The Yellow Jackets started 1-11 from the field and 1-6 from the free throw line, but ever so slowly crawled back over the course of the first half and went into the break down just three, in large part thanks to Pitt going just 1-11 from behind the arc. Over the course of the second half, both teams traded runs. Pitt had an 11-0 run followed by a 10-2 Tech run which was then followed up by another Pitt run. It took until the final seven minutes when Pitt started to pull away. With as little time as a minute left, it looked like the Panthers would have an easy win, but a couple of big scores by Josh Okogie and some Pitt mistakes let the Jackets get oh so close. Tech missed what felt like a hundred threes in the final minute, but still had a shot to tie or win it with just 1.4 seconds left. Unfortunately the inbound pass was off the mark and the Jackets fell 61-59.
The offense was a real problem for Georgia Tech today. As a team they shot 37% and spent many possessions failing to even sniff an open shot. For much of the game Tadric Jackson was the only one who was able to create anything offensively. He struggled late in the second half, including missing several three pointers in the final minute that would have given Tech a much better chance to win the game. He ended with 17 points on 8-21 shooting. Josh Okogie scored zero in the first half, but turned it on in the final minutes to give Tech a shot ending with 15 points on 4-11 from the field. He spent most of the game in foul trouble. Quinton Stephens struggled shooting the ball, and made a dumb play or two, but he was able to score 16 points on 5-15 shooting and added 10 rebounds including 4 offensive ones. Lammers really struggled on the offensive side this game. He ended with just 6 points on 3-9 shooting. It appears a season of long minutes has caught up to the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. His most valuable contributions were his presence in the middle of the defense and the 6 offensive rebounds that he grabbed. Heath added 5 points on 2-5 shooting. The Georgia Tech bench did not score a single point and shot just 0-1 from the field.
The Pitt bench hardly outplayed the GT bench. They scored just 3 points on 1-5 shooting combined. It was the Pitt starters that did all of the damage starting with Michael Young. He scored 17 points on 7-16 from the field. He was helped by Sheldon Jeter, Jamel Artis, and Chris Jones combined for another 36 points on average shooting, which was plenty enough for this game. There were very few times in this game when it looked like Georgia Tech would win. Pitt did a fantastic job at bouncing back every time the Jackets would make a big play.
So now what? This loss ends what little hope Tech had left of making the tournament. While unfortunate, getting a chance to be on the bubble in Pastner’s first season on the Flats is fantastic. This team way outperformed expectations and had some fantastic moments during the season. So now the Jackets are likely headed to the NIT for the second season in a row. Had we won this game, we likely would have gotten a top-two seed in the NIT and therefore a guaranteed home game, but I’m not so sure about that now. It is still possible that Georgia Tech is left out of the NIT, but I still think it is most likely that they are in.