Recapping Georgia Tech’s 66-52 loss to Clemson Saturday afternoon in Greenville, S.C. (Five observations here)
1. Adam Smith’s shooting eye betrayed him for the second game in a row. Smith was 3-for-11 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point range, which ended his streak of 26 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer. In the past two games, Smith is 4-for-19 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
He still managed to score 12 points by making all six of his free throws.
Off nights are bound to happen. I suspect he’ll bounce back.
2. Whether it was focus, effort or some other slightly nebulous quality, Tech didn’t have something going for it. The number of 50-50 balls that Tech lost, particularly on the Clemson side of the court, spoke to it quite clearly. It seemed like the Tigers were quicker to most, if not all, loose balls or rebounds that hit the floor. It’s how Clemson claimed 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 21 second-chance points, which is a remarkable total and more importantly was a significant factor in the game.
“They got the 50-50 balls, and when you get little plays like that, the team that gets most of those more than likely ends up successful,” Marcus Georges-Hunt said.
3. A highly productive game by forward Charles Mitchell went to waste. Mitchell took down 19 rebounds along with 11 points. In fact, the 19 boards were the most ever by a Tech player in an ACC game. Further, they were nearly half of all the rebounds (39) that Tech had in the game.
He has now had back-to-back double-doubles after having one in the previous eight. With 25 points and 34 rebounds in two games, he’s a candidate for ACC player of the week, though I suspect he doesn’t have much of a chance given that one of the games was a loss and the other was a win over Wake Forest.
Mitchell’s total was either a reflection on his particular knack Saturday for gathering the ball, his teammates’ inability to do so or perhaps both. Tech’s three other bigs, James White, Nick Jacobs and Ben Lammers, had a total of two rebounds in a combined 35 minutes of play.
“That’s due to physicality,” coach Brian Gregory said. “You’ve got to hit people. It’s not illegal to actually hit somebody. You’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Even as well as Mitchell played – he only had one turnover, as well, but shot 5-for-13, I think because he probably forced a couple shots as he tried to get something going – Gregory still noted a missed block-out on a Clemson free throw that led to an easy tip-in for Tigers center Landry Nnoko late in the game.
Gregory said that with Mitchell and Georges-Hunt, “they almost have to be mistake-free, and that’s hard to ask of those guys.”
Stat to note
Clemson’s 21 second-chance points tied for the most that Tech has given up in a game going back to the 2012-13 season, Gregory’s second. The other was against Pittsburgh in the 2013-14 season.
At the game
The crew at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena did a pretty remarkable job turning the arena over, as Saturday afternoon’s basketball game was followed by a Greenville Swamprabbits hockey game. Employees were taking down the basketball set-up almost as soon as the game ended around 4 p.m. to get the arena ready for a hockey game at 8 p.m.
A swamp rabbit is a type of rabbit found in the swamps and lowlands of the southern U.S. Readers of a certain age may remember President Jimmy Carter being “attacked” by a swamp rabbit in 1979.
Final seconds of basketball game at 3:57 p.m.
Cleaning up the ice at 7:18 p.m.
“It was just the discipline that we had. We had too many lapses that you can’t have on the road. Just giving up easy layups on breakouts, us not running back on defense and giving up putbacks. Big plays like that and then just silly turnovers. That stuff just adds up.” – forward Quinton Stephens
“I’m calm for right now. Just have to find ways, I have to find something, somehow, to get my teammates fired up, just more grit. We all have to play with more grit. I just have to find a way.” – Georges-Hunt on leading the team
“It’s tough – somehow, someway, you’ve got to get some of those.” Gregory on two calls – a charge against Georges-Hunt that could have been a potential 3-point play for the Jackets and an over-the-back foul on White that wiped out a putback and instead put Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame on the line for a one-and-one, both of which he made.
A look at four critical statistical categories – effective field goal percentage, offensive rebounding percentage, turnover percentage and free-throw rate.
From a shooting standpoint, Tech played one of its best defensive games of the ACC season in limiting Clemson’s effective field-goal percentage to 41.7. Where the Jackets lapsed was in giving the Tigers so many chances – their offensive rebounding percentage was among the highest against Tech – and also in not taking care of the ball. At their best, the Jackets’ turnover percentage is around 12 percent or lower. With 13 turnovers to Clemson’s six, the Jackets gave the Tigers seven more chances to score than they allowed themselves. It proved decisive. Clemson had 17 points off turnovers while Tech had six.