For a while, Georgia Tech couldn’t stop opponents from hitting 3-pointers.
Now, the Jackets have stopped those shots but they can’t stop teams in the paint.
Maryland scored 72 of its 74 points in the free-throw lane or at the free-throw line in Sunday’s 74-62 win. That came one game after Virginia Tech scored 52 of its 57 points in the lane or at the line.
Coach Paul Hewitt said he thought the way the Terrapins scored was much different than the Hokies scored. He said his guards did a good job of manning up on Virginia Tech’s guards on the perimeter. However, the Terrapins were able to blow by Tech’s guards and get into the lane with ease. Hewitt said he talked to his team about guarding the Terps off the dribble, but Maryland had no trouble, scoring 48 points in the paint.
“I thought the effort was good,” Hewitt said. “I look at effort in a couple of different ways. Of course there is the physical effort, but then there is the mental effort and gritting your teeth and thinking, ‘OK, they want to score at the rim, let’s make them do something else.’ Forty-eight points in the paint makes it tough to win a basketball game.”
Maryland coach Gary Williams said his guards were having trouble in the first half in half-court sets, so they tried something different to get Tech’s guards to back down. The extra benefit was the ability to drive to the basket.
Afterward, Iman Shumpert was talking about the team’s offense but he may have as well been describing the defense when he said, “We just weren’t ourselves tonight.”
Now for the good news: Virginia Tech and Maryland combined to miss 16 of their 17 3-point attempts. It was the first time in 407 games that the Terps didn’t hit a 3-pointer. Opponents were hitting an ACC-best 39.5 percent of their 3-pointers before the game against the Jackets. Now they are hitting 38 percent of those shots.
Tech was playing without two important players: Forward Brian Oliver (flu) and reserve center Nate Hicks (appendectomy).
“Having Nate might have helped, but I thought we had enough to win this game,” Hewitt said. “I was very confident because of how we were playing and attacking our assignments over the last few games. But give Maryland credit because it is one thing to talk about mistakes that you make, but the other team has to take advantage of it.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC