Hood scores 27, No. 16 Duke beats Ga Tech 79-57
No. 16 Duke debuted its lowest national ranking in six years — and spent half the game making a case for an even worse one.
But once Rodney Hood got rolling, the Blue Devils were back on track.
Hood scored 15 of his 27 points in the second half of Duke's 79-57 victory over Georgia Tech on Tuesday night.
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 Atlantic Coast Conference).
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 Indoor Stadium.
"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."
Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 18 points for the short-handed Yellow Jackets (9-6, 0-2), who shot 49 percent yet lost their second straight.
"Some good things to build on," Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said. "Not satisfied because six, seven possessions (are) the difference in these games, and we've got to tighten up those."
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.
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.
Daniel Miller added 14 points for Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets were outrebounded for the first time this season 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.
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.
"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."
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.
The struggles continued for Parker, a 20-point scorer in 10 of his first 12 games who found himself benched late in the Notre Dame loss following a 2-for-10 shooting performance.
"I'm human, too. I'm going to make mistakes," Parker said. "We won the game, so that's all. My time will come again, hopefully, but if it doesn't, as long as we win, as long as I can do other things to help the team, that's my focus."
His only two field goals in the first half of this one were dunks, he didn't hit a jump shot until midway through the second half and he didn't play in the final 7:53 after he picked up his fourth foul.
"He's learning a whole bunch of things, and as he's doing that, we're still Duke, and everyone expects us to be perfect and win everything and look great while we're doing it," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It doesn't happen that way. We're a work in progress, and I want to coach them that way without putting extra pressure on them."