ATLANTA - The Peach State got its first taste of the 2001-02 Duke Blue Devils on Saturday, and the defending NCAA champions left no doubt that they should be back in April.
Jason Williams scored 28 points and Mike Dunleavy 23 as top-ranked Duke shot 55.6 percent from the floor, including 13 of 24 from 3-point range, to rout Georgia Tech 95-63 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Duke (22-1, 10-1 ACC) beat Georgia Tech for the 12th consecutive time. The 32-point spread was just above the 30-point average margin of the four meetings since Paul Hewitt took over the Jackets.
"I guess people saw another reason why they're No. 1," Hewitt said.
Energized by a three-game winning streak that led Krzyzewski to pinpoint Georgia Tech as the most improved team in the ACC, the Yellow Jackets (10-14, 3-8) hung tough with the nation's top-ranked team through the first 12 minutes.
A 7-0 run drew Georgia Tech to 28-27 and sent the capacity crowd of 9,335 into a frenzy.
The frenzy didn't last. Georgia Tech made only 2 of 11 field goals and 2 of 6 free throws the rest of the half as Duke methodically constructed a 20-7 run to take a 48-34 lead into halftime.
It got worse. Much worse. The Blue Devils removed any semblance of competitiveness by hitting 13 of their first 17 shots in the second half to build the lead to 35.
"Our execution in the second half was incredible," Krzyzewski said. "They missed some shots that could have gone in and then we just hit everything. That knocks you back. We were incredibly efficient during that period of time."
Hewitt could do nothing but concur. "They really deflated us early in the second half the way they shot the ball," he said. "I'm not going to tolerate that, but at the same time you do have to recognize when you're playing against an outstanding team."
Duke looked every bit like a repeat NCAA champion in the second half behind the near flawless shooting of Williams and Dunleavy. The double-barrel shooters finished the game with identical numbers from the floor - 8 of 12 field goals each including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Both were perfect from the free-throw line as well, with Williams earning game-high scoring honors with five extra opportunities from the line.
"When they shoot the ball like that, they're a handful," Hewitt said.
It's even more of a handful when you shoot as poorly as Georgia Tech. After a season-high 51-percent shooting performance against Clemson, the Jackets posted their second-worst shooting effort Saturday - 22 of 62 (35.5 percent). Tony Akins, the ACC's top 3-point shooter, went 3-of-11 including 0-for-4 from 3-point range. Only Ed Nelson, who scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, held his own against Duke.
"They just kept putting it on us," Nelson said. "We lost a little bit of effort."
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219.
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