This was two very frustrating halves of basketball for two different reasons. In the first half Florida State’s high pressure defense gave the Yellow Jackets absolute fits. GT had a whole slew of terrible turnovers and ended up putting up a whole slew of bad shots with the shot clock running out. Florida State finished the first half up 32-19.
Then in the second half Georgia Tech’s offense found a groove. The ballhandlers made the Seminoles pay when they were over-aggressive and the shooters started hitting some threes. But it didn’t matter. Every time GT made a big basket FSU came right back and made a few buckets of their own. Both teams shot well over 50% in the second half. At one point an FSU driver lost his balance and chucked up a prayer just before he hit the floor which fell in.
One major difference in this game was free throw shooting. Georgia Tech was just 13-25 from the free throw line while FSU shot 13-17. Possibly the most disheartening part of the game came with just under 4 minutes left. GT had gotten the lead down to 9 and Miles Kelly drove to the rim and picked up the foul for two shots. But, he fell into the camerapeople and was down for a minute. Damon Stoudamire came onto the court to check on Kelly which meant that he had to come out of the game (despite the fact it was the under-4 timeout). That meant that FSU got to pick the free throw shooter. They picked Tafare Gapare who missed both of them. The Seminoles scored on the following possession. GT never felt like they had a shot after that.
There were some positives for GT. Miles Kelly shot 3-6 from deep (7-15 total for 18 points). This team relies on his deep shooting and he looked in classic form today. Kowacie Reeves also had a good game. He was one of the players who didn’t look too flushed by FSU’s pressure. He made some huge three pointers with under five minutes left in the game and had some good drives and also was steady when helping to break the full court press. Baye Ndongo had a familiar game. His defense made a difference inside and his offensive rebounding prowess forced FSU to crash the glass hard. But he struggled with the ball in traffic and shot just 4-8 from the line.
Florida State was their classic Leonard Hamilton led team. They played 10 players, most of whom are lanky, and pressed hard on defense. It led to a lot of problems for the Yellow Jackets and by the time the youngsters started getting more comfortable in the game it was too late. They shot well, from both deep and the free throw line, which made up for some sloppiness on the offensive end.
Georgia Tech is now 1-1 in the ACC. This was the start of their easiest stretch of the ACC season. Their next game is at McCamish on Saturday, January 6th at 4 pm followed up by another home game against Notre Dame on Tuesday, January 9th at 9 pm. If they want to make a run at anything they need to win both of these games.