Tech vs. Illinois in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Georgia Tech basketball coach Brian Gregory didn’t plan to play Cal, Saint Mary’s and Illinois in succession. And perhaps given the opportunity to face teams that have played in three of the past four NCAA tournaments (Cal), two of the past three (Saint Mary’s) or are undefeated and ranked No. 22 (Illinois), he might have declined.

But, through the draw at the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, Calif., and their pairing in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, that’s the Yellow Jackets’ lot. Tech plays the Illini Wednesday in Champaign, Ill., at 9 p.m. in a game televised on ESPN2.

“If you looked at it, you would say that would be a little overambitious in your scheduling at this part of the year,” Gregory said, “but I think it’s been good for us.”

After taking third at the DirecTV Classic, where they beat Rice and Saint Mary’s and lost to Cal, the Jackets face their biggest challenge of the season. Illinois won the eight-team Maui Invitational, defeating Butler 78-61 in the final and is 7-0.

“It’s a huge challenge for us, and, again, another opportunity for us to get a good read on where we’re at,” Gregory said Tuesday.

Tech has lost its last four in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. For Gregory, the game at Illinois’ Assembly Hall is a return to his home state and his Big Ten coaching roots.

“You’ve got to really maintain your composure and your poise,” he said. “It really is us against everybody else when you go into a venue like that.”

As he prepared to bus down from Chicago, where the team camped after completing the Anaheim tournament Sunday, Gregory presented a promising report on his team, which is 4-1.

“I think defensively, we’ve been pretty darn good,” he said.

Tech is limiting opponents to a field-goal percentage of 37.1 percent, 43rd in the country and second in the ACC. He has particularly liked his defense on the perimeter.

“We have a pretty good mix there, so we’ve been able to change up some coverages and some assignments,” Gregory said.

Guard Jason Morris had perhaps his best defensive game of the season against Saint Mary’s, Gregory said. Playing 17 minutes off the bench, Morris defended Gaels point guard Matthew Dellavedova, a starter on the Australian Olympic team and last year’s West Coast Conference player of the year. Dellavedova finished with five points on 1-for-8 shooting and eight assists against five turnovers.

Tech beat Saint Mary’s 65-56 in the third-place game Sunday.

Tech will return to Atlanta Wednesday night following the game, completing a nine-day trip.

By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

13 comments Add your comment

GT-UT

November 27th, 2012
10:26 pm

GT-UT

November 27th, 2012
10:28 pm

I want to thank my family, my coach, and KEN! for the reports!! Go Jackets!! Beat FSU!!!

GT-UT

November 27th, 2012
11:29 pm

And the big ten!!

Biff Pocoroba

November 27th, 2012
11:38 pm

Just beat the dogs next Tuesday.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

November 28th, 2012
5:07 am

I, for one, will be glad to see the b’ball team get back home. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.

you can't fix stupid or bulldogs

November 28th, 2012
6:01 am

GO JACKETS…..win both games this week!

GTJACKET

November 28th, 2012
7:20 am

I have watched every game so far and find the team to be much improved. If we can get consistent outside shooting we could be very good. Hopefully Stacey Poole joing the lineup in late December will help with that.

Todd

November 28th, 2012
8:42 am

The team has played very well. They were winning against Cal until the 2nd half, where it looked like there legs and energy were gone – it was 1:30 AM for them after all… I know it’s preseason, but who schedules the east coast team for a 12:00 AM tipoff?

gt45

November 28th, 2012
9:07 am

Did I tell you we are a basketball and baseball school? They look as organized and under control as any team I’ve seen since the Curry days, i.e., well coached!

Technically Correct

November 28th, 2012
9:39 am

A Tech team that is good and scappy on DEFENSE! Wow! What a refreshing change…

wreckbone

November 28th, 2012
1:34 pm

I agree the defense is looking good! And what about Reed’s night? Reed please start making an offense impact. That was really nice. Also good to see the freshmen contribute from the beginning. If we can make a stong showing or win this would bode well for the season go Jacket!!

Paul Johnson

November 28th, 2012
2:03 pm

Mr. Gregory – Can you work a double shift and help me out on defense. We are totally lost, and we might as well try a basketball coach. It sure can not get any worse. Besides, I can share a few thoughts to improve your offense because no one has stopped mine.

GT-UT

November 28th, 2012
8:56 pm

Good one CPJ