Four thoughts following Georgia Tech’s 93-81 loss to North Carolina Sunday night in Chapel Hill.
1. The talent disparity was considerable. North Carolina took the court with seven McDonald’s All-Americans, which is seven more than Tech had. On the website draftexpress.com, three of the top nine NBA draft prospects (Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller), five of the top 19 (James McAdoo and Kendall Marshall) and six of the top 62 players (Reggie Bullock) dressed in white and baby blue Sunday night.
I believe I noticed a time late in the first half when coach Brian Gregory went to the bench to try Nick Foreman at power forward, giving Kammeon Holsey and Julian Royal a break. Foreman got posted up by Zeller and had to foul.
Foreman is a former walk-on. Zeller will be a lottery pick when he enters the draft.
2. Marshall had a big influence on the game. Gregory’s big concern was North Carolina’s transition game, which is led by Marshall. The plan was to get somebody in front of Marshall as soon as he got the ball, but that didn’t happen, in part because the Tar Heels push it up so quickly.
Said Royal, “We haven’t played a team yet that had their bigs running every time, sprinting the floor.”
With Marshall leading the break, Tech’s guards had to retreat to the rim to protect against North Carolina’s bigs getting downcourt so quickly, which left the perimeter open. The result was 10 3-pointers (eight in the first half) and 93 points.
“Nobody should ever score 93,” guard Glen Rice Jr. said. “We just didn’t do what we were supposed to do defensively.”
3. North Carolina’s aggressive denial defense gave Tech all sorts of trouble, particularly in the first half. The Jackets had a hard time dealing with the pressure to create real good chances. Tech was 2-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half, when the game was decided.
“We struggled to find guys that can make plays and can score,” Gregory said. “That’s just a simple fact.”
4. Some positives for Tech: Jason Morris shot 5-for-7 in the second half, 3-for-4 from 3-point range, in the second half and had 15 points. Perhaps he’s getting untracked. Morris said that he was taking “dare” shots – knowing his struggles, UNC dared him to take standing 3-pointers, and he made them.
Royal continued to impress with nine points and six rebounds.
“You can tell him, ‘You made this mistake, and this is why you made it,’ and he won’t make it again,” Gregory said. “He’s good. That’s why he’s playing more and that’s why he’s playing better.”
Tech made 10-of-11 free throws. In the four games prior, the Jackets had shot 54.8 percent.