Georgia Tech will take on Boise St (6-4) in the opener of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Jackets are looking to bounce back after an embarrassing 18 point loss to Ball State at home. Head coach Leon Rice’s squad has already suffered losses to New Mexico, UC Irvine, and Tulsa. On paper, this is a winnable game, but Tech is struggling. The Jackets have dropped 3 straight all by double digits and worst of all the effort has been questionable in multiple games. The confidence in Pastner is certainly waning, and the players are trying to play iso ball, which is certainly not their strength. If the Jackets want to attempt to right the seemingly sinking ship, the Boise St game is a must win. Tech needs to have an impressive showing in this tournament for the players and fans to get confidence back in the team.
Alston is the leading scorer for the Broncos, averaging 21.2 points per game while playing 35.2 minutes per game. Alston leads the team in 3-point percentage (40.3), while shooting 6.7 per game. The junior guard pairs well with Justinian Jessup, giving the Broncos a lethal 3-point duo.
Jessup is a volume 3-point shooter making 3.3 per game, which is good for 16th in the country. The 6’6 senior guard also shoots it at a high clip, 39.3%. Jessup averages 16.2 points, but also contributes with rebounds (4.6), assists (2.1), and steals (1.6). The 3-point marksman will be a tough guard for either Khalid Moore or Jordan Usher.
Kigab is an Oregon transfer, who became eligible at the end of the fall semester. His first opportunity to play with his new team will be against the Jackets. The 6’6 forward is known for his defensive ability and rebounding. This is especially important for the Broncos because they struggle in those areas. Boise St allows 69.7 points per game (201st in the country) and 35.6 rebounds per game (206th in the country). Kigab’s high motor figures to improve on these statistics.
Points per Game: 80.4 (31st in the country)
Turnovers: 11.8 (38th in the country)
3-pt Field Goal Defense: 29.3% (52nd in the country)
3-pt Field Goal Percentage: 36% (89th in the country)
Blocks per Game: 1.5 (345th in the country)
Offensive Rebounds per Game: 7.8 (310th in the country)
Field Goal Percentage Allowed: 44.7% (269th in the country)
Turnovers Forced per Game: 13.5 (222nd in the country)
This game is so hard to predict because I have no idea what team is going to show up. In general the Jackets have been lacking effort and pressing lately. Even Georgia Tech’s best player, Michael Devoe, is really struggling. Through the first 6 games Devoe was on fire, but is averaging use 7.7 points per game on 21.6% shooting. With the offense stagnant, he has been pressing and taking forced shots. Jordan Usher’s debut also did not go as planned with more turnovers than points and 1 for 7 from the field. I refuse to believe that Jordan Usher will show up again. He’s much better than that and I believe it’s partially Pastner’s fault for thrusting him in the starting lineup in his first game back. The trip to Hawaii will define Georgia Tech’s season and probably will determine if Coach Pastner will remain the head coach beyond this season. Call me a homer, but I think the Jackets respond after getting embarrassed at home. I believe Devoe returns to form with 20+ points, Usher fills up the stat sheets, and the stifling Jacket defense returns by limiting Jessup and Alston from the 3-point line. Tech wins by 8.