The coach of the next team that will get a crack at Georgia Tech’s defense said he doesn’t know why the Yellow Jackets have had issues defending 3-pointers this season.
“But I hope we [hit them],” Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg said. Georgia Tech (9-9, 2-3 ACC) will host Virginia Tech (13-5, 3-2) at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets are last in the 12-team ACC in 3-point field goal defense. Teams are hitting 39.5 percent of those shots. Virginia torched Tech on Saturday, hitting 66.7 percent of its 3-pointers, including 7-of-8 in the first half.
They were the ninth team this season to surpass the 40-percent mark against the Yellow Jackets. Teams aren’t just barely surpassing that level of shooting, they are burning up the nets. Northwestern hit 63.2 percent of its 3-pointers. Georgia hit 54.5 percent. Mercer hit 55.6. Clemson hit 78.6.
Tech coach Paul Hewitt said in 25 years he’s never seen a team run into so many hot-shooting opponents.
“Some of it is bad luck and some of it is we have to make players put it on the floor when we run into those hot streaks,” Hewitt said.
Tech did that in the second half against the Cavaliers. Virginia’s 3-point percentage dropped to 42.9 percent in the second half, still high but much lower than the first-half rate.
The good news for Tech is the Hokies aren’t a great long-range shooting team, hitting 33.6 percent of their 3-pointers.
“I can’t tell people why have shot the ball well,” Greenberg said. “They are extremely aggressive, as Paul’s teams often are.”
While the Hokies may not be the most accurate shooters, they make up for it by being very good defensively. They are first in scoring defense (59.7 points per game), third in the league in field-goal percentage defense (39.4) and 3-point percentage defense (31.3). That success is due to a switch to a zone defense that Greenberg said better fit the team’s skills.
“We try to limit people to one shot as often as we can,” Greenberg said. “We try to guard and make people take a good shot.”
It will be yet another challenge for Georgia Tech, which is struggling to shoot. The Jackets are last in the ACC in field-goal percentage (41.9) and 3-point percentage (30.5).
But Tech plays much better at home than it has on the road. The Yellow Jackets are 7-2 at home and have blown out their last two opponents, Wake Forest and North Carolina, by a combined 55 points.
“We’ve got another challenge,” Greenberg said.
– Doug Roberson, AJC