Brian Gregory's Jackets simply couldn't close out another tightly-contested conference game, falling by a final score of 75-71 at the hands of No. 17 Louisville at McCamish Pavilion.
The first half was nothing if not encouraging for Tech -- the Yellow Jacket bench outscored that of the opposition by an incredible 18-point margin (22-4), allowing Tech to take a 7-point lead to the break. A quick run by Louisville saw the Cardinals tie the game once again, but the Jackets were able to go on a quick run of their own to go up 49-41 with just a shade over 13 minutes remaining in the game. The effort proved futile, however, with the latest in a long string of blown leads ending Tech's hopes of an upset. A little bit of everything went wrong for the team down the stretch, with Marcus Georges-Hunt fouling out on a questionable call with 1:01 remaining, Tadric Jackson committing an ugly turnover on the subsequent possession, and Louisville hitting important free throws to preserve the victory and hand head coach Brian Gregory his 56th loss in 76 ACC games with the Jackets.
It isn't easy to put up points on Rick Pitino's signature defense, a unique mixture of hard-to-read zone looks and full-court pressure, but Tech handled it admirably -- the Jackets were able to hang 71 on Louisville's No. 2 scoring defense which has allowed a meager 58.2 points per game this year. Tech's shooting percentage of 42.1% also rested well above Louisville's season mark of just 36.1%, the best defensive field goal percentage in the country.
The Jackets were also dominant on the glass, out-rebounding the Cardinals 39 to 30, but allowed Louisville to shoot 44.3% from the floor for the contest. Phenomenal performances from seniors Marcus Georges-Hunt, who dropped 23 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out, and Nick Jacobs, who added in 16 and 10 of his own, were not quite enough to carry the rest of team. Brian Gregory's decision to shake up the lineup also proved ineffective, with starting point guard Travis Jorgenson struggling from the field and forward James White logging just 10 minutes in the loss.
Though it likely isn't any consolation for the long-time Jacket, Georges-Hunt's 23 points moved him up to 18th all-time in scoring on The Flats. He has a great chance to enter the top 15 overall in the category this season, which would entail passing the likes of Kenny Anderson and John Salley among other Tech legends.
The Jackets fall to 11-8 on the season, including a 1-5 mark in the ACC, as NCAA Tournament hopes grow ever dimmer. They'll play at NC State on Wednesday and at Syracuse on Saturday before returning to Atlanta to take on Duke the following Tuesday.