Powerful early and poised late, fourth-ranked Georgia Tech defeated No. 2 Duke, 87-80, tonight in an Atlantic Coast Conference basketball game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets' victory, their 15th straight, left them atop the ACC at 5-0, a half-game ahead of top-rated North Carolina, and set up a duel for first place when Georgia Tech visits Chapel Hill Saturday.
Before 7,126, the taller, stronger Yellow Jackets (16-1) pounded the Blue Devils (16-2, 4-2 in the ACC) underneath, outrebounding Duke by 34-29 and scoring 17 of their first 21 baskets inside the lane. But not until guard Mark Price began hitting from the perimeter midway through the second half did the Yellow Jackets build the lead they would nurse to the end.
After Duke forward Mark Alarie, who finished with 26 points to lead all scorers, made a 16-footer with 12 minutes to play to tie the game at 49, Price scored the Yellow Jackets' next six points, sinking two long jump shots and two free throws to give them a 55-51 lead.
Then reserve guard Craig Neal made a 14-footer and guard Bruce Dalrymple -- who combined with Price for 46 points -- scored on a fast break to make it 59-53. With 9:11 left, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski called time out, but his Blue Devils would get no closer than four points the rest of the game.
Alarie almost singlehandedly kept the Blue Devils within hailing distance, scoring 18 second-half points. And Duke guard Johnny Dawkins, outplayed by Dalrymple most of the game, finally came alive at the end, scoring nine points in two minutes to chop what had been a 74-63 deficit with 3:21 to play to 76-72 with 1:14 to play.
But with time flying and Duke forced to foul, the Yellow Jackets simply stepped to the line and made free throw upon free throw, 27 of 33 overall, 13 straight in the final five minutes.
"This was a gutty, gutty performance," said Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins. "I cannot say enough about Price and Dalrymple."
Indeed, the Yellow Jackets entered the game worried that their guards, both of whom had missed practice Sunday and Monday, wouldn't be able to keep up with the fleet Dawkins and Tommy Amaker. But Price and Dalrymple did more than keep up -- they outplayed the Duke guards decisively.
Price, visibly slowed by a sprained ankle, nonetheless scored 25 points, and Dalrymple, hobbling on a bruised thigh, scored 21 points, grabbed six rebounds and had five assists and four steals. Dawkins finished with 17 points; Amaker had eight.
"Dalrymple really set the tone for them," Krzyzewski said. "I know Mark hit all those free throws at the end and played really well, but if I had to pick one guy, I thought Dalrymple got the whole thing started -- knocking balls free, getting loose balls."
The Yellow Jackets led, 41-37, at the half, a margin built on inside power and Dalrymple's post-up moves against Dawkins. "It wasn't anything set," Dalrymple said. "They were denying the ball outside, so I just kept moving."
And the Yellow Jackets, no fools, kept giving him the ball underneath. He scored 11 first-half points, all five of his baskets coming in the lane.
"With Mark and Bruce hurting," said center John Salley, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, "we knew we'd have to do a lot more banging tonight. And we did." Kansas 98, Oklahoma 92
Sophomore Danny Manning sparked an early second-half burst in Lawrence, Kan., as the seventh-ranked Jayhawks handed the fifth-ranked Sooners their first loss of the season in a Big Eight game.
Darryl Kennedy's basket with 44 seconds left brought the Sooners within 94-92 before two free throws by Mark Turgeon and Cedric Hunter's dunk clinched it for Kansas (17-2).
Manning led Kansas with 24 points. David Johnson scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half for Oklahoma (17-1). Alabama-Birmingham 75, Jacksonville 67
Steve Mitchell scored 22 points as the 18th-ranked Blazers won the Sun Belt game at home.
UAB (17-4, 5-1) ended a two-game losing streak. Jacksonville (11-6, 2-2) was led by Otis Smith with 29 points. Connecticut 82, Seton Hall 70:
Reserves Eddie Williams and Jeff King scored 14 points each to lead Connecticut (10-5, 2-4) over visiting Seton Hall (9-10, 0-6) in a Big East game.