Good Evening… After winning its first ACC tournament since 1993, the Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball team looked to start the season off with a win on Tuesday night. Despite moments of excitement, you can tell the team is going to take some time adjusting without last year’s ACC POY and last year’s ACC DPOY. The opponent was a scrappy, experienced team from Miami (OH) that gave Georgia Tech everything it wanted and more. And by more I mean it gave Tech its first loss of the season.
As expected, the starting lineup for the Jackets featured as much experience as possible with Kyle Sturdivant, Michael Devoe, Khalid Moore, Jordan Usher, and Rodney Howard running the show. Tech took control early, forcing a number of steals that led to fastbreak points while out-rebounding the Redhawks through the first portion of the game. This was very promising, as the absence of Moses Wright down low and the elimination of Alvarado’s sticky fingers were two of the biggest offseason concerns for the program. At the first TV timeout, Georgia Tech led 10-5, and Coach Pastner wasted little time rotating youth into the game.
Sophomore transfer Deivon Smith, true freshman Deebo Coleman, and true freshman Miles Kelly all played significant minutes throughout the entire game. Sophomore Saba Gigiberia rotated in at center quite a bit, as well. After jumping out to that 5-point lead, Tech would extend the lead to 8 before fouls and sloppy turnovers started to pile up. Miami would go on an 11-2 run before the third official timeout of the half to take a 24-23 lead. Thanks to Devoe’s first half shooting and some equally sloppy play by Miami, Georgia Tech hung around and was able to tie the game 33-33 at half. Devoe finished the first half with 18 points and 2 rebounds, while going 6-11 from the field and 4-6 from deep.
The second half was a slightly different story. After the break, Miami Forward Dalonte Brown hit some big three pointers to take momentum early. But Georgia Tech didn’t go away quietly. A six-point Redhawk lead at the first official timeout of the frame was erased thanks to some stingy defense by the Jackets. Over the course of the game, Miami only shot 39% from the field, 19% from 3-point land, and turned the ball over 8 times. The problem is - Georgia Tech’s numbers weren’t much better...
With 11:31 remaining, the Jackets held a 51-48 lead and would extend that lead to 7 over the next minute of play. From there, however, inconsistent shooting and more costly turnovers let Miami right back into the game. In the final ten and a half minutes of play, the Jackets had three scoring droughts of 2:09, 1:34, and 2:29.......
That last drought would prove to be the killer as Tech squandered away a 6-point lead thanks to some non-existent defense and some head-scratching offense. As the Georgia Tech lead dwindled down to one point, Jordan Usher missed a floater with 38 seconds remaining, Miami’s PG Mekhi Lairy hit a layup with 12 seconds left, and then Coach Pastner called two straight timeouts to put together a pretty ugly attempt to win the game. Deivon Smith’s missed shot fell into the hands of a Miami player, we fouled, and they hit their free throws. Mekhi Lairy gave Tech problems all night long. He’s a small player, only standing 5’8”, but he made Tech’s defense look even smaller.
Tech won the boards 44-34, which is a positive thing, but at the end of the day there is still a lot to replace in the paint. Rodney Howard has some work to do offensively. Quickness isn’t his strength, and there were a few times he fumbled some passes that could have easily led to high percentage shots. He did finish with a double-double (10 pts, 13 rebs). Devoe was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points, but he had three turnovers of his own, and only scored 8 of those points in the second half. Deebo Coleman fouled out of his first college basketball game. Welcome to the show. The only good thing about this loss is that it didn’t go to 4OT. Maybe this means we’ll win another ACC Tournament?
Georgia Tech hits the court again on Friday 11/12 at 7:30PM against the Stetson Hatters (I guess because Stetson Hat?). Go Jackets!