Roshown McLeod scored 23 points as the top-ranked Blue Devils beat Georgia Tech 90-69 Sunday for its 11th straight win, setting up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup with the Tar Heels.
Thursday's meeting at Chapel Hill will be the first game between the nation's top ranked teams since Kentucky beat Massachusetts in the semifinals of the 1996 Final Four and the 14th 1-2 meeting since 1980.
"We don't want to get out of the things we've been doing well, and that's preparing for the next game," said McLeod, who was 8-for-11 from the field with eight rebounds. "On Friday night people are going to forget about the North Carolina matchup, they won't know who won the game.
"If we can go in with the same mind frame that will be a big jump for us."
The deep and talented Blue Devils (20-1, 9-0 ACC) are off to their best start in the Atlantic Coast Conference since starting 10-0 in the 1963-64 season under Vic Bubas.
"We're not concerned about Thursday today," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played eight players 12 or more minutes and two more eight each. "That's like an insult to us when we're asked (about being focused today) because that would be like us not giving respect to a really good basketball team."
"And the fact is each game is singular -- that's why they call it a game," he added. "We've going to play Thursday's game as hard as we possibly can. Not any different than any other game that we're played this year. If we play harder on Thursday than we have played then I'm not doing a good coaching job."
McLeod's pint total was two off his career high set earlier this season at Florida State, while Trajan Langdon added 17 as Duke moved to 74-8 under Krzyzewski when ranked No. 1.
Georgia Tech fell to (13-8, 2-6) and has lost its last four league games.
"Our biggest challenge now is to not fall apart," Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins said. "Losing in this league can do that to you."
"We are not out of this thing," Cremins added. "There are a lot of teams (in the league) with two or three (league) wins."
The Yellow Jackets were led by Dion Glover's 20 points and Matt Harpring's 19. However, Georgia Tech was forced to play more than half the game without Alvin Jones, the nation's second-leading shot blocker. He got three early fous and fouled out with 9:25 left.
Duke's first-half lead was trimmed to eight with 18:04 left. But the Blue Devils, whose offense was perimeter oriented in the opening half, went inside and to its fast-breaking attack in the second half during a decisive 16-5 run over the next five minutes.
"When you come in here and play a team like this, and you have the opening, you've got to get it," said Cremins, who said his team's 21 turnovers proved too costly. "We definitely had some openings where we could've made it interesting."
Backup point guard William Avery keyed the surge with three layups, while Langdon added a pair of fastbreak buckets for a 67-48 lead. The Yellow Jackets never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
"He had three or four minutes there where he created everything for us," Krzyzewski said of Avery.
Duke hit it's first thre 3-pointers to jump to a 9-0 lead and made 9 of 15 long-range shots in the opening 20 minutes to lead at the half for the 21st time this season.
The Blue Devils' first-half lead reached as many as 15 before the Yellow Jackets cut it to 10 on two occasions before Travis Spivey missed the front end of a one-and-one and Georgia Tech turned it over on three straight possessions.
McLeod then went to work, scoring on a 3-pointer, a follow shot and a free throw as Duke closed the half on top 51-37.
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