Georgia Tech’s win may finally establish direction

Derrick Favors had his best game of the season, with 17 poiints, 14 rebounds and three blocks. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Derrick Favors had his best game of the season, with 17 poiints, 14 rebounds and three blocks. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Everybody was looking for direction, but in the past four games all Georgia Tech had given us was a spinning compass. Lose to Georgia, beat Duke. Lose to Virginia, win at North Carolina.

Next home game: Dramamine to the first 2,500 in attendance?

Well, maybe the Jackets finally established some general direction Tuesday night. With an opportunity to fall flat again, they didn’t. Yes, there were turnovers. There were missed shots. There were just enough of those what-are-you-thinking kind of moments that left you wondering if this season would be one long tease.

But in the end, Tech won. Again. Over a ranked team. Again.

Seldom does a Tuesday night game against Clemson in mid-January stir the masses. But the 66-64 win over the Tigers at Alexander Memorial Coliseum wasn’t without some historical significance. It was the first time Tech won consecutive games against ranked teams in six years. The previous time: the regional final over Kansas and the Final Four semifinal over Oklahoma State.

There has been a lot of disappointment since.

More important was what we saw from this team and what it might project.

“Young teams are what I like to call feel-good teams,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “When they’re making shots and making plays, they’re all jumping around and everything is great. But veterans know sometimes things don’t go well, and they continue to play hard any way.

“A lot of things didn’t go well tonight. We missed some shots and some plays. But the one thing we talked about before the game was no matter what happens, keep playing hard. These guys did that. They showed some resolve. This is big for their confidence.”

Nobody’s confidence is higher right now than freshman Derrick Favors. He took over the game in one stretch in the first half. He dominated around the basket, and finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, one steal and only one turnover. He did all of this in front of the usual row of scouts from NBA teams that likely will be fighting for him in the draft next summer.

“You can tell he’s getting more and more comfortable,” Hewitt said.

Clemson in January wouldn’t be considered a swing game in most seasons. But this year is different. The Jackets have missed the NCAA tournament three of the past four seasons. Hewitt has faced increasing criticism and perceptions of underachieving teams. The talent this season screams a high ceiling. But the roller-coaster consecutive performances against Georgia, Duke, Virginia and North Carolina screamed inconsistency.

So how would Tech respond after winning at Chapel Hill for the first time since 1996? In the early stages, not well. The Jackets trailed 9-2 out of the box. Six minutes into the game, they were 5-for-16 from the floor with four turnovers. Then they made nine consecutive shots and took a 31-21 lead.

But they started to shows cracks in the second half. They led 43-34 before going cold from the outside again. They turned the ball over a few times. They were outscored 14-4 to fall behind 48-47.

“I’m not sure if we were fatigued or what happened there,” Hewitt said.

Fast forward: The game was tied 64-all with less than a minute remaining. Mfon Udolfia traveled. Here we go again? No. Clemson responded with a turnover of its own. The Jackets came back. Zachery Peacock was fouled and made two free throws with 3.2 seconds left, giving Tech the lead. One more defensive stop, and it was over.

“I loved the fact we never quit,” Hewitt said. “When you’re a young team like we are, you know some things won’t go right, but you can control how hard you play. This was pretty big for these guys.”

Finally, maybe, direction.

119 comments Add your comment

gtbabe

January 19th, 2010
10:10 pm

first baby first and with a little more discipline GT can be too!

Dragon

January 19th, 2010
10:15 pm

Jeff,

It’s a sad day when the Jackets have to scratch to ko Clemson at home in January. This should be the dominant team in the ACC this year, nee, given the Plumlee twinkies for Duke, and yet Tech’s guard play still bites. Like Cremins, Hewitt is as good as his point guard.

Ohio Jacket

January 19th, 2010
10:15 pm

This is the most impressed I have been with effort and leadership since the final four run. The offense can look very sloppy and inefficient but were finding ways to win and thats all that matters.

not bad but second

January 19th, 2010
10:15 pm

Glad to see Tech win Tonight but it could have gone the othee way quickly if Clemson played some D and had less fouls

rocket

January 19th, 2010
10:20 pm

true…they almost found a new way to throw this game away….work on those FTs…..need 90% every night.

Technophobia

January 19th, 2010
10:27 pm

Last year they WOULD have thrown it away. By mid-season, you knew before the tip-off. Tonight it just felt like we would pull it out. Things are starting to turn around. Still too early to tell for sure but encouraging none the less.

Dagmar

January 19th, 2010
10:27 pm

WE RUN THIS STATE. 8 out of 9

gtbabe

January 19th, 2010
10:27 pm

what we know is that GT has some 5 stars but they need discipline, development and maturity..but they got a shot at making something happen this season…

HelluvaEngineer

January 19th, 2010
10:28 pm

Ugly, ugly, ugly. While I find it hard to find much comfort in this W, it’s always sweet to beat Clemson in anything. Defense is playing much better than in recent years, and we rebound extraordinarily well (as we should with the horses we have). Our full court game is as good as there is, but our half court game makes me sick to my stomach. Blewitt’s motionless offense is perplexing. 4.4 seconds left and he calls a play for our *center* to drive into traffic (only to, fortunately, be bailed out by the foul)!? Are you serious? Our offense is all about second-chance points.

Put even a mediocre coach – say the basketball analog of Chan Gailey – and you have a 2 seed in the tournament. Put Blewitt in and you’ll get a bubble team who will be fortunate to get a 9 seed.

FIRE PAUL HEWITT!!!

30-24 Dawgs - WE RUN THIS STATE!

January 19th, 2010
10:37 pm

Dawgs>tech>duke>unc>clemson

Technophobia

January 19th, 2010
10:39 pm

Three things in life are inevitable. Death, taxes and UGA dumbasses.

dogcrap

January 19th, 2010
10:42 pm

hey 3024, if you mutt nuts ran the state, you wouldn’t be on this blog. You know it

Terry

January 19th, 2010
10:42 pm

Nice win. Now let’s beat FSU at their place.

jimmy62

January 19th, 2010
10:43 pm

Congrats to the Jackets. It’s hard to overcome such poor coaching, but they managed it.

StingerSplash

January 19th, 2010
10:46 pm

Isn’t this the time of year Clemson usually goes into the tank anyway?
Glad to have the conference win. But … Tech could still use an upgrade on the bench … in the coach’s seat.

Terrence Moore

January 19th, 2010
10:47 pm

30-24 Dawgs - WE RUN THIS STATE!

January 19th, 2010
10:49 pm

Just remember 4 little numbers…
30>24
73>66

That is all.

GT

January 19th, 2010
10:51 pm

These guys are winning left handed but they are winning and the teams they are beating look like we did last year. The foul shooting has got to get better even if we won with Peacock’s, we should have never been that close. Clemson sucked at the line tonight too, probably the losing factor for them. You can almost sense with Tech they spend a huge amount of time coaching positioning and little time on individual skills like free throw shooting. They have gotten much better at getting the ball up the court on a full press and finding the open man on long passes. There is improvement on this team, improvement not seen in last years team that seem to never learn from game to game from their mistakes. This team plays hard too, their heads are on the court, something else missing last year.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

January 19th, 2010
10:52 pm

A win over ranked team? Two points is fine, hope they get it together.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

January 19th, 2010
10:56 pm

This has got to be one of the most frustrating teams to watch. Every game is a roller coaster ride, with far too much inconsistency. Nevertheless, I have greater confidence in this team than in some of the previous years’ editions. For one thing, they have more talent … especially off the bench. For another, they don’t seem to quit, even when things aren’t going well. It remains to be seen how good these guys can be, but one thing’s for certain … it won’t be boring!

University of Hic Town

January 19th, 2010
10:57 pm

From number 1 in the nation to number 2 in the state,,,,Choke

Atl Resident

January 19th, 2010
11:01 pm

To all these damn dawg fans, I’m just waiting when you start cheering for Tech during NCAA March Madness not the conference. Enough said.

Atlanta Jacket

January 19th, 2010
11:03 pm

A win is a win and glad for Hewitt and his team. I hope they build on it. We just might get 20 plus wins and a Sweet 16 this year.

Austin Jacket

January 19th, 2010
11:05 pm

HelluvaEngineer: I totally agree with you, especially about our lack of a half-court offense. I have been fortunate to watch several of our ACC games this year so far, and we still don’t do anything in the half-court to get an open shot. Just a lot of dribbling, post-ups, the occasional pass around the perimeter, and a lot of standing around watching. It kills me!

Eat It St. Simons

January 19th, 2010
11:07 pm

((((30-24)))) hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
((((73-66)))) hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOSHHHHHHHH!!!!! Caleb King just ran for another touchdown

GT Fan

January 19th, 2010
11:12 pm

Great win! I couldn’t stop thinking we were going to lose in last 2 minutes. Paul Hewitt was lucky this time.

LetsGetRealAlready

January 19th, 2010
11:20 pm

Eat It St. Simons is the poster child for why UGAly is universally hated by everyone but UGAly fans. Get a life you POS!

.

January 19th, 2010
11:25 pm

Congrad to Scott Brown for winning new Senate seat from Ma.

Fire Hewitt.

just wondering

January 19th, 2010
11:27 pm

I see the potential but any chance GT admin could hire a consultant or instructor for Hewitt? Not trying to be funny, but the talent is there if we could bring someone in to coach the coach per say on issues like the half court offense, etc…

Jackets Rock

January 19th, 2010
11:27 pm

Great win but the team looked out of sync so many times. Our size and our physicality took over eventually — love that about this team. Great game for Favors! Why Mfon is handling the ball in the final 30 seconds is beyond me…..Give Shump the rock!!!

does SEC play hoops?

January 19th, 2010
11:31 pm

hey dog poopers, no one cares about SEC basketball especially UGAY bb..even when an SEC team is ranked number one like KY no one gives a damn..How bout that Randall Cobb though?

RAMBLE ON!!!

January 19th, 2010
11:34 pm

Does Tech have a winning record in the ACC?

Don’t wake me, this dream is so good, some tea bagger just took Ted Kennedy’s seat.

Tony Shumpert

January 19th, 2010
11:35 pm

Jeff, any way we can some more pics of yourself? I really like the one that comes with each article (especially with those cute glasses), but I need some more to satisfy my appetite. Thanks!

Jeff Schultz

January 19th, 2010
11:40 pm

GTBABE — Tying in the “first” with a basketball season . . . you’ve got mad skills.

Jeff Schultz

January 19th, 2010
11:40 pm

DRAGON — Clemson is ranked 16th in the country. Not exactly a bad team. .. As for as the comment, “Hewitt is as good as his point guard,” I think that could describe any college coach in almost any season.

Butts Wagner

January 19th, 2010
11:41 pm

Peacock should never be dribbling the ball at the 3 point line with 5 seconds to go in a tie game. That could have easily been a no call and turnover. Home cooking won the game, plain and simple.

Jeff Schultz

January 19th, 2010
11:42 pm

Technophobia – For some reason I never had the feeling they would lose tonight, even when they went cold or were throwing the ball away.

Jeff Schultz

January 19th, 2010
11:42 pm

Ohio Jacket — nice summary.

Mark Fox

January 19th, 2010
11:43 pm

Where did all my fans go?????

Jeff Schultz

January 19th, 2010
11:45 pm

Tony Shumbert — I’m not supposed to say anything but Maxim is coming out with a “Men of the AJC” edition.

Technophobia

January 19th, 2010
11:51 pm

Jeff, I think it was because of the defense. We seemed to be able to get a stop or a turnover whenever we needed it. Gotta give Clemson credit for hitting the boards better in the second half btw.

Heinrich Himmler

January 20th, 2010
12:15 am

I hope you’re still employed 9 years from now when Tech beats UGA at something.

aztec

January 20th, 2010
12:23 am

i dont know who is going to give me a heart attack first, the ramblin wreck or my aztecs..neither team can shoot free throws very well, the aztecs lucked out at utah tonight despite very poor free throw shooting

UGA_2001

January 20th, 2010
12:37 am

How Bout Them Dawgs!

Technophobia

January 20th, 2010
12:42 am

Dawgs startin to look like a “one hit wonder” lol. THWG

Son of a Bush

January 20th, 2010
12:47 am

HelluvaEngineer or should I say Mark Price, give it a break!

Run the state - not

January 20th, 2010
12:58 am

Hey dude –

BCS Bowl – Weedeater bowl
DC with proven success at every level – DC who was fired in his last DC job
Head coach with Jesus on his side – Head coach who knives Jesus in your side whether you want it or not
NCAA tournament – nothing tournament

DuluthDawg

January 20th, 2010
1:20 am

Congratulations to the Jackets. The team seems to be coming together. Glad we caught you guys early.

Full Yellow Jacket

January 20th, 2010
1:34 am

We’ll see what the sentiment is after the 3-4 blows up UGA and their fluke of a running game followed by Daniel Drummond pounding the ball down Todd Grantham’s throat.

thUGA

January 20th, 2010
3:43 am

Georgia fans….both your football team and bball team are completely irrelevant. Regardless of your precious wins (which is hilarious that’s what seems to have made your year) nobody gives a ****! Go choke on your dip spit!