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Inside The Chart: ACC Tournament Edition

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

The final horn sounded in Charlottesville Saturday night, simultaneously signaling the end of one season and the beginning of another for Georgia Tech.

A flat finale at Virginia shouldn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to get over.  Nor should it blunt the momentum they’ve built over the last few weeks as they head to Washington, D.C., for the 2024 ACC Tournament.

“We’ve been playing well.  Nothing takes away from that in losing to Virginia.  The message was just bring it in and let’s not worry about this.  We’ll turn the page,” head coach Damon Stoudamire said on his radio show Monday.

The opening round gives Georgia Tech (14-17, 7-13 ACC) a chance to turn the page on a pair of tight losses in the regular season to Notre Dame (12-19, 7-13), who nipped the Yellow Jackets in overtime in Atlanta and by three in South Bend.  The margin of error is always slim when the Jackets and Irish get together; it’ll become even more magnified in the win-or-go-home stakes of a conference tournament.

A seed and a chance. Georgia Tech will look to embrace both as it begins its run through the brackets in D.C.  Enjoy the top notes, quotes and anecdotes from my chart as the Yellow Jackets gear up for their second-ever matchup with the Irish in the ACC Tournament (2 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network):

The last time he was held scoreless, Miles Kelly (13) followed by scoring a career-high 36. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Want another illustration of how topsy-turvy this season has been for Georgia Tech?  The Yellow Jackets’ best field goal percentage and best field goal percentage defense in conference play both came in losses.

CategoryPct.OpponentScore
FG%54.50%at DukeL, 84-79
FG% defense31.80%at Notre DameL, 58-55

*****

Notre Dame survived that frigid shooting night to beat Tech 58-55, which followed a 75-68 overtime defeat of the Jackets at McCamish in January.  The biggest through lines in those games were rebounding and free throw shooting – Tech was outrebounded by a combined -24, and Notre Dame finished with its highest and third-highest offensive rebounding percentages of ACC play.  More offensive rebounds led to more stickbacks, scrambles, and fouls against Tech; not surprisingly, Notre Dame also finished with two of its highest free throw rates (FTA/FGA) of ACC play as well.  For a team that ranked last in the league in offensive efficiency, those free throws were crucial in spackling the holes in Notre Dame’s offense.

Now the good news:  since that night in South Bend, Georgia Tech has outrebounded each of its last six opponents by a combined +71.

Georgia Tech – ACC rebounding margin

  • First 14 games:  -55
  • Last 6 games:  +71

Can that re-dedication to the glass spark a turnaround in D.C.?  Stoudamire also stressed the importance of winning 50-50 balls against the Fighting Irish, who held a clear edge in that category in the regular season meetings.

*****

Miles Kelly has ample reason to believe he can shake off a scoreless night at Virginia.  For starters:

  • The last time he went scoreless, on February 6 against Wake Forest, he lit up Louisville for a career-high 36 points in the next game.
  • Evidently, he loves playing in conference tournaments. In three career ACC Tournament games, Kelly has averaged 7 points on 51-percent field goal shooting and 45-percent three-point shooting (10-of-22).

He’ll once again have to contend with a Notre Dame defense that, in spite of its 7-13 ACC record, ranks 27th nationally in defensive efficiency.  Look for the Irish to pack the paint, invite teams to take jump shots, and as Stoudamire put it, “test your principles on offense.”  The Jackets can’t over-penetrate or hold onto the ball for too long while probing on the perimeter.  With two-point jumpers at a premium, can Kyle Sturdivant rejoin the fray?  Tech’s top bench scorer went scoreless against Notre Dame in the regular season but is averaging 13.1 points in the Yellow Jackets’ ACC wins.

Baye Ndongo is the 15th ACC freshman in the last 20 years to average 12-plus points and 8-plus rebounds. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Damon Stoudamire has an affinity for sub-6-foot point guards – not surprising, considering he was one himself.

But that admiration may turn to angst in the case of Markus Burton, Notre Dame’s 5-11 guard and ACC Rookie of the Year.  The Mishawaka, Ind., native is a quicksilver point guard who constantly swishes and sways on the dribble, looking to put defenders in cat-chasing-laser-pointer levels of skittishness.  Look for him to work primarily off staggers and pindowns, an action Georgia Tech had trouble containing against Virginia on Saturday.

The Irish layer in flares, back screens, and plenty of two-man action in their half-court offense, which also features one of the league’s best young three-point shooters in cerebral freshman Braeden Shrewsberry (41.4-pct. 3pt. ACC).  Burton and Shrewsberry lead Notre Dame in scoring, but part of their success against Tech came from the boost provided by 6-9 Tae Davis, who averaged 13.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in two games against the Yellow Jackets.  Tech will need to keep him off the glass and prevent him from getting downhill with his right hand.

*****

Baye Ndongo became the 15th ACC freshman in the last 20 years to average 12-plus points and 8-plus rebounds per game.

Of those 14 before him, 11 became first-round NBA Draft picks.  Thirteen played in the NBA.  And the only one who hasn’t yet, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, is projected as a first round pick this summer.

*****

Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network.  See you in D.C.

-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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