Virginia Tech never led this game until there was less than a minute remaining, but that's all they needed to steal a road win in Atlanta. In a critical home game for the Jackets, they came out strong and led by as many as 15 in the first half before struggling in the second half and letting the Hokies get back in the game.
Something Tech fans saw far too many times last season reared its ugly head again today as the Jackets did exactly what they did in Blacksburg last year, blowing a ten point lead with four minutes remaining. The list of things that cost the Jackets in this one goes on and on, but what might have been most critical was the free throws. GT shot just 2-8 from the line in the second half while VT went 22-26. Over the course of the game, VT went to the line 36 times compared to just 16 for the Jackets. Those additional twenty free throws brings the Jacket's opponents free throw attempt advantage to 64 through the first 5 ACC games. After the game Coach Gregory said "we have to do a better job of guarding the ball without fouling."
The most critical point of the game may have come with just 4:20 remaining. The Jackets had just stretched the lead to double digits on an MGH and-one and had proceeded to get a stop on the defensive end before Charles Mitchell gave the ball away on the outlet pass and the preceding inbounds, leading to two uncontested VT layups. After working hard to stretch the lead back to double digits for the first time since the beginning of the half, the lead was back down to six just like that. This sequence of plays seems to sum up perfectly how Jacket fans have felt for the past 5 seasons.
On the final play of the game, Tech fans were left pleading for a foul as Marcus Georges-Hunt pushed the ball up the court down one. In a game where the refs called everything (29 fouls in the second half), they swallowed their whistle when the Jackets needed it most. No matter whether there should have been a foul called or not, they should not have put themselves in that situation in the first place.
On a positive note, Marcus Georges-Hunt had a great game, scoring 27 points and setting a new career high despite getting to the line just four times. Nick Jacobs had a strong game off the bench, scoring 15 points on an efficient 7-11 shooting. Adam Smith struggled for the second game in a row, going just 2-13 including 1-7 from the three-point line. Since his 30 point, eight three-pointer outburst against Pittsburgh, he has gone just 11-44 from the field. The Jackets could have definitely used his offense down the stretch today.
After the gauntlet Georgia Tech has faced to start the ACC season, the Jackets get a much needed week off before returning home again next Saturday to take on #21 Louisville at 4p.