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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Florida State

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

It may seem like a modest aspiration, but to Georgia Tech it has been a bewilderingly elusive achievement.

On December 2, the Yellow Jackets knocked off then-No. 7 Duke in their ACC opener at McCamish Pavilion.  A month later, they’ll look to build off that win as conference play resumes against Florida State (6-6, 0-1 ACC) at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee.

In the process, Georgia Tech has a chance to start 2-0 in ACC play for the first time since – are you sitting down? – 2005-06, when the Jackets defeated Virginia in early December followed by a two-point win over ACC newcomer Boston College.

Perhaps you celebrated that 2-0 start by texting your friends on your iPhone.

Just kidding.  The first iPhone didn’t debut until the following summer.

Yes, it’s been that long.  And yes, a conference schedule has plenty of variables that can thwart a fast start.  And Georgia Tech (8-4, 1-0 ACC) would love for the comparisons to 2005-06 to end there:  the Jackets finished that year 4-12 in the ACC.  They’ll also have to conquer an historically prickly place for them to play in the Donald L. Tucker Center, where they’ve dropped five straight by double digits.

Enjoy the top notes from my chart as Tech jumps back into conference play to begin the New Year (7 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

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Naithan George arched his eyebrows when he learned he was only the second Canadian ever to suit up for Georgia Tech, following center Cyril Martynov last year.

George played his final three years of high school ball in Glendale, Ariz., though his family still has strong roots to the Canadian basketball scene.  His uncle, Mike George, is the agent of NBA All-Star (and Kitchener, Ontario native) Jamal Murray, as well as former Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

The freshman will get a stiff test from Florida State, which loves to deny, play up the line, and switch on every ball screen (and go over the top when they do, a rarity among teams that play that way).  That length and pressure have enabled the Seminoles to lead the ACC in steals and rank 25th nationally in steal rate.  Tech has faced one opponent with a higher steal rate this year – UMass, which hassled them into 21 turnovers in Honolulu.

Expect a defense that will scramble, swarm, and cast long shadows in the halfcourt (and will be playing with extra urgency following a home loss to Lipscomb over the weekend).  Can Tech avoid the kind of risky passes in its whip-around, pick-and-roll offense that can lead to deflections and runouts for the Seminoles?

Kyle Sturdivant’s six highest career scoring games have come away from home. (photo by Courtney Metzger)

 

Georgia Tech is 7-0 when it averages better than 1.00 points per possession.

They’re 1-4 when they don’t.

Florida State is allowing 0.99 points per possession.

Damon Stoudamire described Wednesday as a “when-and-when-not to” game – in other words, understanding the right times and situations to attack FSU’s pressure.  Tech will need to play to the second side and work off two feet well. 

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Florida State rates a tick below Georgia Tech in offensive efficiency, though its ball screen offense will challenge the Jackets to defend well in one-on-one situations.  Among the Seminoles’ weapons on offense:

  • 6-foot-7 Jamir Watkins, formerly of VCU, leads the team in scoring (13.2 ppg), rebounding and assists and gives them a downhill, right-handed driver and physical offensive rebounder.
  • Guard Darin Green, Jr. (13.0 ppg) has deep range and is an inveterate hunter of threes in transition.
  • Guard Primo Spears (12.5 ppg), who led Georgetown in scoring a season ago, escaped from the two-time transfer purgatory last month and gives FSU a twitchy breakdown artist and pull-up jump shooter.
  • 6-foot-10 Cam Corhen (9.3 ppg) returned from an injury absence against Lipscomb and posted a double-double against Tech in last year’s ACC Tournament. He’s a rangy pick-and-pop threat who can also slip hard to the rim.

If Georgia Tech needs someone to counteract that, their graybeard point guard could give them a spark.  Kyle Sturdivant’s six highest scoring games of his career have all come away from home:

Kyle Sturdivant – Highest scoring games

  • 21 vs. UMass (Diamond Head Classic)
  • 20 at Syracuse
  • 18 at Notre Dame
  • 17 at Louisville
  • 16 at Pittsburgh
  • 16 vs. Pittsburgh (ACC Tournament)

Baye Ndongo’s 9.1 rebounds per game ranks No. 2 among all freshmen nationally. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

For a fourth time in the last five seasons, Florida State boasts the tallest team in the nation according to KenPom, checking in at an average height of 79.2 inches per player.

But the Seminoles’ height chart has a notable absence.  It was never a matter of if, only how many seven-footers head coach Leonard Hamilton would assemble on his roster each year.  And while he still has a slew of 6-10 and 6-11 players, Hamilton doesn’t have a single seven-footer on his team this year.

The last time that happened?  2006-07, according to Florida State’s sports information office.

Seven-footers or not, Tech will need to be active jousting for 50-50 balls and offensive rebounds.  Baye Ndongo’s 9.1 rebounds per game ranks second among all freshmen nationally.

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“I played against him.  I got some mail from Leonard when he was the head coach at Miami.  Leonard’s been around a long time.”

Damon Stoudamire when asked for his recollection of Leonard Hamilton, FSU’s venerable 22nd-year head coach.  Hamilton was named Miami’s head coach in 1990 and, evidently, postmarked his share of recruiting pitches to a point guard from Portland, Ore.  Stoudamire also went 2-0 against Hamilton during his lone season as head coach of the Washington Wizards.

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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 in Tallahassee.

-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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