Posted: 11:36 am Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

7 takeaways from Tech-Pittsburgh 

By Ken Sugiura

Georgia Tech forward Marcus Georges-Hunt (3) is fouled as Pittsburgh's Michael Young (2) and Cameron Wright, (3), right, defend in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech forward Marcus Georges-Hunt (3) is fouled as Pittsburgh’s Michael Young (2) and Cameron Wright (3) during Tech’s 81-74 loss to Pittsburgh at McCammish Pavilion in Atlanta.

Thoughts and observations from Tech’s 81-74 loss to Pittsburgh Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion. Game story here.

1. Not a great game for Tech. The Yellow Jackets controlled the action early, and took a 35-30 lead late in the first half. Tech pushed the ball well and, not surprisingly shot it well. The Jackets finished the first half shooting 48.1 percent from the field, about four points above their average.

For a few different reasons, it was easy to wonder if it could be sustained. One, Tech ordinarily doesn’t shoot that well for a game. Two, the Jackets were profiting from mistakes that Pittsburgh typically doesn’t make. (The Panthers had seven first-half turnovers, compared to their season game average of 9.8. Tech converted those mistakes into 11 points.) Three, Tech was getting beat up on the glass.

Photos: Tech hosts Pitt at McCammish Pavilion

Indeed, Tech didn’t function as well offensively in the second half – after scoring on the first possession, the Jackets scored once in their next eight trips down the floor with three turnovers.

That gave Pittsburgh the fuel for a 9-0 run that gave the Panthers a lead they never relinquished. Pittsburgh did turn the ball over another seven times in the second half, although four of them were in the final three minutes, when the game was essentially decided. And the decisive advantage on the glass continued.

With 12 offensive rebounds, Pittsburgh scored 21 second-chance points to 11 for Tech.

2. That said, this was the best team that Tech has faced this season and might be the best team the Jackets play this year outside of Syracuse. There isn’t a lot of shame in losing to this outfit. Pitt has a terrific point guard in James Robinson (16 points on seven shots, five assists, one turnover, four steals,three rebounds). The Panthers defend well and, obviously, go hard on the glass.

“Hustle plays, that’s one thing they did great,” forward Marcus Georges-Hunt said. “They dove on the floor, got on the floor before we did. We were a step slow.”

Tech prides itself on its rebounding, and the Jackets were crushed on the boards, 38-18. Pitt had as many offensive rebounds as Tech did defensive rebounds, 12. It was Tech’s lowest rebound total since at least the 2000-01 season.

“You can make excuses with the injuries or whatever the case may be, but you’ve got to fight on the glass, and we didn’t have that, so I’m disappointed in that,” coach Brian Gregory said.

3. The injuries (Tech played without forwards Robert Carter and Jason Morris and guards Travis Jorgenson and Solomon Poole) were a factor, as was foul trouble. Carter was averaging 9.3 rebounds per game at the time of his injury, a rate that still leads the ACC. Bug I don’t think energy or fatigue was a defining issue. While Gregory only had eight scholarship players at his disposal, Pitt also only used eight players (with a ninth getting four minutes).

The other three players out, Jorgenson (ACL) and Poole (migraine) and Morris (concussion resulting from a car accident), aren’t exceptional rebounders, but the absences forced Tech to shift players out of normal roles. Stacey Poole, for instance, who typically plays the shooting guard and small forward spots and lately hasn’t been getting much time, played 17 minutes, some of it at power forward.

Further, Quinton Stephens fouled out in just 10 minutes and Kammeon Holsey played only 23 minutes. Tech out-rebounded its opponent in its first 15 games (the Maryland game was the 15th, one game after Carter was lost with his torn meniscus), but has been out-rebounded twice in the past three games.

4. Tech showed some fight, lowering Pittsburgh’s lead from a maximum of 14 points to seven with 1:20 left and the ball and four with 29 seconds after two Trae Golden free throws. But that wasn’t nearly enough.

The win over Notre Dame showed what can happen when the Jackets combine effort with execution. Particularly for as long as Poole and Morris are out, it’s going to be a rough ride. It’s possible both could be back for Saturday’s game against Miami, but it’s no certainty.

5. Corey Heyward did well in limited time again. He was on the floor for a 13-5 run at the end of the first half in which he assisted on two baskets, got a steal and scored on a layup. He looks increasingly comfortable and confident. He has a long way to go – Gregory thinks he won’t be fully back to himself until next season – but he’s showing promise of becoming a valuable piece of the puzzle.

“I think he’s coming on pretty good for us,” Gregory said of Heyward. It was, I imagine, a meaningful game for Heyward. His late father, NFL Pro Bowler Craig Heyward, played his college ball at Pitt. I’d have to think there were a few people on the Pitt side watching his hard-nosed play with a little bit of nostalgia.

6. Pretty good showing by the student section. The end zone was entirely full and students stayed until the end of the game, even though it appeared to be over when Pitt went up by 14 with 5:56 to go.

7. Gregory on the series of injuries: “It’s hard, but for some reason, we’re being put through these tests, and you need to stay strong, you need to stay positive. During these times, you can’t compromise your standards of what’s important to the program. As much as you’d like to slack up a little bit, you can’t do that, because these are the times that you build your character up and these are the times that you’re actually building the strength of your program. So you need to stick to what you know is going to be important, no matter who’s out there. I think our guys understand that.”

19 comments
Jim70
Jim70

I love golden driving to the basket.  the last few guards we have who did that ended up getting swatted with no foul and no basket.


Play Quinton, Poole and Hayward more, sit Bolden until he can prove he can make shots.  not like price or Scott who could shoot themselves out of a slump.  Bolden's  good game is a slump.


Need to hit the boards and box out on defense.  rarely do we crash the boards on offense, would be understandable if we were a great shooting team with most shots going in, but we all know that isn't the case. 

BigTimeJacketFan
BigTimeJacketFan

Its like you teach your Church League team - follow your shot.  We do not do that at all, so we tend to minimize our rebounders on the offensive end.


Hope Lammers and Sampson are ready to go next year. 

WillP7004
WillP7004

Simply put...I agree with GTBee.  We are NOT getting better.  I had predicted 0 for the ACC.  ND was a shock for me.  Just very disheartened in the state of Tech BB.  Since the final four team under CPH, there simply hasn't been much to maintain excitement over.  I thought new coach BG would bring renewed hope and energy.  It's season 3 now.  I simply do not see it.

juvenal
juvenal

extension curse hereby exorcized........Paul, S Ham imploding........

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

@kvnryn , Golden is our leading scorer, plays more minutes than anyone else.  He has hit the game wining shot in our last 2 wins.  We have 1 other guy on the team to back him up, a RSFr who is coming back from 2 ACL surgeries.  Without Golden we would be horrible.  

Watch a few more games before throwing stuff like that out.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

1) Pitt is a good team.

2) This game showed that when we play our best we can compete with the best.  Problem is no team plays it's best for 40 minutes (or vary rarely does).  We are better but not quite there yet.

3) Missing Big Bob Carter really hurts.

4) Marcus G-Hunt needs to be aggressive for 40 minutes, well maybe 35.  At one point in the 1st half it looked like CBG said "either be aggressive and look to score or just sit on the bench".  He was better than the ND game but with BBC out he needs to do more.  We cannot rely on Trae for most of the Offense.

5) Bolden is not back.  After a good game against ND he bounced back to being, I won't say horrible but, not good...especially when we needed him to make a bucket late in the game.

6) The debate is on as to whether Solo Poole ever plays another game.  Migraines?  Really?

7) I'll be there again Saturday cheering loudly.  Miami is beatable but we need a full effort.  Get back to playing solid D and rebounding the ball.

GTBee
GTBee

I saw the AD's comments on football yesterday.  What are his comments on basketball?  I predicted 0-12 in the ACC or possibly 2-10.   I still think 2-10 is very possible.    We are NOT getting better!!!

BearCasey
BearCasey

Pitt is by far the best coached team I've seen GT play.  I'm not into moral victories and the Jackets could have won this particular game on this particular night, but except for rebounding and defenders losing guys on the non-ball side in the first half, this was a good effort.  Golden is not a true point guard but he plays hard and is clutch at the end of the game.  Stacy Poole' best game as a Jacket.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Ken - excellent column.

Pitt is a really good team - the best one that will be in McCamish this year (Cuse is on the road).

Right now it is looking as if neither Duke nor UNC will be in the top 2 in the ACC.  The last time that happened was 95-96.  Interesting season

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

Except for the rebounding, this may have been our best game.  I was very impressed by Pitt defense and rebounding yet we managed to stay in the game.  We really missed Carter.

kvnryn
kvnryn

Golden running the point was difficult to watch. Somewhere between five and ten times, he drove to the basket before, it appeared, he had any resemblance of a plan, just hoping he would get to the basket and either draw contact or find a clear lane. It rarely ended well. That was admittedly the first extended chunk of Tech basketball I have watched, and it sounds like they have some injury issues there, but outside of the rebounding problems, the PG play was noticeably poor.

juvenal
juvenal

CBG is a good coach.........

juvenal
juvenal

with Miller out, that is.....

juvenal
juvenal

only so much Miller can do, have to watch wear & tear, fatigue, & esp. fouls, he's out we are toast now without Carter.......

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@juvenal

They don't have the players to stay up in the top 6 - 7.

Big game at Stamford Bridge this week - I am hoping for a draw but I am sure you want Chelsea to lose.

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

MBob did comment on Bball on video.

We play 18 conference games

We are getting better even with the injuries.

SillyMutts
SillyMutts

Cbg sux in all things basketball. Gt will never have a good team while he is coach. I expect gt will never win more than 6 acc games a year while he is there and most likely 3 or 4 a year. Gt athletics are crap and a burning trash heap

juvenal
juvenal

love for you to pull the upset, Paul........S Ham coach is staying, tho........

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@juvenal

My guys are at WBA on Sunday.  We need a win because I think the 4 teams above us will all win this weekend.