Looking at Georgia Tech’s Tuesday night matchup against N.C. State at McCamish Pavilion. The game begins at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network (Peachtree TV in Atlanta).
A better shooter
Part of guard Tadric Jackson’s 20-point contribution to Georgia Tech’s 71-65 win over Syracuse was a 2-for-4 effort from beyond the 3-point arc. With 6-for-15 shooting in the past four games from 3-point range, Jackson has lifted his 3-point rate to 38.7 percent (29-for-75). One of his makes on Sunday was his buzzer-beater at the end of the first half from well beyond the arc to cut Syracuse’s lead to 32-29.
It’s a considerable improvement on his first two seasons, 27.7 percent as a sophomore and 17.8 percent as a freshman. The latter was historically errant. Among ACC players who had taken at least 50 attempts in a season, Jackson’s 17.8 percent (on 16-for-90 shooting) was the second lowest since the 1992-93 season, according to sports-reference.com.
Jackson’s stroke has always appeared sound, but he had a bad habit of not rising up vertically, instead leaning away from the target. Jackson’s form has improved this season; he usually sets his feet and elevates straight up. Jackson credited post-practice work on footwork.
“You make the shot before you shoot it,” he said. “Get your feet set and get down low and be ready to shoot.”
Jackson’s overall field-goal percentage is 46.9 percent, which is also much improved on his first two seasons (27.4 percent as a freshman, 38.5 percent as a sophomore). Part of the improvement is due to the fact that he’s shooting 3-pointers less frequently. Of his 241 shots, 69 percent are inside the arc. It was 58 percent as a sophomore and 55 percent as a freshman.
“It’s more of this offense,” Jackson said. “Coach (Josh Pastner’s) offense is more trying to get the ball inside than out. That’s the main thing. This offense is cutting, so the more cutting we do, the more scores we get inside.”
ACC coaches heap praise on Georgia Tech, Josh Pastner Mike Krzyzewski: “I think they’re one of the really great stories, not just for the conference, but in college basketball.”
About the screening call
Jackson said he believed he was legitimately fouled on the pivotal illegal-screen call in the final minute of the Syracuse game. The Orange were down 67-65 with the ball when Tyler Roberson was called for setting an illegal screen with 16 seconds left. Losing possession, Syracuse was forced to foul, and guard Josh Heath’s free throws with 15 seconds left put the game on ice.
“It felt like a moving screen, for sure,” Jackson said.
Jackson was trying to defend guard John Gillon on the right wing when Roberson screened for him near the 3-point arc. As Gillon dribbled to his left, Jackson came in with him and got caught up with Roberson.
“I honestly didn’t seen the screen,” Jackson said. “Ben (Lammers) didn’t call out the screen, so I was just really guarding the ball. I wasn’t even expecting the screen to come. Next thing I know, I just got hit. I didn’t know how, but I saw it last minute, I tried to get my leg over and he kind of hit me coming. I fell over a little bit.”
A telling Jackson stat
Jackson is a critical piece of the Jackets’ success but also is someone who is trying to develop game-to-game consistency. When he’s been more active and engaged in the offense, Tech has typically won. This season, the Jackets are 5-0 when he has scored 20 or more points, including the wins over VCU and Notre Dame, two of the least likely wins of the season.
In ACC play, when he has scored in the single digits, Tech is 2-5. The Jackets are 5-2 when he scores 10 or more in ACC competition.
Last Tech-N.C. State meeting
When Tech played N.C. State Jan. 15 in Raleigh, N.C., the Jackets beat the Wolfpack 86-76 with 10-for-16 shooting from 3-point range, including 3-for-3 by guard Josh Okogie, 2-for-2 by guard Josh Heath and 4-for-8 by forward Quinton Stephens. It was not the most stalwart defensive effort by the Wolfpack, a sign of things to come.
The 86-point output remains Tech’s highest against Division I competition this season, and the 62.5 percent rate from 3-point range was just one of two games this season in which the Jackets shot better than 48 percent and was almost 14 percentage points better than their average against ACC opponents.
Smith scored 31 points on 10-for-21 shooting to go with eight rebounds and six assists. Okogie led Tech with 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting.
Jackson on defending N.C. State, led by likely lottery pick point guard Dennis Smith Jr.:
“We’ve got to guard our yard. We’ve got to play team defense. With them, they play a lot of one-on-one, so we’ve just got to guard the ball. That’s mainly what it is.”