Most of this game was spent within a couple of possessions of one another, in large part because neither team could score. There were also very few fouls called until later in the second half, so this became a very quick moving game of teams missing shots and turning the ball over. They turned the ball over a lot. Both teams dropped easy passes and threw the basketball directly at the wrong team. It was certainly an ugly game. With about 7 minutes left in the game, both teams turned it on a little. Okogie started playing offense and Lammers was making big plays, while on the other end, the Panthers were hitting just enough three pointers to stay in the game. In the end though, the Jackets kept up the offensive pressure , made some big stops, made some free throws and pulled away for a mostly comfortable win. All of the seniors got a chance to come in with for the final couple of seconds.
Both teams have notoriously short rotations, and both lived up to their reputations today. Georgia Tech’s bench added just 8 points on 4-15 from the field and Corey Heyward only played a couple of minutes despite starting and added just 1 extra point. Pitt’s bench outdid them by scoring 1 point on 0-7 shooting and starter Chris Jones only added 3 more points.
For Georgia Tech it was all about Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie. Lammers scored 20 points on an efficient 8-13 from the field and made some huge plays down the stretch to give Tech the lead. Okogie was silent most of the game, but came on strong down the stretch to hit a huge and-1 layup as well as the sealing free throws. He ended with 14 points on 5-9 shooting. Josh Heath and Quinton Stephens both made some terrible errors, Heath had 5 turnovers and Stephens took some...ill advised shots. But, they each added 9 points to a team that was struggling to score all day.
For Pitt it was Michael Young, Cam Johnson, and Jamel Artis doing most of the work. The three combined for 41 points, but none of them shot particularly well. Only Cam Johnson was above 50% from the field at 5-10. Artis and Young made big shot after big shot from inside the arc, but combined for only 2-9 from deep. As a team, Pitt shot just 37.7% from the field and 30.4% from beyond the arc. Credit Georgia Tech’s stingy defense, particularly Lammers’ presence down low, but Pitt looked totally lost on offense for much of the game.
This game was played in front of one last loud crowd at McCamish. The last several games have seen McCamish the loudest I have ever heard it. Hopefully the crowd momentum continues next season.
Losing today would have been a huge blow to Tech’s tournament hopes, but a win here keeps them more or less exactly where they were, right on the bubble. If anything, the Jackets are probably still on the outside looking in. A win in their final regular season game at Syracuse on Saturday would certainly put them on the right side of the bubble. The Jackets are now at 8-9 in ACC play which is downright impressive in one of the two best conferences in America. A win would give them their first .500 record in the ACC since 2006-07.