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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

Throughout the year, Damon Stoudamire has urged his team to run more – after turnovers, after defensive rebounds, anything to press the tempo and put the pressure on a defense.

But for now, Stoudamire’s focus has shifted to stopping runs – like the three runs of 9-0 or more that have sunk promising starts and sent Georgia Tech to a three-game home losing streak.

Mitigate those runs and who knows how those games may have played out?  Who knows what Tech’s conference record might be?  That’s why Stoudamire sounded more buoyant than alarmed as Georgia Tech (9-9, 2-5 ACC) opens another week in the ACC.

“Six out of the seven conference games, we’ve been in,” Stoudamire said on his radio show Monday.

“I feel like we’re right there.  I still believe.”

Run prevention will be key against Pittsburgh (11-7, 2-5 ACC), which comes to McCamish Pavilion with its confidence on the rise following a tough road win on Saturday.  Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Yellow Jackets look to avenge an ACC Tournament loss to the Panthers last season (7 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Kyle Sturdivant has been to the free throw line 26 times in Tech’s nine wins, 11 times in its nine losses. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Pitt had staggered to a 1-5 start in conference play, a stretch that included a 22-point home loss to Duke on Jan. 9.

Then the Panthers went to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday and upset the seventh-ranked Blue Devils 80-76, their first road win over a ranked opponent since 2013.

So what to make of Pitt?  The Panthers had to reload much of their scoring from a 24-win NCAA Tournament team, but they still feature one of the league’s hold-your-breath, heat-check shooters in 6-8 wing Blake Hinson (18.3 ppg).  Hinson had only averaged 24 percent from three-point range in his previous five games, but he tied an ACC record by burying all seven of his threes against the Blue Devils.

Built like a tight end (not hyperbole, by the way – Florida State offered him as a tight end in eighth grade), Hinson gets to his spot physically and has a hair-trigger release.  The Panthers’ four-out offense has also gotten a lift from freshman guard Jaland Lowe (6.8 ppg), a sinewy, tight-handling lefty who earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors on Monday and made several cold-blooded shots against Duke.

The Jackets will need to make physical switches to disrupt Pitt’s rhythm and make multiple-effort plays so they don’t let the Panthers see space (Pitt likes to play off the bounce a lot).  Can they also defensive rebound better?  Pittsburgh leads the ACC in three-point rate, but they also have a fleet of long-armed lob threats like 7-footer Guillermo Diaz Graham and 6-11 Federiko Federiko.  Pay attention to Federiko, who averaged 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 83-percent field goal shooting (10 of 12) in his final two games against Tech last season.

*****

Two of the ACC’s best young point guards will square off Tuesday in Naithan George and Pittsburgh’s 6-5 freshman Carlton “Bub” Carrington III (13.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.5 apg).  Carrington has the second highest assist average among ACC freshmen behind George, while his rebounding average is the second highest among ACC freshmen behind Baye Ndongo.

ACC freshmen – Assists per game

  1. Naithan George – 5.0
  2. Bub Carrington – 4.5

ACC freshmen – Rebounds per game

  1. Baye Ndongo – 8.7
  2. Bub Carrington – 5.1

The Baltimore, Md., native is a stylish operator in the pick-and-roll, with a rangy frame and a great feel for passing and playmaking.  He also turned heads when he recorded a triple-double in his first career game, dropping an 18-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist pièce de résistance against North Carolina A&T.

It was an impressive accomplishment, but not an unprecedented one.  In fact, one other ACC freshman has delivered a triple-double in his first career game: Dennis Scott, who posted 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Georgia Tech’s season opener against Alcorn State in 1987.

Both teams in tonight’s game are led by freshman point guards, Naithan George for Tech, Carlton Carrington for Pitt. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

A sneaky barometer of Georgia Tech’s wins and losses?  Kyle Sturdivant going to the foul line.

In the Yellow Jackets’ nine wins, the senior is 24-of-26 from the free throw line.

In their 9 losses, he’s only 8-of-11.

*****

Damon Stoudamire didn’t completely dismiss his team’s offensive performance against Virginia.

“You could make a highlight tape of our offense from those first, 10, 11 minutes.  But then after that, we were holding the ball too long.  We got back to not trusting, not throwing pocket passes, not taking things that were there,” he said.

The Jackets will need to move the ball assertively against a Panthers team that’s the second tallest in the ACC behind Florida State, according to KenPom.  Not unlike Virginia, Pitt likes to smother teams with hard hedges, and they have several back line gargoyles who have helped the Panthers lead the ACC in blocks.

If Tech can play out of those hedges, though, they could have opportunities to fire away:  in its last four games, Pittsburgh has allowed opponents to shoot 46 percent from three. 

*****

Georgia Tech players – and the Georgia Tech scorer’s table – will see something it hasn’t witnessed in six decades Tuesday.

Back in June, the NCAA amended its uniform rules to once again allow basketball players to wear the digits 6, 7, 8 and 9.  It took more than half the season, but Tech will finally face a player who wears one of those previously forbidden digits.  Bub Carrington wears #7 for Pittsburgh, while reserve Michael Hueitt, Jr., will suit up in #8.

Alas, no Tech player took the NCAA up on its relaxed number rule this offseason.  The last Yellow Jacket to wear a 6, 7, 8 or 9 is John Mansfield, a backup center who wore #7 during the 1956-57 season.

*****

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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