Depending on how far the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets advance in this year’s ACC tournament, they might be forgiven for wondering what might have been when it comes to 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Robert Carter Jr. The Thomasville, GA native showed Yellow Jackets fans, his teammates and most importantly, the Boston College Eagles, what he is capable of Wednesday night; Carter Jr. scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Georgia Tech’s 73-70 overtime win over the Eagles in the first round of the ACC tournament at Greensboro, NC.
The win improved Georgia Tech to 16-16 on the season after a 6-12 campaign in the ACC, but that conference record doesn’t tell the whole story about the Yellow Jackets this season. Carter Jr. missed 10 ACC games and Georgia Tech was a woeful 3-7 in those games, only beating the likes of Notre Dame, Boston College and Wake Forest — all teams who, like Georgia Tech, finished low enough in the conference to be playing during Wednesday’s trio of first-round games.
Georgia Tech was a different team with Carter Jr. in the lineup, and while the Yellow Jackets continued to struggle for a few games once Carter Jr. returned, Georgia Tech has found a decent stride late in the season. The Yellow Jackets upset Syracuse 67-62, and that has sparked Georgia Tech’s current three-game winning streak (the other win was over Virginia Tech). Carter Jr. has scored 48 points and grabbed 26 rebounds in those three wins, good for an average of 16 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The Yellow Jackets take on Clemson Thursday in the second round of the ACC tournament. While the Tigers are always a threat thanks to the great play of All-ACC First-Teamer K.J. McDaniels, continued strong play by Carter Jr. and more of a contribution from center Daniel Miller (five points, five rebounds vs. Boston College) could spark the Yellow Jackets to another upset and a quarterfinal matchup with the Duke Blue Devils.