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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

Damon Stoudamire proudly points out that in his 13-year NBA career, he played with the two most accurate three-point shooters in NBA history.

The league’s all-time leader in three-point percentage, Steve Kerr, teamed with Stoudamire for one year in Portland.

The man who ranks second on that list will coach against him on Tuesday.

“I enjoyed our time around each other,” Stoudamire said of his season playing with former North Carolina guard Hubert Davis, in 1996-97 with the Toronto Raptors.

“Hubert was, again, really quiet.  But when he said something it always resonated with you.  I appreciated being around him for that year,” he recalled.

Davis, on the other hand, may have slightly less nostalgia for that season.  Though he finished as a 44-percent lifetime three-point shooter in the NBA, he labored through a career-worst 22.9 percent that year with the Raptors.

He and Stoudamire will reconnect as adversaries Tuesday as Georgia Tech (9-11, 2-7 ACC) reaches the midway mark of ACC play with its toughest test yet.  After struggling to contain Virginia Tech’s precision offense in Blacksburg, the Yellow Jackets will now try to tame No. 3 North Carolina (17-3, 9-0 ACC), which is looking to extend its best conference start since 2001.

Enjoy the top notes from my chart as Tech seeks a third home win over a ranked opponent – and in front of a sold-out crowd at McCamish Pavilion (7: p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Baye Ndongo could be the first freshman to lead Tech in rebounding since Chris Bosh in 2004. (photo by Courtney Metzger)

 

Stoudamire said he caught up with Davis this summer when they crisscrossed the AAU circuit recruiting for their respective schools.

“I had seen Hubert in the summer and talked to him, and he told me he loved his team.  And I see why,” Stoudamire recalled.

His words proved prophetic.  After becoming the first preseason No. 1-ranked team to miss the NCAA Tournament since the field expanded in 1985, which led to pointed questions about the program’s future under Davis, North Carolina comes to McCamish riding a 10-game win streak.

The turnaround begins on defense, where the Tar Heels rank fourth nationally with a blistering 0.92 defensive efficiency rating.  North Carolina doesn’t rate highly in turnovers or steals, but they stay home and force opponents into a low assist rate.

North Carolina – ACC ranks (Conference only)

  • FG% defense – 1st
  • 3pt.% defense – 1st
  • Blocks – T-1st
  • Steals – 11th
  • Turnovers/game – 12th

Look for the Tar Heels to ice ball screens while playing drop coverage and forcing point guards to use their left hand.  They’re physical at the point of attack, have bigs who cover space well in drop coverage, and excel at making teams take contested twos.

Stoudamire has implored his team to move the ball better to create driving lanes and kickout angles.  After shooting below 40 percent in back-to-back games, can Tech pass with pace and avoid the long, out-of-rhythm shots that North Carolina uses to trigger fast breaks?

*****

Saturday’s game saw the return of guard Carter Murphy, who missed the previous 12 games with an ankle injury.  The grad transfer from Air Force didn’t waste any time: on his first touch, he caught a skip pass, jabbed his defender to free up space, and dropped in a corner three-pointer.  After scoring six points all season, the Phoenix native pitched in six points (2-3 3pt.) in 11 bench minutes against the Hokies.

Aside from his shooting acumen, Murphy brought some impressive academic credentials to The Flats.  A data science major at Air Force, he became the first men’s basketball player to win the academy’s Scholar-Athlete Award since 1976.

That was so long ago, the Falcons employed a young assistant coach named Gregg Popovich.

*****

In a 15-year span from 1990-2004, Georgia Tech had three freshmen who led the team in rebound average in a season.

The Yellow Jackets haven’t had a freshman lead them in that category since 2004 – though Baye Ndongo seems poised to break that two-decade drought.

Freshman who have Led Tech in Rebounding (since 1990)
PlayerYearAverage
Malcolm Mackey1989-907.5
Ed Nelson2001-026.9
Chris Bosh2003-049
Baye Ndongo2023-248.6

Carter Murphy made his first appearance after a 12-game injury absence, hitting a pair of threes at Virginia Tech. (photo by Keith Lucas)

 

Team rebounding will be key against North Carolina, which accentuates that stingy defense by leading the ACC in rebounding margin.  Six-foot-11 Armando Bacot (10.0 rpg) is the ACC’s overall rebounding leader, while 6-7 Harrison Ingram leads the ACC in rebounds in conference play (11.3).  If Tech can grab defensive rebounds, can they find opportunities to run?  North Carolina has allowed only eight fast break points in its last four games, but transition opportunities could help spark the Jackets.

Offensively, North Carolina is led by 6-0 senior R.J. Davis (21.2 ppg, 42 pct. 3pt.), the ACC’s leading scorer and a top candidate for ACC Player of the Year.  Davis is a savvy, three-level shot-maker, a walking bucket and “wiggler” according to Stoudamire who has also had a sneaky history of terrorizing Georgia Tech:

Davis – Last 3 games vs. Georgia Tech

  • PPG:  22.0
  • FG%:  68.5%  (24 of 35)
  • 3pt.%:  64.3%  (9 of 14)

Bacot (13.6 ppg) remains a bulldozer and duck-in specialist who could be looking to ignite his offense after scoring just five points in back-to-back games.  The Tar Heels have also gotten a lift from freshman point guard Elliot Cadeau, who scored 16 points against Florida State and plays burst.  Tech will also spot a familiar face in Notre Dame guard Cormac Ryan (11.0 ppg), a perimeter prowler who could be the only player in NCAA history to sign with a school against whom he received a Flagrant 2 ejection the year before.

*****

Ingram (12.5 ppg), a transfer from Stanford, has given the Tar Heels a versatile, multi-tasking wing who can back down defenders from the perimeter to the post.  His career high in scoring came last year, when he poured in 22 points against Ole Miss.

Ingram, though, was outshone that night by Georgia Tech’s Amaree Abram, who pumped in a career-high 26.

Incidentally, Ingram may also be the only McDonald’s All-American whose parents actually operate McDonald’s franchises.

*****

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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