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Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball: Georgia Preview

The Yellow Jackets Travel to Athens on the Heels of Back-to-Back Ranked Wins

Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB)

Matchup at a Glance

This year’s iteration of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate (Hardwood Edition) looks to be a remarkably even contest. Both teams feature feisty defenses and inefficient, perimeter-oriented offenses. In terms of rankings, Georgia Tech enters this matchup at 142nd in NET, 120th in KenPom, and 97th in BartTorvik. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, rank 148th, 82nd, and 107th, respectively. This will be only the second road game for the Yellow Jackets, who lost their first game away from McCamish Pavilion by a whopping 35 points against Cincinnati. On the other hand, Georgia has yet to lose on their home court, boasting a perfect 4-0 record in Athens with a quality win against Wake Forest. Because these teams are so similar, and because this is a rivalry game, I suspect this will be a rather close contest. This is the kind of matchup that is won or lost on the margins.

How Georgia Can Win

In short – experience and home-court advantage. This is an old group that has played a lot of basketball. They have been remarkably consistent in their performances this year and will likely not get rattled in the bigger moments of this game. If the hostile environment and intensity of this rivalry prove too much for the Georgia Tech freshmen, then the Bulldogs will win this game. Georgia also excels at drawing contact and getting to the line, which can help them make up for inefficiencies in their half-court offense.

How Georgia Tech Can Win

Hear me out... this is a Tyzhaun Claude game. I know, I know, Baye Ndongo just dominated Duke and looks like the second coming of Chris Bosh, but I think Claude’s rebounding can help the Yellow Jackets win this game. Georgia has been pretty lackluster on the backboards this season, and Claude is relentless on the offensive glass. If this team continues to not force opponents into turnovers, then they need to get extra possessions through offensive rebounding. Tyzhaun Claude was given a scholarship for games like this. I think he can bully the Bulldogs down low and steal a few extra possessions for the Yellow Jackets in a game that figures to be a defensive affair.

Players to Watch

Jabri Abdur-Rahim
Tony Walsh (UGA Athletics)

#1 Jabri Abdur-Rahim | 6’8 | F | Sr.

13.1 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 43% FG3 |

Georgia’s leading scorer, Abdur-Rahim is a lanky three-point specialist. He is very limited with the ball in his hands and struggles to score inside the arc, but he is deadly from deep. Tech will need to keep a man on him at all times, which will likely free up other Bulldogs to attack the interior.

#3 Noah Thomasson | 6’3 | G | Sr.

12.4 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 2.0 APG |

Thomasson transferred to Georgia by way of Niagara after leading the MAAC in scoring last season. He’s a crafty lefty who can score at all three levels and operates well both on and off the ball. Thomasson is not a particularly efficient scorer, but he’s the kind of guy who can make a play for himself or others when the offense begins to stagnate.

Prediction

This feels like a let-down spot for the Yellow Jackets as they travel for the first time following back-to-back wins against ranked opponents. I worry that the freshmen will struggle against this experienced Georgia team and the offense will return to its clunky, isolation-heavy form. I foresee this being a very close game, but I think the Bulldogs will be able to lean on their home crowd and experienced backcourt to scrape out a tough win.