Duke's Tuesday night opponent has battled injuries, but poses some unique challenges in the paint with the return of their starting power forward.
F- 03 Marcus Georges-Hunt (12.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
F- 24 Kammeon Holsey (7.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
C- 05 Daniel Miller (11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
G- 30 Corey Heyward (1.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
G- 11 Chris Bolden (5.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
?Marcus Georges-Hunt is the team's second leading scorer and fourth best rebounder, and the load he carries has only increased with the team's leading scorer, Trae Golden missing two of the team's last three games. Last time against Duke he was Tech's most efficient player, scoring 18 points (8-of-12 shooting) and grabbing four rebounds. Over the past six contests he's averaged 15.5 points per night, and in Thursday night's win over Boston College he scored Tech's last eight points and hit the game-winning three-point basket while being fouled. He converted the four-point play and finished with 15 points.
The game on Tuesday night will be the 91st meeting between Duke and Georgia Tech, with Duke holding a 67-23 series advantage. Earlier this season the Blue Devils led by just one at halftime before pulling away for an easy 79-57 victory in Cameron Indoor Stadium. That win was Duke's sixth straight in the series and dropped Tech head coach Brian Gregory to 0-3 against the Blue Devils. In games played at Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils own a 25-15 advantage, but Duke has struggled in true road games this season, posting just a 3-3 record.
Interestingly enough, the Blue Devils are making their debut at Tech's true home court, McCamish Pavilion. The last time Duke came to Atlanta was during the 2011-2012 season, with the game being played at the Atlanta Hawks' Philips Arena.
The Yellow Jackets recently got some good news as big man Robert Carter, Jr. has returned from a knee injury that cost him the first 10 ACC games. Carter played 16 minutes (5 points, 2-7 FG, 2 rebounds) against Vir- ginia and 24 minutes against Boston College (10 points, 5-7 FG, 5 rebounds).
On the flip side of the injury coin, the Yellow Jackets have lost Jason Morris for the year after he broke a bike in his right foot on January 29th against North Carolina. He scored five points in the first meeting between Duke and Tech.
The injury bug has been biting quite frequently in Atlanta this season, and the Yellow Jackets have been deeply affected. After beginning the season with 12 scholarship players, Georgia Tech has played much of the ACC schedules with as many as five of those due to injury and/or illness. The most recent injury occured with Trae Golden, who injured a groin Jan. 29 against North Carolina. He has missed two of Tech's last three games and played just 18 minutes against Virginia and six against Wake Forest.
Against Duke the most successful teams have established an inside game early. The Yellow Jackets have that ability in the form of fifth year senior Daniel Miller (6'11, 275). Miller was effective against Duke last time, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 32 minutes - both above his ACC averages of 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Though he doesn't meet the ACC statistical requirement in field goal attempts for the season, the fifth year senior is leading the ACC in conference games only at 57.5 percent shooting. He is the ACC's active career rebound leader with 756.
Miller ranks No. 2 in the ACC in blocked shots in all games (2.40) and No. 1 in ACC games (2.90). He had six against Virginia, a personal best for an ACC game and one off his career high.
Coach K was certainly impressed with Miller after the last game, saying: "People who just say he's a big man are mis- taken. He's very mobile. He can put the ball on the floor. Obviously he can score with his back to the basket, but he can face the basket. He can pass, he runs well. He's one of the best shot blockers. He's a product of being a senior, going through and being well-coached each year. He's improved each year to where, now, he's going to be a professional player when his career is all over because of his versatility"
Joining Miller in the paint will be Carter, who was leading the ACC in rebounding at 9.3 per game before injuring his knee. Carter will certainly take some of the burden off Miller, and will cause Duke a number of matchup problems as well. With Carter back in the fold, the Yellow Jackets find themselves a much more formidable group. On the season Tech is 10-5 in games that Carter plays in. In those 15 games the Yellow Jackets average seven more points, hold opponents to four fewer points, shoot better from the field (44.5 vs. 42.8), hold opponents to a worse shooting percentage (39.6 vs. 44.9), and average a full seven more rebounds per game.
Though they aren't going to set any records, the Yellow Jackets have improved at the charity stripe this season relative to Gregory's first team years in Atlanta. The Jackets are averaging 13.4 points scored and have hit 68.0 percent from the foul line this season, a solid improvement from the 10.1 points per game and 64.4 percent accuracy Tech posted in the coach's first two years.
Duke fans certainly know the value of rebounding the basketball. Earlier this season the Blue Devils were woeful on the glass, and the results showed. Duke has improved, and accordingly the team has won eight of its last nine games. The Jackets will provide another stiff test on the glass on Tuesday. The team ranks second in the ACC in defensive rebound percentage (71.6 pct.) - percentage of available rebounds taken on the defensive glass and a measure of preventing second chances for opponents. Tech is 34-23 when it has won the rebounding battle under Gregory, and is 6-24 when opponents have won the battle of the boards. One of those 24 losses game at the hands of Duke in January when the Blue Devils recorded a 33-25 advantage.
Former sixth man Kammeon Holsey has moved back into the starting lineup after the rash of injuries hit. Holsey started 12 games as a freshman and all 31 games his sophomore year before giving way to Carter, Jr., last year. He has scored in double digits in five of Tech's last 10 games, including a season-high 15 with nine rebounds against Boston College, averaging 9.4 points and hitting 39-of-64 shots from the floor (60.9 pct.) over that stretch.
Duke is ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Blue Devils are 74-24 all-time when ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. In order to maintain their lofty ranking, the Blue Devils are going to be severely tested over the next week as the team is in the midst of an stretch that includes four games in eight days. Three of those games are on the road. Oddly enough, Duke is 4-0 this season when playing with just one full off day between games.
Jabari Parker is attempting to become the first Duke freshman to lead the team in scoring and rebounding in the same season, currently averaging team highs of 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Only two freshmen have led Duke in scoring, and only six have led the team in rebounding.
Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton are shooting a combined .516 (32-of-62) from three-point range since Duke began ACC play. Sulaimon boasts a team-leading .541 (20-of-37) clip, while Thornton owns a .480 (12-of-25) percentage.
In ACC games, Amile Jefferson ranks fourth in the league with 8.3 rebounds per game and 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. Jefferson, who trails only Jabari Parker's ACC-leading 9.0 rebounds per game in conference play for the team lead, has four double-digit rebound games since conference play began.
Georgia Tech athletics contributed to this report.