How can you not love this team? Whether it's because you love watching Charles Mitchell get pumped up after he makes a huge hustle play to grab a rebound with less than 2 minutes remaining or you love watching Adam Smith rain threes over defenders who thought they played him close enough. Whether you like watching Nick Jacobs working in the post like so few can anymore or of course watching Marcus Georges-Hunt make clutch play after clutch play this team is one of Tech's most likable teams in a long time.
This game got off to a slow start for the Jackets as Pitt got three quick baskets and GT wasn't taking very good shots. They quickly came back and the Jackets ended up leading for much of the first half. Pitt went on a big run with under five minutes as MGH headed to the bench with 2 fouls and Michael Young got hot. Pitt got their lead up to 9, before a Mitchell tip-in at the halftime buzzer. In the second half GT started chipping away at the Panthers' lead. They slowly but surely came back and actually briefly took the lead at the 13 minute mark thanks to a Smith three. Neither team played very well offensively and it made for a game where every basket was important. A Smith three pointer gave Tech the lead again with 8:20 left, and one more Smith three-pointer gave Tech the lead at 6:30 left, a lead they would not relinquish. Georgia Tech would only score 5 points in the final five and a half minutes, but Pitt couldn't buy a basket either. An Adam Smith three and then two free throws gave Tech a four point lead with only 30 seconds left, but Pitt couldn't buy a basket. Huge rebounds by Lammers and Mitchell prevented any second chances, even if both missed the front end of the one-and-one on the other end. An ugly Pitt three fell way short at the buzzer as McCamish went crazy.
Adam Smith was huge going 5 for 7 from behind the arc, including 4 clutch threes with a man in his face, for a team-high 23 points. Nick Jacobs ended up only 6-14 from the field, but he was fighting a very physical Pitt interior, was a rebound machine (12 boards), drew several big fouls, and hit his free throws (7-9). He ended with 19 points. Marcus Georges-Hunt did not have his best game, 3-10 for 10 points, but he added 7 assists and a couple of big rebounds and steals. Those three accounted for almost the entire offense. Mitchell got 6 points on just 3-9 shooting although he got 11 rebounds, Quinton Stephens went 0-6 although he had a monster block on Michael Young, Tadric Jackson had three ugly turnovers, and James White and Ben Lammers played decent defense but not much on offense. This team played ok defensively, but they got very lucky that Pitt missed a lot of open shots. They struggled on the pick and roll as usual but did a pretty good job of keeping Pitt to one chance.
Pitt today was all about Michael Young. He went 10-16 for 24 points and was a beast all over the floor. Once again, GT let the opposing star go off in the first half before denying him in the second half. Young only had 6 of his points in the second half. Sheldon Jeter had a strong second half and ended with 12 points on 4-9 shooting and 7 rebounds. James Robinson added 9 points on 4-10 shooting while Chris Jones and Jameel Artis each added 6. The most notable stat from Pitt was that they did not hit a single three this game, going 0-11 from deep. Pitt shoots 35% from three for the season, so this was a big aberration. If they hit a couple threes it's a totally different game. Both teams struggled from the field and both ended up at 39.3%.
This was the final home game for five seniors, barring a home NIT game, so it was a little sad to see so few people at the game supporting these players. All of them got big ovations at the ceremony, especially Georges-Hunt, and all got plenty of playing time in their final game. Thank you James White for your hustle and your monster blocks and put back dunks and rebounding that gave us a strong player of the bench. Thank you Adam Smith for your insane three point shooting that gave our offense another dimension as well as your clutch free throws that have secured several wins for the Jackets. Thanks Nick Jacobs for your fire and effort every time on the court and one of the being one of the best post scorers that Tech has seen in a long time. Thank you Charles Mitchell for bringing a smile to the court every game and a nearly uncontrollable energy and monster rebounding. And thank you most of all to Marcus Georges-Hunt for sticking around through some dark years and bringing hope to Tech fans and leading this team in every way the last two seasons. You stepped up when Tech needed more scoring, you stepped up when they needed a lockdown defender, you stepped up when they needed a point guard, and you stepped up every time Georgia Tech needed a shot to win. Thank you.
Next the Yellow Jackets head to Washington DC for the ACC tournament. They will play either Syracuse or Pitt in the second round so their first game will be on Wednesday the 9th. Go Jackets!