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ACC-Big Ten Challenge Basketball: Georgia Tech Quells Fiesty Northwestern Team 66-58

While Georgia Tech couldn't save the ACC's fate in this annual challenge, the Jackets move to 6-1 with a gutty win.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech never trailed, eventually sweating out a late charge but coming up victorious 66-58 at Northwestern.

Tech jumped out to an early 20-2 lead behind crisp passing and execution, but they would let the Wildcats back into the game. Northwestern would counter with a 10-2 run late in the second half. It was a contest of runs, with the Wildcats clawing to within a one possession lead under a minute left in the game, but Tech salted the game away at the free throw line.

First, let me admit I was wrong. Wrong wrong wronggity wrong. At least when it comes to Josh Heath. I wrote in the preseason that his numbers at USF weren't very impressive and as a result would struggle to find minutes behind both Travis Jorgenson and Corey Heyward.

He has outplayed both thoroughly so far in the early season, including Wednesday night at Northwestern. He had a near flawless night with 12 points on 6-6 shooting, including a number of key midrange jumpers. He was also perfect in leading the Jacket offense with 5 assists and no turnovers. He has now surely supplanted Heyward, who is now the one scrounging for minutes, and has made a case for even taking some of Jorgenson's minutes, who remain less explosive than he has the ability to be.

Charles Mitchell and Robert Sampson combined for 24 points and 5 important blocks as well. Chris Bolden continued to look like a new man this season. He notched the win for the good guys with some late clutch free throws. Demarco Cox also chipped in 6 points and 5 rebounds and some tough interior defense.

The Jackets held Northwestern to just 18 first half points, limiting good looks from both near the basket and far. That intensity let up in the second half but it was enough to stave off a pesky team from Chicago.

The team has very balanced scoring so far in the season, with no one logging more than 12 points a game. Also, the free throw shooting seems to have improved as of late, helping the Jackets ice games in which they've held large leads. They were 14-18 (77.8%) Wednesday night, helping to quiet an audience trying to goad their team back into the game.

The ACC had a rough time in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, with the Jacket win not enough to prevent the 10-6 edge the B1G held. Still, it was the first true road game for the Jackets and they handled a late Wildcat run and a hostile crowd to notch their 6th win of the season.