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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech’s frustration turned into its salvation Saturday.

After shoddy rebounding cost them a potential road win at Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets used that same relentlessness on the glass to earn a hard-fought win over Syracuse at McCamish Pavilion.  Never mind that the Orange ranked last in the ACC in rebounding margin.  Tech pounded the boards.  They attacked loose balls with multiple efforts.  Miles Kelly and Baye Ndongo became the first players to record double-doubles in the same ACC game since Josh Okogie and Ben Lammers did it against Florida State in 2017 (and Tafara Gapare came within a rebound of joining them).

Georgia Tech (11-15, 4-11 ACC) rebounded by rebounding.  And they’ll need another concerted effort on the glass if they want to validate that win with a win streak on Wednesday.

Clemson (17-8, 7-7 ACC) battered Tech on the boards when they met at Littlejohn Coliseum last month.  But all those stick-backs and extra possessions couldn’t hold off a clutch comeback by the Jackets, who erased a nine-point deficit with 1:43 remaining in regulation to stun the Tigers 93-90 in double overtime.

What else to make of that first matchup?  And how can Georgia Tech earn a sweep over a Clemson team that has a NET ranking of 27 and comes to Atlanta with NCAA Tournament aspirations?  Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Jackets get ready for another midweek clash at McCamish (7 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Kyle Sturdivant dropped 18 points in Tech’s first meeting with Clemson, 17 Saturday vs. Syracuse. (photo by Eldon Lindsay)

 

The first game at Littlejohn Coliseum may have been the apotheosis of Damon Stoudamire’s “threes beat you, twos don’t” philosophy.

Yes, Georgia Tech gave up 22 offensive rebounds, 29 made free throws, and 50 points in the paint.  But they also connected on a season-high 15 three-pointers and held Clemson to 3-of- 21 from three-point range, which helped them stay within range all night.

The Yellow Jackets’ 56-percent three-point rate – i.e., the percentage of a team’s field goal attempts that come from beyond the arc – was their third highest in the last 25 years.

Highest 3pt.A% – Last 25 years
DateOpponent3pt.A%
12/18/1999Morehead State60.70%
2/28/2023Syracuse59.70%

Part of that had to do with playing into Clemson’s defensive structure – the Tigers like the pack the paint and collapse from the ball-side corners.  Will Tech aim for a similar ratio on Wednesday?  The Yellow Jackets did improve in beating Clemson’s defenders off the dribble in the second half and overtime in that game.  More important may be the Yellow Jackets’ three-point defense – Tech did a good job staying in gaps and denying clean catches from the Tigers.  They’ve quietly allowed just 23-percent three-point shooting over their last six games.

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Guard Joe Girard III (15.6 ppg) signed with Clemson last spring following four years as an uninhibited, free-range shooter at Syracuse.  That extra year enabled him to pass Dennis Scott this month for third in ACC history in career three-pointers.

Career 3-pointers
Player3pt. FGMGames played
Joseph Girard III369149
Dennis Scott35199

Damon Stoudamire knows a thing or two about that.  Back in 1996, Stoudamire set the NBA rookie record (since broken) for three-pointers made in a season.  Stoudamire knew he held the record, but as he confessed on his radio show Monday, he didn’t know whose record he broke.

It turns out it was… Dennis Scott.  And Stoudamire surpassed him in an upset over Michael Jordan and the eventual 72-win Chicago Bulls.

Speaking of milestones, Miles Kelly enters Wednesday’s game needing eight points to reach 1,000 for his career.  He only finished 1-of-6 from three-point range at Littlejohn, but Stoudamire lauded his work staying tethered to Girard and chasing him off the arc.  Girard comes in averaging 51 percent from three-point range (20 of 39) over his last five games.

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Three-pointers made the difference last month, but Stoudamire knows his team can’t afford another stereo offensive performance from P.J. Hall and Ian Schieffelin, who became the first Division 1 teammates to post 20-point, 15-rebound stat lines in the same game since 2009.  Both of their point totals were career highs.

The 6-10 Hall (31 points, 17 rebounds) has risen into the high second round of several NBA mock drafts and will make a strong case for ACC Player of the Year.  He’s both a technician in the high post and a sledgehammer on duck-ins, with an ability to also step out and stroke threes.  The 6-8 Schieffelin (20 points, 15 rebounds) has more bull-in-a-china-shop sensibilities and is a punishing offensive rebounder as Georgia Tech learned last month.  The Tigers have also gotten a boost by moving 6-10 Jack Clark into the starting lineup; the NC State transfer played modest minutes in the first matchup after missing the previous 10 games with a groin injury, but he gives Clemson yet another rangy rebounder.

Tech has improved lately in avoiding early foul trouble.  With Ebenezer Dowuona still out with injury, they’ll need to play soundly, jam up the Tigers’ high-low action, and not get overheated against Hall and Schieffelin’s physicality.  Can the Jackets also bring that same rugged mindset to the defensive boards that they showed against Syracuse?  Worth remembering:  Tyzhaun Claude logged a career-high 38:18 against Clemson at Littlejohn and grabbed some tough rebounds in overtime.

Tech’s 15 three-point field goals helped Tech overcome a significant rebound deficit at Clemson. (photo by Jaylynn Nash)

 

Evidently the color orange stirs something visceral in senior Kyle Sturdivant.

Last month the Norcross, Ga., native dropped in 18 points against Clemson.  Saturday at McCamish, Sturdivant poured in 17 against Syracuse, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 4:52 left.  In his last two games against SU, Sturdivant has scored a combined 37 points and connected on 6-of-11 three-pointers.

That may sound like the numbers of a player who holds a deep-seated grudge against the Orange, but in fact it’s quite the opposite.  Sturdivant said afterwards he enjoyed watching Syracuse’s guards growing up, citing early-2010’s stars like Tyler Ennis and Dion Waiters.

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Until last month, extra overtimes had created extra anguish for Georgia Tech.  Did you know:  The Yellow Jackets’ victory over Clemson marked their first multi-overtime win since February 11, 1999 when they outlasted Florida State 111-108 in double overtime.  Tech had lost four straight multi-overtime games since.

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Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you at McCamish.

-AD-

 


Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of the development of Yellow Jackets that thrive academically at the Institute and compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Damon Stoudamire. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.

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