MILWAUKEE – Well it’s here. Or almost here. Tipoff in about three hours. And three is the operative number today, if you listen to what concerns the Yellow Jackets heading into tonight’s NCAA tournament first round game against Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys led the Big 12 with 8.4 3-pointers made per game. They were actually only ninth in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage at 35.2 percent, but they shot more than another other Big 12 team (762), which is almost 24 per game. Wow, so these guys are going to chuck it up there.
The Cowboys actually shot close to 30 3-pointers in their last three games.
No wonder D’Andre Bell said yesterday in the press conference they would shoot it pretty much under any circumstances: “(They take) contested 3s, transition 3s, whether the hand is in their face or not, it goes in for them.”
Obi Muonelo ranked third in the Big 12 by hitting 43.2 percent of his 3-pointers. James Anderson (35.1) and Keiton Page (.374) are going to shoot them too, each taking 70 some-odd 3-pointers this season. So Tech will need to defend the 3-point line better than it did late in the season and more like it did in the ACC tournament to win.
Georgia Tech held North Carolina to 2-for-16 from 3-point range, Maryland to 4-for-21, N.C. State to 6-for-26, and Duke to 5-for-17. In their last three games of the regular season, the Yellow Jackets gave up 11-for-22 from 3-point range to Boston College, 12-for-27 at Clemson and 9-for-17 to Virginia Tech, one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the ACC.
So yes, big day for Iman Shumpert, Bell and Glen Rice Jr. on the perimeter to find a way to contain Anderson and to limit the 3-pointers.
I know Shumpert did a great job on Greivis Vasquez of Maryland, helping to hold the ACC player of the year to 6-for-21 shooting, including 2-for-11 from 3-point range, and six turnovers in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Then in the finals Shumpert and gang held Jon Scheyer to 3-for-13 shooting until that last fateful 3-pointer.
If the Yellow Jackets give up one of those today – or a bunch of them – season’s over. So that’s my key to the game – defending the 3-point line. Aren’t I a rocket scientist? Ha. OK won’t be long until game time. Enjoy.