Georgia Tech

Oliver could return Saturday

Georgia Tech guard Brian Oliver, who has missed the last four games with a broken thumb, could return to the floor as soon as Saturday, head coach Paul Hewitt said Monday morning.

The 6-foot-6 combo guard/forward went down two weeks ago after breaking the finger on his non-shooting left hand while going for a rebound against Clemson. The fracture happened early in the game, Oliver said, but he continued to play through it. Four days later, he went into surgery to have a pin inserted to hold the bone together.

The Yellow Jackets (11-15, 3-9 ACC) travel to North Carolina State on Saturday.

"He's going to be reexamined (Tuesday) and they're going to make a decision on whether to take out the wires that they have in there," Hewitt said on Monday's ACC coaches' teleconference. "The break apparently is in a very delicate spot. If he's healed properly, they could splint him so he could come back out."

Without Oliver's presence as a scorer -- he was Tech's third-highest scorer before going down -- the Jackets have lost three of the four games he has missed, including Sunday night's contest at Duke.

When asked about whether or not Oliver's absence has hurt his team over that stretch, Hewitt said it had on multiple fronts.

"He's a threat offensively, he's had some big 3-point shooting games for us, but also he's a physical threat for us around the basket," Hewitt said. "Where we've missed him the most has been on the boards, actually. I didn't think I would say that.

"Since he's been out, people have really been hitting us on the boards. In (Sunday night's) game in particular, we gave up 16 second-chance points so in addition to losing him and the threat he provides offensively, just his physical presence and not having him to box out has really been something that has stood out."

Oliver's injury originally had him targeted for a two- or three-week return. If he returns by Saturday, he'll be able to play the final three games of the regular season before next month's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.