ATLANTA -- If there is ever a good time for Georgia Tech to play Duke, this may be it.
In spite of the fact that Georgia Tech might still be without starting point guard and leading scorer Trae Golden for Tuesdays 9 p.m. game at McCamish Pavilion, the Yellow Jackets are getting Duke at perhaps its most vulnerable spot on the schedule. The eighth-ranked Blue Devils are playing the second of four games over an eight-day stretch that continues on Thursday against rival North Carolina and Saturday against No. 1 Syracuse.
I think (Georgia Tech) is good. Theyre playing well, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Theyre a really good team and thats how were preparing for them.
Like many other teams in the ACC, Georgia Tech has struggled again Duke. Georgia Techs last victory in the series came on Jan. 9, 2010, when the Yellow Jackets were ranked 20th and beat the fifth-ranked Blue Devils 71-67 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Since 1997, Georgia Tech is 3-30 against Duke.
Weve got a big challenge this week with a top-10 team coming into McCamish Pavilion, Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. Were going to continue to try and get a little better and them back in rhythm. Its going to take a little while before they feel comfortable. I hope we take those steps this week.
Georgia Tech will have forward Robert Carter Jr. back for the third game since his return from missing 10 games with meniscus surgery. He had 10 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes against Boston College and seemed closer to form. Gregory said it will be a while before fans can expect to see Carter back to the point he was before the injury.
He showed a much higher comfort level against Boston College, Gregory said. Still, you cant miss seven weeks and be back in seven days playing at that level. Hes probably a week away. We feel good about where hes at, but hes not where he was.
Krzyzewski said Carters injury did give other players a chance to step up, get more playing time and add to the teams depth.
Its obvious they missed Carter, Krzyzewski said. Hes one of the more talented guys in our league.
While Carter has returned, Georgia Tech might not get Golden back from the groin injury that has forced him to miss two of the past three games.
Golden, who averages 13.4 points, played 18 scoreless minutes against Virginia after suffering the injury against Wake Forest on Feb. 1. Gregory said that Golden remains questionable for the Duke game.
Hes feeling better, but a groin injury is tricky, Gregory said. You never know when its 100 percent and when hell be ready to play with explosiveness. He could play now, but not at the level we need him.
To have a chance against Duke, Georgia Tech will again depend heavily on center Daniel Miller (11.4 points, 7.7 rebounds) and forward Marcus Georges-Hunt (12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds), who made the winning basket at the buzzer against Boston College.
Duke is led by freshman Jabari Parker, who averages 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds, while Rodney Hood (16.3 points) and Quinn Cook (12.2 points) round out an offense that averages 81.7 points. Hood scored 27 points against the Yellow Jackets in the first meeting this season, a 79-57 Duke victory on Jan. 7.