Wow, Georgia Tech just knocked off No. 5 Duke. The week just got a lot better for Tech fans, who had had a rough one between the loss to Georgia in basketball and the Orange Bowl.
This might actually give the Paul Hewitt-bashers a little time to rest their typing fingers and send UGA fans back to their own blogs for a bit.
But beyond all the riff-raff, what does it really mean? You have to figure it bodes well, bodes real well.
If Tech can beat Duke, which was shaping up to have one of the top teams in the ACC, it can expect to compete with the best the league has to offer.
I know plenty of folks in and around the program have been saying that all along. But it’s one thing to say it and another to do it. Losses to Dayton and Florida State weren’t backing up what they were saying.
The Yellow Jackets, at 1-1 in the ACC, are halfway to last year’s ACC win total already. They’ve got solid results to fuel their confidence.
On top of that, as some of the Tech players pointed out after the game, the Yellow Jackets managed to beat a good Duke team while some of their best players were having bad games.
Iman Shumpert committed seven turnovers next to three assists. Derrick Favors finished with seven points.
But it didn’t matter, because Tech out-Duked Duke. The Yellow Jackets were 5-for-14 from 3-point range while Duke went only 6-for-28. Tech got to the free throw line twice as much as the Blue Devils, taking 28 free throws to Duke’s 14, and Tech went 17-of-18 from the line in the second half.
Tech outrebounded Duke 26-12 in the second half, including 11 offensive rebounds.
And this very important statistic for the Yellow Jackets – they committed only three turnovers in the second half.
Everybody knows what Tech has going in the frontcourt, but if the backcourt can put up a solid game against a team with good guard play and stingy perimeter defense, then this team can start climbing toward the high ceiling Hewitt is talking about.
Freshman Mfon Udofia got some high praise after the game from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“Udofia played like a veteran today,” Krzyzewski said.
Udofia went 3-for-6 from 3-point range, scored 13 points, hit both his free throws with 6.3 seconds left and played hard for 34 minutes.
I’ve told you my theory on Udofia: bigger the stakes, bigger the game. So it should be interesting to see what he’ll do as he plays in his first ACC road games. Tech has two this coming week – at Virginia Wednesday and at North Carolina on Saturday.
As for another key frosh….
Hewitt on Favors
Favors was under double-digits in scoring for the third consecutive game – he had six points on six shots in 23 minutes against Charlotte, eight points on eight shots in 21 minutes against Georgia and then seven points on six shots in 29 minutes against Duke.
To me, what we’re seeing is the learning curve. You’ve got a freshman starting to make his way in the ACC, and he’s got some things to learn. Happens to the best of them.
Duke did not make it easy on him, double-teaming Favors just about every time he touched the ball. They forced him into four turnovers, including three walks, and generally made him feel uncomfortable at every turn.
Hewitt bristles at some of the comments and questions he’s getting about whether Favors is getting the ball enough, taking enough shots, making the progress he should be. He had a few things to say on the subject after the Duke game.
“You’re talking about a guy who’s one of the best guys I’ve had a chance to coach,” Hewitt said. “He’s an absolute pleasure to coach. It’s really interesting everybody gets on these blogs and talks about he should be this, he should be that and just forget the kid just turned 18 July 5th.
“He’s going to be a great player, a great, great player,” Hewitt continued. “He’s never been challenged physically like this. Go back to the Florida State game. He talked about how that was the most physical game he’s ever been in. He’s going to be a great player, he’s a very good player now. He’s having an excellent freshman year and he’s going to get better.”