Things looked good at halftime for Georgia Tech, as they went to the locker room with a 35-32 lead. However, the Panthers had a big second half of 49 points and would finish the game with the win.
The Jackets (10-7, 1-3) were pushed around for most of the game by a larger Pitt (16-1, 4-0) team, and weren't helped by a depleted group. Already missing Travis Jorgenson and Robert Carter Jr, Tech was without Solomon Poole for the second straight game due to migraines, and Jason Morris missed after starting the last few games due to a concussion suffered in a car accident this weekend. With Carter out, Kammeon Holsey had a major task on hand of trying to help Daniel Miller to stop Pittsburgh's big men in the paint. However, Holsey got into foul trouble early in the game, as did his replacement Quinton Stephens, leaving Stacey Poole Jr. to play in the 4-spot.
Unsurprisingly, things didn't end well. Georgia Tech lost the rebounding battle by a final margin of 38-18, by far their worst deficit of the season and extremely indicative of the size difference they were up against.
Tech went with an 8-man rotation (starters were Miller, Holsey, MGH, Golden, and Bolden, reserves were Stephens, Poole Jr., and Heyward), and by the end of the game the players were exhausted. It was an incredibly gutsy effort where the guys showed a lot of heart, but it wouldn't be enough to win. Trae Golden led with 22 points, Georges-Hunt had 13, and Miller and Holsey both contributed 12. A major bright spot, Daniel Miller contributed 5 blocks -- he's 6th in the ACC with 2.13 blocks per game, and has 9 in his last two games now.
The major takeaways here are that Pittsburgh is a really good team that's going to give a lot of people issues, and that Georgia Tech's players are dropping like flies, leading to growing deficiencies. I truly believe that at full strength, Tech wins that game tonight. Robert Carter Jr. would have done wonders in providing an extra inside presence, and Solomon Poole could have provided an offensive spark at some of the lulls in Tech's offensive production.
The other glaringly obvious issue that I'm seeing is Tech's continued lack of offensive identity. Some teams like to shoot three-pointers (Duke), some teams use the dribble-drive effectively (Louisville), and some teams thrive by feeding their big men (Pittsburgh). Tech does none of those, and seems to make it up as they go on each possession. There is no dominant offensive big man without Carter, there is no sharpshooting guard or forward, and Trae Golden isn't particularly effective at anything but drawing fouls when on the dribble-drive. This issue has been one going back to last season at least, and it will continue to hold back this team until it's resolved.
Tech's next game is at home on Saturday, against Miami at 2pm. The Hurricanes have made a fantastically awful turnaround from their #3-seed last season, and should be very beatable for the Yellow Jackets.
Did you watch the game tonight? Thoughts on Georgia Tech's performance? How far is this team from returning to dominance in the ACC?