Georgia Tech’s 57-28 loss to No. 2 Virginia Thursday night was, among other things, something of a perfect storm. Virginia, one of the best defensive teams in the country, was at its best, or close to it. Tech, a poor shooting team that has had a world of trouble trying to solve Virginia in the past four years, was at its worst, or close to it. All of the Jackets’ flaws were magnified, and their strengths nullified.
“I think in stretches, we played really good defense and for a majority of the second half, we had guys locked in,” Virginia forward Justin Anderson said.
The end result: The lowest point total in an ACC regular-season game in conference history, which is saying something.
1. Tech had actually been shooting better since the Syracuse debacle, although hardly wearing out the nets. Tech was the worst 3-point shooting team in the country (by percentage) prior to the Wake Forest game two weeks ago, but had shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range in the past three games.
While Virginia challenged some of Tech’s 3-point tries Thursday, the Jackets got off its share of decent looks. For the night, Tech was 0-for-12. I’m not sure the last time Tech played a game without a 3-pointer, but it was at least prior to the 2010-11 season. The Jackets’ 24.5 percent shooting from the field was the lowest in coach Brian Gregory’s tenure.
“With the shots that we got, I didn’t think we’d shoot as poorly as we did,” Gregory said.
Said forward Marcus Georges-Hunt, “It was just a lot in and outs.”
2. Players had difficulty creating and making shots for themselves, another problem area. What happened often was that Virginia prevented the Jackets from getting the ball into the post, or force the ball back out with little gain, and the shot clock wound down under 10 seconds. A perimeter player like Georges-Hunt or guard Travis Jorgenson had to create something on his own, and usually came up short.
“You’ve got to be willing to take shots in the last 10 seconds on the shot clock,” Gregory said. “Teams with guys that can make some plays one-on-one and have the guts to put the ball in the basket in those situations are the teams that will be able to play with them for 40 minutes.”
3. Tech is No. 12 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (38.2 percent) and has compensated for its offensive shortcomings by piling up second-chance opportunities. Forward Charles Mitchell is among the top 10 in the country in offensive rebounds per game.
However, Virginia big men Mike Tobey and Darion Atkins kept Mitchell and Demarco Cox off the glass. Tech had eight offensive rebounds on 37 opportunities (21.6 percent). Further, the Jackets scored just four second-chance points, a demonstration of the defense Tobey and Atkins were playing at the basket and also the trouble that the Jackets have had finishing.
“I think we knew how important it was to limit Georgia Tech to one chance,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “I think holding them at bay with those second-chance points was significant.”
4. And Virginia played a high level of defense. The Cavaliers forced Tech into 10 turnovers in 55 possessions. The first six possessions might have been all you needed to see.
– Shot clock violation.
– Georges-Hunt scores off a pump fake in the lane.
– Cox misses in close after a drive-and-dish by Jorgenson.
– Anderson steals the ball from Cox.
– Cox travels in the post.
– Robert Sampson misses a 3-point attempt.
“Their defense keeps you out of the lane,” guard Josh Heath said. “They all move as one. It’s just good defense.”
– That said, Tech is not the first team that Virginia has shredded like this. The Cavaliers held Rutgers to 26 points and Harvard to 27. They limited Clemson to 23.1 percent shooting.
“We got beat by a lot better team,” Gregory said.
It’s remarkable to think where this team was three weeks ago. The Jackets had 9-2 record, a top-35 RPI and the ACC schedule offered plenty of opportunity.
The Jackets have burned through a third of the ACC schedule without a win. The RPI is up to 80, according to warrennolan.com. And Tech is coming off one of the worst offensive games in ACC history.
What hope is there for the final 12 games? The schedule gets easier. The combined ACC record of the final 12 opponents is 30-38, while the record for Tech’s first seven opponents is 15-10 (it’s 22-10 including the wins over the Jackets).
But to improve on last year’s ACC record, the Jackets would have to go 7-5 to finish at 7-11 for an overall record of 16-14 going into the ACC tournament. That sounds like a tall order.
– A tough night for forward Robert Sampson. With his legendary father Ralph Sampson in attendance, and excited to face his father’s alma mater, Sampson scored two points on 1-for-6 shooting with a team-high seven rebounds. Sampson was looking for his shot, and had looks, but couldn’t put them down. He also had two turnovers and three fouls.
– Tech will play Boston College Sunday at McCamish Pavilion. The Eagles are 0-5 in the ACC. Not a ratings blockbuster.