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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. NC State

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

Tyzhaun Claude admits he had flexible allegiances growing up.

Most of his family in Goldsboro, N.C., identified as North Carolina fans, so some years Tyzhaun rooted for the Tar Heels.  Other years, he gravitated toward Duke.  And when North Carolina State featured Dennis Smith, Jr., an electric future lottery pick from nearby Fayetteville, he found himself pulling for the Wolfpack.

It begs the question:  Did that make Claude an ACC agnostic – or worse yet, a bandwagon jumper?

Walking off the Zelnak Center practice floor Friday, the grad transfer shrugged and smiled.

“I just didn’t want to be lonely and not have a team,” he explained.

Based on his play of late, it only feels like Claude has nursed a grudge against some of those Triangle schools.  On December 2 he pulled in a team-high eight rebounds in Georgia Tech’s upset of Duke at McCamish Pavilion.  On Tuesday, with Baye Ndongo sidelined for most of the game, he used his rugged, no-frills style to score nine points, grab eight rebounds, and block a season-high three shots in the Yellow Jackets’ 74-73 win over No. 3 North Carolina.

And now, playing an hour outside his hometown, Claude can help Georgia Tech (10-11, 3-7 ACC) complete a rare Triangle trifecta:  The Yellow Jackets haven’t beaten Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State in the same regular season since 2009-10.

He’ll have that chance Saturday when Tech clashes with NC State (14-7, 6-4 ACC) at PNC Arena, where Claude expects around 15 family members to pack the seats in Raleigh.

Their allegiances, we presume, will be firmly White & Gold.

Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Jackets look to start the second half of ACC play with a win streak (5:30 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Tyzhaun Claude has 15 points and 21 rebounds in three games vs. ACC teams from his home state of North Carolina this season. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Cue the Spider-Man pointing meme

On Tuesday, Georgia Tech scored 74 points and held North Carolina to a season-low field goal percentage in a home win.

Two hours later, NC State scored 74 points and held Miami to a season-low field goal percentage in a home win.

The Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack both held their opponent to the exact same shooting percentage… down to the repeating decimal (36.3636363%).

*****

The win over Miami snapped a three-game losing streak for the Wolfpack, which had blunted some of the momentum from their best ACC start since 1988-89.

The Wolfpack run an offense that’s heavy on ball screens and physical, downhill drives, with their guards given plenty of freedom to probe and create.  Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner may be gone, but transfer guard D.J. Horne (15.2 ppg) is a classic “get a bucket” guy who plays with simmering aggression on the dribble.  Senior Casey Morsell (12.1 ppg), who awakened for 17 points against Miami, gives the Wolfpack a jack-of-all-trades at shooting guard.

NC State also likes to isolate 6-9, 275-pound D.J. Burns (11.6 ppg) in the long post and have him sledgehammer his way into the paint for crowd-pleasing, left-handed finishes.  Tech had success sending double teams on North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, but Burns’ nifty passing from the high post and short corners could make that difficult.  Could Ebenezer Dowuona, Burns’ former sparring partner in Raleigh last year, be an effective presence against him?

Even at 6-4, the Wolfpack have the lowest effective field goal percentage in conference games (46.3 pct.).  Among the keys for Tech Saturday: limit transition, make NC State “see bodies” on penetration, and defend the Wolfpack’s midrange game without fouling.

*****

Kyle Sturdivant thought he had his defender underneath him.  Stop quickly and elevate, he thought in the moment, and he may be able to draw a foul.

The whistle never came, which forced the senior into some midair improvisation.  But at a critical moment in the second half, Sturdivant banked in a wing three-pointer to give Tech a 72-68 lead with 3:27 to go.  Sturdivant fell short of Tony Akins’ school record, but in the process he became the first Yellow Jacket to go 4 for 4 from three-point range in a game since Tadric Jackson in December of 2016.

Kyle Sturdivant – 3pt.%

  • This year:  40.0% (leads team)
  • Previous 2 years:  32.6%

He and the rest of the Tech backcourt will need to brace themselves for an NC State defense that can irritate in any number of ways.  The Wolfpack trap, swipe at ballhandlers, cheat off ball-side corners, and play with frantic hands, a style that’s enabled them to lead the ACC in fast break points per game.  Morsell and 6-4 guard Jayden Taylor are especially pesky on-ball defenders.  Can Tech keep its composure and dictate the pace when it’s on offense?

Kyle Sturdivant (1) went 4-for-4 from three-point range against North Carolina and has hit 40 percent in ACC games. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Two-thirds of the way into the season, certain trend lines start to reveal themselves.

Case in point:  Georgia Tech was 7-1 this year when holding opponents below 30 percent from three-point range.  That included both of their ranked wins over Mississippi State and Duke.

The Jackets held North Carolina to 28.6 percent on Tuesday (8-of-28).

Beware of Horne, who’s made three or more three-pointers in four consecutive games.  Morsell has weathered some bouts of inconsistency but went 3-of-4 from deep against Miami.

*****

North Carolina had outscored opponents by an average of 10.5 points in the second half of its ACC games.

Since conference play resumed in January, Georgia Tech had been allowing 54 percent field goal shooting to opponents in the second half.

The Yellow Jackets held the Tar Heels to 33-percent field goal shooting to cap off a come-from-behind, court-storming victory.

*****

Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 5 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you in Raleigh.

-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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