Hopefully some of you saw Georgia Tech’s 63-61 win over Maryland Saturday. I haven’t seen all of Tech’s games – basically only the ACC games – but it was probably the best I’ve seen the Yellow Jackets play. Tough defense, offense that was able to create shots and some good individual play. An apt summary from Maryland coach Mark Turgeon:
“Georgia Tech played well. They were really good. They made a lot shots they haven’t been making. They executed and they were tougher than we were.”
1. The defensive intensity was what made the biggest impression. The Jackets’ effort and execution in the second half on the defensive end won the game. Maryland, in part due to a number of its own failures but also because of solid one-on-one and help defense by Tech, missed 20 of its first 22 shots in the second half.
Asked if it was the team’s best defensive performance of the season, coach Brian Gregory said it was hard to evaluate, “but I thought the second half, we had five guys working together defensively. There was always someone there.”
Gregory said he showed the team video from the first Maryland game, when Terrapins players attacked the basket freely in their 61-50 win in January.
“When it came to driving to the basket, we bailed out, we didn’t pick up those charges. Today, we did a much better job of that,” he said.
2. Kammeon Holsey is turning it on. The forward has scored in double figures in five of the last games, and Saturday scored a team-high 16 points with a career-high 10 rebounds and stayed out of foul trouble, allowing him to log 33 minutes, the most he’s played in a regulation game in his career. He also got the free-throw line seven times, knocking down six.
“Holsey was great,” Turgeon said.
Holsey has a knack around the basket. If he can develop a consistent jumper even out to 10 feet and a quicker recognition of double teams, he will become a dangerous player.
“I felt like I can take anyone that guards me one on one,” Holsey said.
3. A common Gregory observation about his team is how small its margin of victory is, particularly without guard Glen Rice Jr. Saturday was a clear example. Guard Mfon Udofia and Holsey both played perhaps the best games of their careers. Guard Jason Morris broke an 0-for-12 3-point shooting slump by knocking down his first two 3-pointers to give Tech a quick 6-0 lead.
Guard Nick Foreman gave 15 solid minutes off the bench and made all three of his shots for eight points. Just about everyone that played either had a good game or at least had his moments. Tech assisted on 16 of its 22 baskets, its best rate in ACC play.
Turgeon was disappointed in the way his team competed, his team missed, as I mentioned, a number of makeable shots and maybe wasn’t as focused as it could have been. And, all that considered, Tech won by a basket against a middle-of-the-road ACC team. Regardless, Tech players were hardly dwelling on those details in what was a well-deserved victory.
Said Gregory, “It’s not just a great effort and another tough loss. It was a great effort and a tough win, which always feels better.”
4. That said, Tech has two winnable games to close out the regular season, Wednesday at Boston College and Saturday at home against Wake Forest. Neither is any great shakes with a combined 7-21 record in ACC play (the Jackets are 3-11). Tech, obviously, has no shot at postseason play unless it somehow wins the ACC tournament, but does have the opportunity for a positive finish.
Backup center Nate Hicks is expected to return to practice Monday from mononucleosis. How much he can give in games remains to be seen. Reading tea leaves, I don’t expect Rice to return this season.
“Our season isn’t over yet,” center Daniel Miller said Thursday. “It’d be one heck of a deal, but it can always happen.”
5. For whatever it’s worth, if Tech can finish with wins over the Eagles and Deacons, it would finish at 5-11 in league play. Virginia Tech, which is 4-10, closes at Clemson and home against N.C. State. Wake, also 4-10, is home against Duke and at Tech.
Boston College, 3-11 like Tech, has the Jackets at home and then is at Miami.
If the Jackets finish ninth, they could well get Maryland again in the first round of the ACC tournament in an 8-9 game. The 4-7 seeds are still up in the air, between Virginia (8-6), Miami (7-6), N.C. State (7-7) and Clemson (7-7). Maryland, eighth at 6-8, goes to North Carolina and will finish at home against Virginia.
Thanks for reading.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog