If you’re having déjà vu, you aren’t alone. After winning so many close games last season, including a buzzer beating victory against Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets got things done again tonight. Trailing by one, Ben Lammers inbounded the ball to Jose Alvarado under the Yellow Jackets own basket. Alvarado brought the ball up the court, faked a pass to Lammers, turned around and found Tadric Jackson. For a second, Jackson feigned like he was pulling up for a three before he drove to the hoop and finished the ball through contact as the clock expired, subsequently being mobbed by his teammates. All in a glorious 7.1 seconds.
After leading for the majority of the game, the Jackets had finally stretched their lead to double digits as we hit the under-8 media timeout. Things looked like they were well in control, but that was when Northwestern went on a 12-0 run, capitalizing on six Tech turnovers during that span to take a two point 49-47 lead. The Jackets weren’t done yet though and answered with an Abdoulaye Gueye free throw and two Lammers free throws to go back up one. With under thirty seconds to go, Northwestern had the chance to take the lead and with just seven seconds remaining, they grabbed an offensive rebound and hit an open layup to put the Jackets back down by one. And that was when, with all of McCamish Pavilion on their feet, Tadric Jackson gave the Jackets a massive victory.
The Georgia Tech defense deserves the game ball in this one. Northwestern came into the game shooting over 45%, but were held to just 36% on the evening. Additionally, NU attempted just five free throws compared to twenty for the Yellow Jackets. Scottie Lindsey, the Wildcats best offensive threat, was averaging nearly 18 points per game coming into tonight, but was held scoreless on 0-8 shooting.
One area where the Jackets were dominated and what ended up almost losing them the game was turnovers. Tech turned the ball over 15 times compared to just six for Northwestern. As expected with a young group, taking care of the ball has been an issue all season and will need to be shored up as the season goes along.
Ben Lammers once again led the Yellow Jackets in scoring, but my offensive MVP of the night goes to Curtis Haywood II, who hit all three of his field goals, including a pair of massive threes to stretch the Tech lead near the end of the first half. Jose Alvarado and Tadric Jackson both had off nights from the floor, combining to go just 7-23, but worked together to make the most important play of the night. As a team, the Jackets went 16-20 from the free throw line.
Tonight’s game was part of the annual ACC/BIG 10 Challenge and Tech’s victory put the ACC up 3-0. The ACC is looking for just their second challenge win since 2009 (1-5-2 during that span).