The Yellow Jackets frustrated the Blue Devils for little over a half before Rodney Hood took over late in Duke’s 79-57 victory Tuesday night.
“We did a good job until right there at the end,” Yellow Jackets big man Daniel Miller said. “They took off.”
Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 18 points for the short-handed Yellow Jackets (9-6, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 49 percent but were outrebounded for the first time this season and were denied their first victory at Cameron in a decade.
That happened on the same day the ACC’s top rebounder — Robert Carter Jr., who averages 9.3 boards — had surgery on the meniscus in his left knee. He has been out since tearing it Dec. 29.
For much of the game, rebounding wasn’t an issue for Georgia Tech because the Yellow Jackets didn’t miss many shots. They made 22 of their first 40 attempts before ending the game by missing eight of 11.
“Some good things to build on,” coach Brian Gregory said. “Not satisfied because six, seven possessions (are) the difference in these games, and we’ve got to tighten up those.”
Hood was responsible for most of those.
He scored 15 of his 27 points in the second half. Quinn Cook added 13 points and slumping freshman Jabari Parker had 12 on 4-of-12 shooting for the Blue Devils (12-3, 1-1).
Playing their first game outside the top 10 since November 2007, they struggled for little over a half before Hood helped them pull away for their 25th straight win at Cameron.
“We were dead in the first half. We didn’t play like we just came off a loss,” Hood said. “In the second half, we just came back and played hungry. We played together.”
Duke had trouble getting any sort of separation until Hood hit 3-pointers 45 seconds apart down the stretch.
Hood — who was 5-of-5 from long range in the second half — hit a stepback 3 one possession before knocking down one with a hand in his face to put the Blue Devils up 66-50 with 6½ minutes remaining.
“They were just so good for so long,” Miller said. “They were taking off, and we were coming back, but we just didn’t have it in us to finish.”
Rasheed Sulaimon scored 11 points and Andre Dawkins added 10 to help Duke win its 30th in 33 meetings in the series and avoid its first consecutive regular-season losses since February 2009.
Miller added 14 points for Georgia Tech.
The Blue Devils struggled for much of the game to slow down a Georgia Tech offense that entered 12th in the 15-team ACC in both scoring and field goal percentage, averaging 71 points and making under 43 percent of its shots.
Before pulling away late, the only thing resembling a Duke run came early in the second half when Sulaimon’s 3-pointer capped a quick 12-3 burst that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead, 48-38, with 16½ minutes left.
Duke’s streak of 225 consecutive games as a top 10 team came to an end shortly after a 79-77 loss at Notre Dame that sent the preseason ACC favorites tumbling down the rankings.
The defeat led Duke to tweak its starting lineup, reinserting Sulaimon and forward Amile Jefferson in place of seniors Josh Hairston and Tyler Thornton, who had both started the past eight games.
Early on, it didn’t seem to help.
The Blue Devils led 34-33 after sleepwalking through a first half in which they allowed Georgia Tech to shoot nearly 54 percent.