Duke and Georgia Tech are preparing for a key game and one side is demonstrating considerable late-season confidence.
Hello Georgia Tech.
"We know that we are a better team compared to Duke so ain't going to sugarcoat that," Yellow Jackets forward Moses Wright said of Tuesday's game. "... Senior Night, we're going to get the 'Dub.' We should have beat them at Cameron (Indoor Stadium). That hurt."
Tuesday night's matchup at Atlanta involves teams that played a spirited game in January. Some projections have both squads near the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Georgia Tech (13-8, 9-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) might be a team on the rise after winning four consecutive games for the second time this season.
"Think of where we started to where we are now," coach Josh Pastner said of his message to the team. "Look where we put ourselves. We've been able to fight through it."
There isn't such a rosy outlook coming from Duke (11-9, 9-7), which had a season-best four-game winning streak halted in Saturday night's 80-73 overtime home loss to Louisville.
"I would like a greater degree of intensity," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They just didn't understand the level they had to play at."
Krzyzewski said Duke's guards didn't adjust to the tone. They're bound to be challenged again by the Yellow Jackets' backcourt.
"We put ourselves in a position to win, but (against) very good teams, you have to do more than just put yourself in the position," Duke guard Wendell Moore Jr. said. "You have to come out with the win."
Duke has the ACC's leading scorer in forward Matthew Hurt, who's averaging 19.3 points per game.
Wright is fifth in the ACC at 17.5, while teammates Jose Alvarado (sixth at 16.0) and Michael Devoe (11th at 14.7) are also performing well. Wright has turned in three straight double-doubles, most recently matching his season best of 31 points and collecting 16 rebounds in Saturday 84-77 home win over Syracuse.
"Everything that I've been doing in practice is coming over to the game," Wright said.
Georgia Tech is three games above .500 in ACC play for the first time in 25 years (March 3, 1996).
"We've now learned how to win," Pastner said.
The Yellow Jackets have clinched a winning record in ACC regular-season play in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1989 and 1990.
"That's 30 years," Pastner said. "That's a great accomplishment for this program, for this team."
Georgia Tech has won 13 of its last 14 conference home games, including a 7-1 record this year.
Hurt's career-best 37 points against Louisville marked the sophomore's first game reaching 30 points and is the most by an ACC player this season. It's also the most for a Duke player since Grayson Allen's 37 vs. Michigan State in November 2017.
"He was scoring in a variety of ways," Krzyzewski said.
Hurt had 15 of Duke's 26 made field goals.
"It's a long season and it has been ups and downs," Hurt said. "But once we lose, we've just got to keep getting better, keep working at practice, games, everything -- just putting your head down and keep working."
Duke won 75-68 vs. Georgia Tech on Jan. 26, overcoming Alvarado's 26 points. Hurt was Duke's third-leading scorer that night with 17 points behind DJ Steward's 19 and Jalen Johnson's 18. Johnson has since opted to skip the rest of the season and enter the NBA Draft.
--Field Level Media