Duke basketball finally flexes its muscle. Blue Devils rout Georgia Tech in ACC road win

After so many stressful games, some tight finishes that went Duke’s way this month and others that didn’t, the Blue Devils put everything together to enjoy a relaxing win on Saturday.

Duke shot a season-best 55.7%, nailed nine 3-pointers, and played its usual stifling defense to pound Georgia Tech, 86-43, in ACC basketball at McCamish Pavilion.

The same Duke team that went five games in a row earlier this month without hitting 41% of its shots hit 56% of its shots over the first 27 minutes of Saturday’s game to open a 62-28 lead.

Kyle Filipowski scored 18 points to lead five Duke players in double figures. Jeremy Roach added 12 points and Mark Mitchell 11 while Ryan Young and Jacob Grandison scored 10 points each for the Blue Devils (15-6, 6-4 ACC).

After losing 78-75 at Virginia Tech on Monday, two days after eking out a 68-66 home win over Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils took an 18-point halftime lead over Georgia Tech. Duke scored the first six points after halftime to open a 49-25 lead and rolled from there.

The Blue Devils did all that without 6-7 freshman Dariq Whitehead, who had started the previous five games before suffering a strain to his lower left leg at Virginia Tech. Whitehead was not in uniform for the Georgia Tech game, but was on the court during early parts of pregame warmups, showing his return is not far away.

Roach, who missed three games earlier this month with a toe injury to his right foot, returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench the last two games. He hit his first two 3-pointers to key Duke’s opening flourish.

Dereck Lively, Duke’s 7-1 freshman center, started for the first time time since Jan. 4 to produce nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-10) shot just 30.9 percent while tallying a mere 12 points in the paint due to Duke’s intimidating height advantage.

Duke hit Georgia Tech with an early flurry of 3-pointers to move in front and kept its offense strong to build a 43-25 halftime lead.

The Blue Devils hit 4 of their first 6 3-point attempts, with Roach hitting two and Filipowski and Lively one each as Duke took a 19-9 lead less than eight minutes into the game.

Georgia Tech’s inability to get open looks inside against Duke’s defensive length prevented the Yellow Jackets from mounting a serious push after that.

The Blue Devils led 22-16 when they scored seven points in a row on a Tyrese Proctor 3-pointer, a Proctor basket following a Lively offensive rebound and a Filipowski basket in the lane.

Leading 30-23, Duke closed the first half on a 13-2 run. Five of the baskets came inside by either Filipowski or Young. Grandison added a 3-pointer as the Blue Devils took an 18-point lead to intermission.

Duke hit 15 of 31 shots (48.3%) in the first half, including 6 of 13 3-pointers. Georgia Tech had just six points in the paint while shooting 34.4% over the game’s first 20 minutes.