On Super Bowl Sunday, the Jackets put up a great effort once again, but it was the same story we have seen in almost every game this season. Tech started out strong and was shooting 59% with just three minutes left in the first half, but six Tech turnovers and seven Miami offensive rebounds helped to keep them close. Up six, the Jackets went cold for the rest of the half and Miami finished on a 7-0 run to take a one point lead into half. Six misses to end the half dropped Tech's shooting percentage to 46% at halftime.
From the start of the second half until the 8:00 mark, the Miami lead fluctuated between one and five, but somehow the Jackets were never able to take the lead. Miami stretched the lead to seven, but once again, Tech battled back, cutting the lead down to three points. If what happened next doesn't summarize what it's like to be a Tech fan, then I don't know what does. The Jackets played lockdown defense for 29 seconds before Ja'Quan Newton threw up a miraculous three pointer as he was falling away from the basket and drained it. The reactions on Twitter sum it up pretty well:
Miracle 3 by Miami at the end of the shot clock. That's an impossible shot. That's an air ball against any other team.— Matt Thompson (@MattThompson87) February 7, 2016
That last sequence epitomizes what it's like to be a Georgia Tech fan. It's just unbelievable.— Jacob Dennis (@jakeyd_8) February 7, 2016
That shot by Ja'Quan Newton might have scraped the roof of the arena. Goodness.— Jeff (BPredict) (@BPredict) February 7, 2016
Okay, @GTMBB might have the worst luck of all time. How did that shot go in??— McCamish Maniacs (@McCamishManiacs) February 7, 2016
Marcus Georges-Hunt led Tech with 19 points, but got those points on an unimpressive 6-14 shooting. MGH was 3-5 from behind the arc, but just 3-9 on 2-point attempts. The 83% free throw shooter also went an uncharacteristic 4-7 from the line.
Tadric Jackson built on his Duke performance and had another good game for the Jackets, scoring 13 points on 5-9 shooting. Jackson attacked the basket well and added a pair of threes. However, free throw shooting continues to be an issue for him, where he went 1-4 including a miss on the front end of a critical one-and-one at the end of the game. Overall, Tech was 9-16 from the line.
Tech struggled to contain Miami's best player, Sheldon McClellan who finished the game with 22 points on an incredibly efficient 6-7 shooting. Miami had three other players in double figures: Davon Reed (15), Kamari Murphy (10), and Ja'Quan Newton (14). Tech did hold Miami PG Angel Rodriguez scoreless, but he added six assists. He came in averaging 12 points per game.
Turnovers killed the Jackets today, finishing with 14 compared to just six for Miami. Turnovers helped keep Miami in the game in the first half and ultimately helped them win it, with four in the final five minutes of the game. Two of those four came with Tech trailing by just one possession.
You could blame it on the Super Bowl if you want, but the attendance at today's game (by the students in particular) was very weak. The courtside student section didn't fill up and the student section behind the basket was completely empty. The rest of the stadium was probably about two-thirds full. The ACC schedulers certainly haven't helped the Jackets this season, but Mike Bobinski and Georgia Tech administration should be embarrassed to have this sort of turnout for a ranked opponent.
Once again, Tech proved they can compete with any team in the country, but a variety of reasons (coaching, turnovers, free throw shooting, luck, etc.) consistently result in losses for the Jackets. Tech finishes their three-game home stand on Wednesday when Wake Forest comes to town in a must win game for the Jackets. Wake is 10-13 overall and just 1-10 in the ACC. Tech's postseason odds are very slim at this point in the season, but to keep any odds alive, the Jackets need a win Wednesday.