After enjoying a week off from games, shorthanded Duke returns to action on Tuesday night in Atlanta to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Duke hasn’t played since an 11 point road loss at Miami on January 25th, and will enter the game against the Yellow Jackets unranked for the first time since 2007. Following the loss to the Hurricanes, head coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled no punches in both his evaluation of his team’s current state and the overall tone of the season.
"We've got to get healthy, get fresh again and keep figuring out how we might win," said the Blue Devil head coach. "The league is so difficult and we're limited."
One of the biggest limitations, of course, has been the absence of Amile Jefferson. Duke began the season 8-1 with the senior forward averaging nearly a double-double per game, while also providing reliable interior defense. Since Jefferson suffered a broken foot on December 12th, Duke is just 7-5.
Jefferson is not expected to play against Georgia Tech, but has recovered enough to allow him to do on-court exercises in practice. However, Krzyzewski cautioned that he was not ready to return yet and noted that Duke wouldn’t rush him back or place him in “harm’s way”.
Much like Duke, Georgia Tech’s record should probably be better than it is. The Yellow Jackets sit at just 2-6 in the league, but those half-dozen defeats have come by a total of 29 points. The most recent loss was a 60-57 decision to Syracuse - in a game where the Orange closed the game on an 11-4 run to win.
Georgia Tech could pose a number of problems for the Blue Devils on Tuesday night as well. Head coach Brian Gregory’s team ranks among the top 25 teams in the country in rebounding margin, pulling in eight more boards per game than their opponents on average.
The Blue Devils will have history on their side, however. Duke has beaten Georgia Tech eight straight times, and are 12-1 in the last 13 meetings between the programs.