Brian Oliver is finding his shooting stroke at the right time for Georgia Tech’s basketball team.
Oliver scored 28 points by hitting 11 of his 18 shots, including four of his nine 3-pointers, in Tuesday’s 72-57 win against Virginia Tech.
It came a game after he hit five of his nine shots in the loss at Virginia to raise his shooting percentage to 35.7 percent this season. He’s now hitting 37.9 percent of his shots after the performance against the Hokies.
During his struggles this season, coach Paul Hewitt has stood by his player, saying that he just needed to keep going to the gym and hoisting jumpers.
That belief and that work appear to be paying off.
“Honestly, I am not sure of what the difference is between tonight and a week ago,” Oliver said after the Virginia Tech game.
He said there have been some mechanical things that were wrong with his shot that have led to mental issues.
“You cant get down on yourself,” he said. “You say to yourself keep taking good shots, but you have to make sure that, as a shooter, you are always thinking that the next shot is going in. I just cleared my mind, went out there and went back to fundamentals tonight.”
Hewitt joked that Oliver simply needs to shave his beard, saying he had a lot more success last season when he made 39.4 percent of his shots, including 38 percent of his 3-pointers.
He got hot by hitting jumpers around the free-throw line to exploit Virginia Tech’s aggressive 2-3 zone defense. He then started bombing 3-pointers in the corner.
It was the second time this season that Oliver has gone crazy on a 2-3 zone. He scored a career-high 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting against Syracuse, which made the 2-3 famous, in November.
“I get a little bit more freedom to get my shot off,” he said. “It’s more comfortable for me to attack that way.”
Tech needs him to continue to shoot because Glen Rice has suddenly gone cold. Rice scored 24 points against North Carolina and 21 against Wake Forest. The Cavs keyed on him, as did the Hokies. As a result, he has missed 13 of his last 16 shots.
– Doug Roberson, AJC