No Marvin Bagley III? No problem.
The Duke freshman forward, who’s the Blue Devils’ leading scorer (21.2 ppg) and rebounder (11.4 rpg), missed Sunday’s game against Georgia Tech with a right knee sprain.
But Duke got along just fine without him. The Blue Devils raced out to a 17-point halftime lead, holding off a Yellow Jackets’ comeback attempt late in the second half, to win 80-69 in Atlanta.
With the win, Duke (20-4, 8-4 ACC) snapped a two-game losing streak, after suffering loses at St. John’s on Feb. 3 and UNC on Feb. 8.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski switched up his starting lineup Sunday for the first time in 23 games. Against Georgia Tech, Duke freshman point guard Trevon Duval, who has struggled in recent games, did not start for the first time this season. Freshman guard Alex O’Connell started in his place.
It was Duke’s game from the start. The Blue Devils opened the first half with a 16-6 run, with senior guard Grayson Allen scoring 10 of those 16 points. Without Bagley, Allen was a lot more aggressive scoring, even while playing point guard.
Allen finished with game with a team-high 23 points.
After leading 43-26 at halftime, Duke started the second half on a 10-1 run.
But Georgia Tech (11-14, 4-8) never gave up, engineering a 15-2 run during a four minute stretch midway through the second half. The Yellow Jackets closed the lead to 12 points, after a put back dunk by Raleigh native Moses Wright with 7:05 left to play.
Krzyzewski called a timeout to calm down his team. After the timeout, Duval knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner. And Georgia Tech never got closer than nine points.
The Blue Devils pressed and ran different zone defenses for the majority of the game. However, it was more effective in the first half than it was in the second. The Yellow Jackets finished the game shooting 33 percent from the floor.
Freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr., who is from Atlanta, finished the game with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
O’Connell, who is from Roswell, Ga., finished with 3 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Duke’s next game will be against Virginia Tech at home on Wednesday.