DURHAM — After a uninspired first half, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski could tell that his team needed energy.
So, he did his best to manufacture some.
"We seemed dead," Krzyzewski said. "We didnt have the life that we normally have."
Waiving his arms to urge on the crowd, his team, anyone in blue and white, really, Krzyzewski got his desired result, as the Blue Devils showed signs of life to open the second half. That initial burst gave Duke a cushion it would not relinquish in the 79-57 victory.
Playing its first game outside the top 10 since Nov. 2007, the No. 16 Blue Devils (12-3) came out flat, on both ends of the floor, in the first 20 minutes, entering the break with a one-point lead. But, with Krzyzewskis urging, Jabari Parker drew a foul on a jump shot, Rasheed Sulaimon converted one of his own, Quinn Cook hit a 3 and Parker put back his own miss, forcing a Georgia Tech timeout to stop a 9-2 Duke run. The Blue Devils were up 43-35, and the Yellow Jackets would not close the gap to fewer than five points the rest of the way.
Quinn Cook also noted the lack of energy in the first half, and he, too, attributed to spark to Krzyzewski.
"Coach K got on us at halftime, and we responded," Cook said. "Weve gotten that before, but coming off a loss, were supposed to be out there jumping, and I think we did that for the first couple possessions, then we let go. Weve got to keep going for 40 minutes."
Midway through the second half, Duke was up 60-50the same situation Saturday at Notre Dame before allowing the Fighting Irish a 20-4 run. This time, though, after the teams traded a string of empty possession, Rodney Hood hit back-to-back 3s, increasing the lead to 16. That was enough to bury the Yellow Jackets, who did not again cut the deficit to single digits. By the end of the game, the Blue Devils were smiling, exchanging chest-bumps and high fives, looking much more happy and relaxed.
Cook noted its a balancing act, keeping an edge and having funagainst ECU and Vermont, he said, the celebration started too early, and those teams came back. Keeping proper poise has been a work in progress, he said.
"Were getting better at it," he added.
Hood led the Blue Devils with 27 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor, including a 5-of-7 mark from long range. To end the game, he made four straight 3sa feat not seen since, well, Ryan Kelly against Miami last year.
Cook had 13 points and Jabari Parker 12, on a 4-of-12 shooting effort. In the past two games, Parker is now 6-of-22 (27.3 percent) from the floor. He struggled to guard Georgia Tech center Daniel Miller down in the post and was replaced several times after missed defensive assignments.
When asked if he was hitting a freshman wallthe college season is longer and more physical than anything the high school or AAU circuits offerParker said, "yeah, I think so."
"Its an experience I can learn from," Parker said. "It will get me stronger, to know that every game has to be important. I high school, you have certain games that you dont want to play."
Krzyzewski isnt worried about Parker, whom he acknowledged is probably playing out of position. If Duke had a viable bigger option for the post, Parker would play on the wing. But thats not the make-up of this years team, and Parker will continue to learn.
"Youve got to be optimistic," Parker said when asked about his struggles ending.
Based on what hes accomplished so far, theres no reason not to be.