Georgia Tech suffered its first loss of the season on Wednesday night, falling 82-78 at Stegeman Coliseum. It was the fifth straight COFH loss for the Jackets (2-1, 1-0) despite an outstanding effort from Michael Devoe who had a game high 34 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs (4-0) were led by a strong effort from Rayshaun Hammonds who led the team with both with 26 points and 9 boards. Most of the first half felt like a duel between both him and Devoe but the secondary scoring that emerged for uga as the game progressed proved to be vital. Five-star freshman Anthony Edwards lived up to the hype in this one despite a slow start, finishing with 18 points and 8 rebounds while showing off his offensive versatility. The dogs also got double digit scoring from senior guards Donnell Gresham (13) and Tyree Crump (11) as uga started to adjust to Tech’s 1-3-1 zone after looking stagnant and confused on offense early.
As dominant of a game as it was for Devoe, he did not get a lot of his help from his contemporaries. Moses Wright had 18 and 8 to match Edwards but the vast majority of that production came in the second half and just one other Jacket finished with more than five points (Bubba Parham had 10). Leader and floor general, Jose Alvarado, was clearly hampered by an ankle injury he carried into this game and probably shouldn’t have played at all. He finished with just 2 points and 2 assists on 1-6 shooting in 19 minutes and generally was ineffective on both ends of the floor. James Banks was a stalwart again on defense as he had 6 blocks but scored just four points including an 0-4 performance from the foul line. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just Banks who struggled from the stripe, an area that plagued the Jackets all night and was ultimately the difference in the game. Tech finished 13-24 from the line including a 3-10 effort in the first half.
- Michael Devoe might have broken out for good tonight. I picked him to make Second Team All-ACC in a bit of a bold take as part of our site predictions but he might just make good on that. He is so good off the pick and roll, creating opportunities to score for both himself and others and showed an added dimension to his game with 10 rebounds tonight.
- Another popular prediction among our staff was for James Banks to win ACC Defensive Player of the Year. After another 6 block effort, there’s no reason why Banks can’t win National Defensive POY. His length and ability to contest shots at the rim in simply staggering and his value to Tech on defense is invaluable.
- Poor free throw shooting has been a staple among recent Tech teams and it reared its ugly head again tonight. You can’t give away that many free points and expect to beat good teams. Given that Tech out shot uga from both 2 and 3, its even more disappointing to lose the game at the line.
- We’re beating a dead horse here but the Jackets had 15 turnovers tonight. They were mostly dead ball turnovers so uga was not able to capitalize with many fast break points, but it did allow them to get an edge in overall shot opportunities. Once again Tech is simply not good enough in half court offense to just give away possessions.
- The Jackets only had 7 assists on 29 made baskets. This isn’t great against a coach in Tom Crean whose teams are generally known for their porous defense. While they did finish with 78 points, this goes to illustrate that their half-court offense just wasn’t flowing all that smoothly tonight. Certainly not having a healthy Alvardo did not help.
- Moses Wright is an enigma at this point. In the first half we saw the epitome of Bad Moses: turnovers, lazy fouls and bizarre decision making. But after halftime, Good Moses emerged from the locker room and he started to dominate in the paint, the area of the court that he should be attacking from at all times. It would be great if we could get that version of Moses all of the time or at least more often.
- Coach Pastner constantly preaches hustle plays but for whatever reason, those plays swung strongly in the favor of uga tonight. It may have just been bad luck and not a result of a lack of effort, but Tech could not seem to grab a loose ball to save its life.
The Turning Point
Tech had a rough five-minute stretch to end the half and give the dogs a 35-27 lead which they never relinquished. At the 5-minute mark GT led 25-22 before going on a shooting slump for the Jackets that included five missed free throws and signs that Edwards was starting to find his footing. He ultimately parlayed that into a strong second half.