Three thoughts from Thursday night’s Georgia Tech loss to N.C. State at Philips Arena.
1. Tech gave a good account of itself in the loss and gave a particularly noteworthy display in the first nine minutes. The Jackets had more energy and tenacity, attacking the offensive glass and opening up leads of 17-9 and 19-11. Tech hadn’t led by eight points at any point of any game since beating the Wolfpack Jan. 11. The Jackets moved the ball quickly and ran a couple of successful pick-and-rolls, which I haven’t seen a lot of.
It says something, though, that the Jackets had shot 6-for-16 when center Daniel Miller put down a dunk for the 17-9 lead, kind of a good news/bad news situation. The Jackets were playing with so much force that they took that large a lead despite not being able to shoot very well. By the end of the half, N.C. State had taken the game back and led 26-24. The Jackets had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and had managed to turn that into six second-chance points.
“Imagine if we would have scored the extra points (off offensive rebounds),” forward Kammeon Holsey said. “We would have been up by five.”
2. Tech shot 1-for-17 from 3-point range. N.C. State took 10 fewer shots in the game, 49 to 59, but made 6 of 17 3-pointers and won by 11 points. That wasn’t the only difference in the game, but a big part of it.
The Jackets have shown themselves to be more than capable of shooting from distance – they were 17-for-38 in back-to-back games North Carolina and Florida State – but this is by and large not a very good shooting team, and it’s hard to see that changing in the final four weeks of the season.
But even just becoming a slightly below average jump-shooting team will help.
“Those are all good shots,” Brian Gregory said of Mfon Udofia’s shot selection. “You’ve just got to live with that. He’s a tough enough kid. He’ll get in the gym [Friday] and get some more shots up.”
3. The loss of backup center Nate Hicks will be an obstacle. Hicks, who missed Thursday’s game with mononucleosis and will be about probably for two weeks, had been averaging 7.2 minutes in ACC games. He’s not an impact player, but can bang in the middle and give Miller a rest. Without Hicks, Miller’s backup is essentially Holsey, who played 31 minutes Thursday, his most since the Georgia game.
Miller played 34 minutes, his most in an ACC game this season. Forward Julian Royal was limited as he had been away from the team due to a death in the family and only returned Thursday afternoon.
“He was understandably not as efficient as he has been and I give him credit,” Gregory said. “He kept fighting and trying to do it. He was drained and I appreciate his sacrifice for the team as well as his family’s.”
4. This isn’t entirely relevant, but three Wolfpack signees were named McDonald’s All-Americans Thursday. Pretty good day for N.C. State. I think this conference is going to be considerably better in two or three years than it is now.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog