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Georgia Tech Basketball: 2021 ACC Champions

March 10-13 • Greensboro, N.C.

  • Georgia Tech 70, Miami 66
  • Georgia Tech vs. Virginia (cancelled)
  • Georgia Tech 80, Florida State 75

For the first time in 28 years and the fourth time overall, Georgia Tech won the ACC Championship by putting together a late-season eight-game winning streak that carried through the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

In year 5 under head coach Josh Pastner, the Yellow Jackets hit upon a formula built around two members of his first recruiting class, an under-sized but ultra-competitive point guard from New York, Jose Alvarado, and an under-the-radar forward from North Carolina, Moses Wright, who rose to earn top honors in the ACC, and a silky-smooth and talented left-handed shooter from Florida, Michael Devoe.

Added to the mix was another competitive and energetic do-everything forward from the Atlanta area who transferred from USC, Jordan Usher, and a third-year multi-dimensional forward from New York, Khalid Moore.

In a season interrupted at many points by the COVID-19 pandemic, wining an ACC Championship season seemed impossible when the season began with home-court losses to a pair of in-state teams in Georgia State and Mercer.

But given 10 days before its next game, a tall task against top-25 Kentucky, Tech restructured its lineup by moving Wright to the center position and inserting Moore into the starting five. Immediately, things began to click with a 16-point victory over the Wildcats at State Farm Arena.

After opening ACC play with a December road loss at Florida State, Tech rebounded to knock off North Carolina and Wake Forest at home when the calendar turned to 2021, but the pandemic struck again to force a long break before the Jackets could take the court again. When they did, Tech upset 16th-ranked Clemson at home, then rebounded from a pair of road losses to avenge its December loss to FSU with an 11-point win at home.

Tech muddled through the next two weeks, losing three of four with the only win coming at home against Notre Dame, a game in which the Jackets came back from an early 17-point deficit.

Two close losses to Virginia and Clemson followed to set up the Jackets’ closing run, a six-game winning streak that started with a 27-point win at Miami and a 16-point win against a top-25 Virginia Tech team. The Jackets then knocked off Syracuse and Duke at home and finished the regular season with a 12-point win at Wake Forest.

Wright was named the ACC’s Player of the Year, the first Jacket since Dennis Scott in 1990 to be so honored, and Alvarado was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Devoe, who earned only honorable mention in the all-conference voting, used that as motivation as the Yellow Jackets rolled into the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Tech reached the championship game after downing Miami, 70-66, in the quarterfinals, and then advanced to the finals after its semifinal matchup with Virginia was cancelled due to COVID-19. Tech’s triumph over Miami did not come easy, as the Yellow Jackets had to rally from a 33-29 halftime deficit, and hold off the Hurricanes’ late charge after building an eight-point second-half lead.

Alvarado perhaps the game’s biggest play in the waning moments. With Georgia Tech clinging to a 68-66 lead, an inbounds pass by Jordan Usher appeared to be on its way out of bounds, which would give possession back to the Hurricanes. However, Alvarado chased down the loose ball, collected it just before it went out of bounds, then fired a pass ahead to a wide open Usher, who slammed it home to seal the victory.

Devoe led fourth-seeded Tech to a 80-75 victory over No. 2-seeded and No. 13-ranked Florida State in the championship game, earning the Yellow Jackets their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2010.

Despite four scorers in double-figures – Devoe (20), Usher (15), ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright (15) and Alvarado (13) – it was Tech’s defense that was the key to its fifth win of the season over a nationally ranked team. Tech forced Florida State into a season-high 25 turnovers, triggered by an ACC Tournament championship game record 15 steals, and scored a whopping 31 points off the Seminoles’ miscues. Alvarado, true to form, led all players with five steals.

Devoe became the fourth Tech player to win the Everett Case Award as tournament MVP, joining Mark Price (1985), Brian Oliver (1990) and James Forrest (1993).

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