This has been a topsy-turvy week for Tech basketball. First on Monday Tech was taken down at home by the Gardner Webb Bulldogs. It wasn’t a close game that Tech should have won, Gardner Webb was simply the better team that day. The team was able to come back with a huge road win against Arkansas. James Banks and Jose Alvarado carried the team and helped them gut out a close win against a solid team. Now Tech welcomes Georgia in a huge game as the teams head towards conference play.
Georgia came into the season looking like it would be a rebuilding year. They returned a fair amount, but they lost their best player and only consistent scorer, Yante Maten. Most of Georgia’s production is coming from returning players, some who have taken a big step up and some who have stagnated. Despite a team that looks fairly familiar, the team has a new look thanks to new head coach Tom Crean. Georgia has started off the season with few surprises. They have comfortably beaten every team they were expected to beat, but they have lost all four of their games against teams in the top 150 of kenpom. They lost close at Temple and at home against Arizona State, but got blown out by Clemson and Georgia State. The computer rankings aren’t big fans of Georgia with kenpom ranking them 126th in the country (Tech is 81st).
Georgia plays big. Often very big. About 40% of the time they play with a 6’4” point guard and a 6’8” small forward. They also run deep, generally playing nine players significant minutes. Their strength lies in their big men. SF/PF Rayshaun Hammonds is Georgia’s best player. He averages 15 points and 7 rebounds a game on 55% shooting (45% from deep). He’s joined by center Nicolas Claxton and power forward Derek Ogbeide in the front court. Both of them are solid players who are capable scorers and decent rebounds. Claxton is also a good shot blocker. James Banks dominated the interior against Arkansas and he needs to step up to the challenge again.
In the backcourt the Bulldogs are led by junior guard Tyree Crump. He provides a three point threat from the backcourt, hitting 43.5% from deep. He is very inconsistent though, so he could hit 10 threes or get shutout. Senior William Jackson and freshmen Tye Fagan take the reigns at point guard. Neither of them score much and they both struggle with turnovers, particularly Fagan. Teshaun Hightower, Jordan Harris, and E’Torrion Wilridge should see some minutes, and we may even see deeper into the bench.
As a team, Georgia has a respectable defense at 87th in the country, but the offense struggles at 174th in the nation (Tech’s is 210th). The Bulldogs are fantastic at interior defense with teams only shooting 42.5% against them inside the arc (20th in the nation). That’s a bad matchup because Tech doesn’t have the perimeter shooting to make up for it when they can’t get baskets inside. Offensively Georgia is actually decent at most things, but they just turn the bal way to much. They are 320th in the nation turning the ball over on 22.5% of their possessions. Tech’s active defense could take advantage there.
The game takes place at McCamish Pavilion at noon on ESPNU. Georgia Tech is a 5.5 point favorite. I predict that Georgia has a big run at some point in the game, but otherwise Tech’s defense shuts them down and the offense does enough to get the win. What’s The Good Word?