Georgia Tech got the win in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic with a 74-60 win over Boise State. This game was tight at half, but Georgia Tech dominated the second half and cruised to a 14 point victory.
In the first half Georgia Tech’s offense has looked much like they have all season. Sluggish offensively with little off-ball movement, struggling shooting, and turning the ball over. Then they put up 48 points in the second half. People were moving without the ball, shots were being made, offensive rebounds were leading to easy points. Just absolute night and day.
I want to highlight three players for Tech who had a huge day. Moses Wright scored 18 points on 7-7 shooting, had 9 rebounds (3 offensive), and had three blocks. He played hard all game and his one struggle this game was his three charges (which led to him fouling out). Jordan Usher struggled in his first game against Ball State, but came up huge today. He had 18 points on 6-10 shooting and 7 boards. He was constantly making cuts and trying to make plays offensively and brought a huge energy boost to this team. His only downside today was his defense, particularly in the zone. He looked sluggish getting to his spots and wasn’t totally comfortable in transferring his man to one of the guards when he came up off the wing. That may have been one reason why Tech spent the last 37 minutes in man defense. And finally Tech welcomed back Jose Alvarado. Jose didn’t dominate the stat sheet (14 points on 4-13 shooting), but he came out pumped up. His energy was infectious and Tech needed him on the floor. He let Michael Devoe and Bubba Parham play off the ball more and he also hit two dagger threes to maintain the lead when it looked like Boise State might come back late. His most noticeable play was earlier in the game when Boise State’s point guard tried to bring the ball up the floor, but Jose tipped the ball out of his hands three times and knocked it out of bounds forcing Boise State to start a possession with just 13 seconds on the shot clock.
The usual GT bugaboos were still there. Three point shooting was atrocious, just 5-23 (21.7%). Devoe was 0-6 and maybe only one or two of those was even close. Hopefully it was just some jet lag for him. This was a physical game, but GT gave more than they got and that’s why they ended up with 26 fouls. Moses Wright, Michael Devoe, and Bubba Parham all fouled out and Khalid Moore and Jordan Usher played most of the game in foul trouble. This team does not have the depth to do that.
Boise State found some success with Derrick Alston (16 points on 6-13 shooting) and Abu Kigab (17 points on 4-12 shooting). However point guard Justinian Jessup, who averages 16 points per game, was just 1-11 for three points. He never felt comfortable and it sunk the Broncos.
Next Georgia Tech takes on Houston who demolished Portland in their opener. Houston is a team that the computers really like (kenpom has them 31st in the country), but their results so far haven’t bared that out. They blew out South Carolina away, which was nice, but they lost to BYU and Oklahoma State at home. Not huge losses, but given their lack of quality wins so far it isn’t great. They are led by a trio of guards, Quentin Grimes (formerly of Kansas), Nate Hinton, and Caleb Mills. This should be a little bit of strength on strength. Expect Houston to be favored by about 10.