Dec. 8, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Daniel Miller doesn’t claim to be able to forecast the future.
After last night’s 68-56 victory over rival Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum, he’s going to have a hard time living that idea down.
Miller didn’t predict the score of Tech’s first victory in 14 tries in Athens and the first since Nov. 26, 1976, he did see last night coming as far back as Jan. 5, 2010.
“When we red-shirted our freshman year and we came [to Athens], we were on the sideline,” recalled Kammeon Holsey. “He told me, ‘Kam, when we come here in two years we’ve got to win. I promise you we’re going to win.'”
Miller went a long way delivering on that promise, scoring 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting, pulling down a game-high nine rebounds and blocking four shots — one more than the entire Georgia team. He and Holsey, who was one of three Yellow Jackets with 12 (on 6-for-9 shooting), scored eight of Tech’s first 10 points in the first six minutes of the second half and were so unstoppable for the Georgia’s young front court of sophomores Marcus Thornton, Donté Williams and freshman Nemanja Djurisic, that they forced the Bulldogs to switch their defensive scheme from man-to-man to zone. That opened up avenues and created open looks for Jason Morris, who finished with a team-high 15 (all in the second half), and Brandon Reed, who had 10 of his 12 in the final 20 minutes.
“Those guys kept us in the game in the first half,” said head coach Brian Gregory, who team trailed by 29-25 at intermission. “They may not get the credit at the end but they won the game for us in the first half, probably.”
“They were tremendous, and I think that’s the biggest reason [Georgia] had to go zone,” said Morris, who led Tech in scoring for the third straight game. “When they went zone and the ball went inside they collapsed and that left myself, Brandon and Glen [Rice] wide open to knock down the kick-out three.”
Miller is excited about the win, even though he admitted that his family of UGA rooters doesn’t completely share his level of joy — he said they’re probably happy for him personally — and really likes the chemistry he is developing inside with Holsey.
“I’m playing really well with Kam right now,” he said. “I’m always trying to get him the ball, and he’s always going up strong and it always ends up going in for him.”
It went in enough Wednesday night to create a best-case scenario offensively for Tech in a place that has been anything but in the past.
“We got it in a couple of times, we made a few baskets they’re going to double-team, leaving one guy open,” Miller said. “A couple of swings in there and get that wing wide open.”
“[We were] getting the ball inside, knowing that they couldn’t guard us one-on-one,” said Holsey. “[In the first half] Basically the offense revolved around the ball going to us on the inside then, taking our time and making quick moves and decisive moves.
“They couldn’t play us man so they went to zone [in the second half],” he added. “Jason missed the first shot and he was kind of mad, but he knocked down the last two. So knowing that they’re in the zone if he’s shooting well, they can’t go back to man. Either way they couldn’t stop us.”
Wednesday night was one of those nights for the Yellow Jackets and one Miller knew was coming. While he plans on having more like them — at least one more in two years — he prefers not to draw a parallel to Joe Namath as far as guaranteeing future victories.
“I wouldn’t say that,” he said, with a laugh. “But I definitely want to be a big part of the team, and I think I have been so far.”