Georgia Tech’s inability to consistently win at Cameron Indoor Stadium is a big reason it hasn’t swept a regular-season series with Duke in 14 years.
Trying to achieve that feat again will likely be a challenge when the No. 21 Yellow Jackets look for a rare road victory against the 10th-ranked Blue Devils on Thursday night in an ACC matchup.
Ranked 20th at the time, Georgia Tech (16-5, 4-3) snapped a four-game losing streak to then-No. 5 Duke with a 71-67 home victory Jan. 9. It was the Yellow Jackets’ third victory in 27 games against the Blue Devils since the start of the 1996-97 season.
The Yellow Jackets haven’t swept a regular-season series with Duke since 1995-96, and are 5-29 all-time at Cameron Indoor, where they’ve lost three in a row following a 76-68 win March 3, 2004.
“They are a different team at home,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt told the school’s official Web site of the Blue Devils, winners of 14 in a row in Durham. “They shoot the ball much better; they’re much more explosive defensively and force more turnovers. We’re going to have to play better.”
Georgia Tech shot 41.5 percent against Duke (17-4, 5-2) last month, but a strong defensive effort stymied a Blue Devils’ team that played their third game in six days. Duke went 6 of 28 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 38-32.
While Duke should be well-rested and carrying more than one chip on its shoulder after losing 89-77 at No. 7 Georgetown on Saturday, it’s facing Georgia Tech squad that’s one of the nation’s best by allowing opponents to 36.6 percent shooting.
Duke, though, is shooting 50.3 percent while averaging 89.9 points in 12 home games this season. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, are averaging 61.7 points on 41.6 percent shooting during their three-game skid at Cameron Indoor.
Senior Jon Scheyer is averaging a team-leading 18.7 points this season, and 19.0 in his last three games against Georgia Tech. He had 25 with six assists and was one of two Blue Devils players in double figures last month against the Yellow Jackets.
“Jon had a good game,” said All-American Kyle Singler, who’s averaging 16.1 points, but was held to nine on 2-of-13 shooting at Georgia Tech. “But we kind of rely on him too much. We have to do a better job of helping him out.”
Duke tried to support Scheyer against Georgetown, but shot 37.1 percent, committed 15 turnovers and allowed the Hoyas to shoot a blistering 71.7 percent (33 of 46) from the field. Guard Nolan Smith had 19 points, while Singler added 18 and Scheyer 17 in the non-conference loss.
Georgia Tech also stepped out of the ACC in its last game, but came away with a much better result against an a far more inferior opponent.
With no starter playing more than 18 minutes, the Yellow Jackets shot 71.2 percent in a 98-50 home rout of Division II Kentucky State on Saturday. Glen Rice Jr. had 15 points and D’Andre Bell added 14 as Georgia Tech’s bench saw plenty of minutes.
Despite facing little challenge in that contest, star forward Gani Lawal felt the Yellow Jackets dominated the way they should and did not play down to the level of its competition.
“It was good in preparation for (Duke),” said Lawal, who’s averaging a team-leading 14.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. “When we’re on top of our game, no one can stop us.”
Lawal had 21 points and nine boards in the victory over Duke, but 10 and four in a 71-58 loss in the teams’ last meeting at Cameron Indoor on Feb. 27, 2008.