A little groggy after a late evening – I rolled out of the RBC Center around 1:30 a.m., I think – but wanted to offer a couple thoughts and give you a chance to share yours.
Obviously, an impressive win for Georgia Tech. Coach Brian Gregory got contributions from a variety of spots, starting with Glen Rice Jr., and won convincingly.
Stat of the night: N.C. State got the first 10 rebounds of the game, at which point the Wolfpack still only led 14-12. After that, Tech had a 34-19 rebounding edge.
Stat of the night No. 2: Prior to Tech’s 80-54 road win over Wake Forest last March – the Deacons were dragging to an 8-24 finish and lost 14 of their 15 ACC games by 14 points or more – the 11-point margin was the Jackets’ biggest margin of victory in an ACC road game since the 2003-04 season, when Tech went to the Final Four.
Quote of the game: “Right at the beginning of the game, they were really physical, but then it felt like we took over and they weren’t crashing the boards like we were. We were getting bodies on them. I think we might just have been in better shape that they were.” – center Daniel Miller
1. I thought Tech did well challenging shots and making N.C. State work for looks. The Wolfpack had come into the game with a 48.1 shooting percentage and shot 42.9 percent. Tech didn’t allow a basket in the final seven possessions of the first half when it closed out the half with a 14-1 run to go into halftime up 40-29.
“They had a little slip-up today, but I think we had something to do with it because we played well,” Gregory said.
2. The Wolfpack were definitely hurt by foul trouble, notably forward C.J. Leslie, N.C. State’s leading scorer. He scored 16 points with seven rebounds in 24 minutes and, as Gregory noted afterwards, might have been a little tentative because of his fouls. Perhaps the crowd affected by perception, but it wasn’t a well-officiated game. I think Tech should have little complaint about the way the whistles went.
Also, I think Tech shot the ball about as well as it could expect to in a road game. I’m not sure the Jackets will do better than 9-for-15 from 3-point range the rest of the season.
3. Rice worked hard for his shots on offense. For him to go 7-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range with the coverage he got is impressive. Plus, he had active hands on defense. Two very good games in a row for him.
“You make the first couple, it’s just easy to get hot from there,” he said.
4. Guard Mfon Udofia had one of his best games of the season – 5-for-8 from the field including 3-for-4 from 3-point range to go with three assists against one turnover. He hit a big 3-pointer to push the score to 72-57 with 2:51 to play that all but ended it. He had one or two unwise forays to the basket, but more than held his own in his matchup with N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown.
5. Forward Kammeon Holsey led with eight rebounds and his work in the post and on the boards helped get Leslie into the aforementioned foul trouble.
“Like Coach said, ‘Every night, your shot isn’t going to fall,’ but I went to the boards really hard to try to bring a physical presence,” he said.
6. It’s a little trite, but if the Jackets continue to give effort like this, I think they’ll give just about everyone on the schedule a hard time. The team has obvious shortcomings, starting with depth, and it seems like both Duke and N.C. State didn’t play great games, although Tech gets some credit for that. But so long as this start-to-finish intensity continues, it’ll be a much more interesting ride than most of us had thought.
“Every time you can get a little tangible evidence that what you’re doing can actually work, it’s going to help the process,” Gregory said. “But it’s still a process. It doesn’t necessarily speed it up, but it does add some credibility to it, which is always important.”