No. 9 Duke looks to right ship at Georgia Tech

Duke seeks to recover from the disappointment of losing in its rivalry game when it visits Georgia Tech for Sunday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference game in Atlanta.

The ninth-ranked Blue Devils have back-to-back losses for the first time this season as they wrap up of a stretch of three consecutive road games.

Georgia Tech also has lost two games in a row.

“We’re still figuring it out,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “We’re in a little rut. … Both teams needing to win the game. We know they’re going to be fired up coming in here on Sunday, but we should be as well.”

Duke (19-5, 7-4 ACC) tried different lineup combinations against North Carolina, something that could continue if reserve center Marques Bolden makes more progress after missing a few weeks with a knee injury.

“We’ll see,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We are trying a few different things. Marques did well. … He still isn’t in the optimum playing shape that he hopefully will be in soon.”

Duke players were distraught with the 82-78 outcome against No. 21 North Carolina. Freshman sensation Marvin Bagley III called it failure.

“It didn’t go how I wanted it to go,” Bagley said. “Coming out and not winning, that’s not going to fly, especially against that team. If I had to grade it, I’d say it was an F.”

So Duke has plenty to work on, particularly after giving up 20 offensive rebounds at North Carolina. Rebounding had been a strength even while the defense had struggled at times.

“Well, on defense, you have to rebound the ball,” Krzyzewski said. “It’s the completion of the play.”

For Duke freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr., this is a game in his hometown of Atlanta.

Georgia Tech (11-13, 4-7) might have confidence playing at sold-out McCamish Pavilion, where it has defeated nationally ranked Miami and Notre Dame this winter.

Duke won road games against Pittsburgh, Miami and Wake Forest but has had trouble at times away from home.

“Just keep our poise,” Bagley said. “We continue to run out to leads so we have to learn how to hold onto our leads. Keep the ball and not turn it over.”

Georgia Tech sophomore guard Josh Okogie tends to thrive in these games. He has averaged 20.5 points in eight career home outings against Top 25 foes.

Yellow Jackets center Ben Lammers was held out of Friday’s practice because he needed rest, Pastner said.

Pastner, who’s one victory away from 200 career wins, said that while his team’s defensive numbers have declined, there are problems at both ends of the court.

“We haven’t been able to get stops,” Pastner said. “Part of it is turnovers. What happens is you have no opportunity to get your defense set. The whole thing is we’ve got to stop turning it over and that will help our defense. I can’t stress that enough. It’s our best chance to win in the ACC.”

Duke won last season’s matchup 110-57 in the last game before Krzyzewski took several weeks off for back surgery. That was the most points ever surrendered by the Yellow Jackets in the series and the largest margin of defeat for Georgia Tech against Duke.

The Blue Devils own a 10-game winning streak against Georgia Tech, marking their longest active stretch of success vs. an ACC opponent.