Stop me if this sounds familiar. The Yellow Jackets hold their own against a top 25 team on their own court well into the second half before giving up a late game run. Charles Mitchell, Adam Smith, and Marcus Georges-Hunt carry the team offensively with limited help from elsewhere on the team. Georgia Tech struggles with perimeter defense allowing their opponents to penetrate at will and allows a no offense big men their biggest game of the season. After a first half of avoiding foul trouble, the Jackets get foul happy in the second half and let the opposition shoot far more free throws than necessary. In these respects, this loss to #24 Pittsburgh is strikingly similar to last Saturday’s loss at #7 UNC.
First off, Adam Smith is a beast. He hit 8 three pointers and many of those were with a man right in his face. Pitt knew Smith was going to shoot and was guarding him close but somehow made the acrobatic threes fall. He ended with 30 points on just 16 shots from the field, he was the biggest reason that Georgia Tech was able to almost keep pace with Pitt’s dynamic offense. Mitchell scored 20 points on 8/18 shooting along with a monster 17 rebounds. He was nearly unstoppable on the offensive glass and drew plenty of fouls on the Panther’s front line. MGH had a decent game with 14 points on 7/14 shooting. Nick Jacobs scored 8 points but needed 10 shots to do it. Tadric Jackson had a strong game with 7 points on 2/5 shooting. He played in control and made some nice plays in all phases.
On the other side, it was the perimeter players who once again led the team. Jamel Artis and James Robinson each poured in 18 points while guard Sterling Smith scored 11. The post players did a great job of putting themselves in good positions to receive passes from the perimeter players. Rafael Maia who averages less than three points a game ended with 7 while Michael Young and Sheldon Jeter combined for 27.
Once again, the Yellow Jackets scored plenty, but failed to stop a high flying offense at all. Once again, Georgia Tech allowed their opponent to attack the rim almost at will. The Jackets even switched to a 2-3 zone at times to try to stop penetration but even that did not help. Unlike North Carolina though, Pittsburgh augmented this by hitting their shots. They went 6-13 from deep and a fantastic 25-30, or 83.3%, from the line. This was a major factor in the game. If a just a few of those shots don’t fall, Georgia Tech is right in the game. A recurring problem for Georgia Tech has been the second half fouls. In the first half, Pittsburgh barely made it into the bonus and took only four free throws. In the second half, lazy defense led to huge amounts of fouls and 26 free throws. The Jackets need to keep moving their feet the whole game and not staying in front of their man.
Georgia Tech continues its tough start to conference play by coming back home to McCamish Pavilion against #4 Virginia on Saturday at 2 PM.