatch the ball away and got into a tussle with the Duke player. Robert Brooks came off the bench and shoved Redick, then got into it with Ewing, who shouted, "You want a piece of me?"Order was restored without any punches being thrown, but Brooks was ejected and four technicals were called."It was one of those things that happen in the heat of battle," Redick said.It fired up the Blue Devils, who scored the next 11 points for a 21-17 lead. It helped that Schenscher picked up his second foul with 10:40 remaining, sending the 7-foot-1 Australian to the bench.Duke took advantage of the Yellow Jackets' shortcomings on the inside. Williams scored six points during the spurt -- including a pair of dunks -- and Deng laid the ball in off a perfect lob by Duhon.The Blue Devils led 37-32 at the break and forced Georgia Tech to call a timeout less than a minute into the second half. Deng dunked and Ewing connected on a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game.Georgia Tech didn't help itself at the foul line, making only 15 of 25. And Elder couldn't follow up a career-high 36 points earlier in the week against Clemson, the most by a Georgia Tech player in 10 seasons.Elder fouled out after scoring just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting.Schenscher carried a big load with 18 points. Will Bynum added 13 but was only 4-of-16 from the field, a missed layup in the final minute epitomizing his day.
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