Georgia Tech came into this game looking for a fourth straight win in a game that the Jackets were heavily favored. Sloppy play, poor shooting, and lackluster defense let the Buccaneers stay in the game and a clutch three pointer by ETSU with .9 seconds left secured the win for the Buccaneers.
This game was ugly from the start. The referees were calling a very tight game and there were long stretches of the game when neither team could buy a basket. The Jackets found themselves down early, spotting ETSU a 19-12 lead. The Jackets turned it around by getting the ball into the post and letting Nick Jacobs and Charles Mitchell go after the smaller Buccaneer front line. By half the Jackets had given themselves a five point lead, 32-27.
GT missed many opportunities to pull away. They would make a nice play or two before making a silly mistake and letting ETSU storm back. With one minute left in the game, the Yellow Jackets led by 1. A huge block by James White gave GT the ball back and the Yellow Jackets used the whole clock before Marcus Georges-Hunt drove baseline and slammed it home. Georgia Tech decided that with a three point lead they would foul ETSU to make them shoot free throws for it. ETSU point guard Ge'Lawn Guyn made both free throws to bring them within one with 8 seconds remaining. On the inbound, Marcus Georges-Hunt was fouled sending him to the line for some huge free throws. MGH missed the front end, but made the second free throw to give Tech a two point lead. Guyn then hit a huge 3 pointer over Nick Jacobs with 1 second remaining to win the game for ETSU 69-68.
It really seems like teams shoot 90% on buzzer beaters against Tech. They actually defended the play pretty well, Nick Jacobs contested the shot pretty well, but Guyn just made a huge play. Once again GT finds themselves on the losing of a close game.
Georgia Tech played poorly both offensively and defensively. They had success by dumping the ball into the post and letting Mitchell and Jacobs work against the big men for ETSU. Georgia Tech was carried offensively by Georges-Hunt in the second half. He ended up with 20 points on 5-8 shooting. On the other hand, Adam Smith shot just 4-15 and 2-7 from three while the bench only contributed 15 points. Tech needed somebody to hit some big shots but the shots weren't falling.
Defensively the team struggled to contain the guards for the Buccaneers. The three starting guards, led by Guyn with 24 points, accounted for 48 of ETSU's 69 points. They had little problem getting past the Tech guards and punished Tech when the help defender left their man. Tech did out-rebound the Bucs, but it sometimes felt like they should have been getting even more rebounds against a smaller ETSU team.
Looking forward this team needs to find more scorers. Between Josh Heath and our five bench players, not one of them scored more than five points. I am confident that Adam Smith will improve his shooting over the course of the year, but this was the second game this year where Smith kept shooting despite poor results and was a drag on the offense. Defensively this team needs to improve on the perimeter. East Tennessee State was getting fantastic penetration all day long and were forcing help defenders to come way off their man.
Georgia Tech now heads to Brooklyn to face Arkansas on Thanksgiving and either Stanford or #11 Villanova on Saturday.