Open mobile menu

Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Syracuse

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

As a senior at Syracuse in 1994, Adrian Autry poured in 31 points after halftime in an NCAA Sweet Sixteen matchup with Missouri at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  His Herculean effort went for naught, though, with the Orange falling to the top-seeded Tigers 98-88 in overtime.  It turned out to be the final game of Autry’s career.

Had the Orange won, Autry would have squared off in the Elite Eight with another heady, high-scoring point guard two days later.

His name:  Damon Stoudamire of Arizona.

Thirty years later they’ll finally get their showdown, albeit as first-year head coaches in the ACC.  Last March marked a changing of the (point) guard in college basketball, with Autry succeeding Jim Boeheim after 47 years at the helm of the Orange.  Coming off a signature win over No. 7 North Carolina, Autry and Syracuse (16-9, 7-7 ACC) will look to continue a late push into NCAA Tournament consideration.   Stoudamire and Georgia Tech (10-15, 3-8), no strangers to wins over the Tar Heels themselves, will look to counteract that with another inspired effort at McCamish Pavilion.

(And yes, Stoudamire remembers Autry’s 1994 Sweet Sixteen performance well.  He said he still recalls Autry scoring a basket from his knees.)

Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Yellow Jackets and Orange link up in Atlanta (5:30 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

 

Baye Ndongo (11) has averaged 16.8 points and shot 62 percent in ACC games at home. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Georgia Tech unwittingly ushered in a glimpse of the future when it beat Syracuse at the JMA Wireless Dome last February.

As the Yellow Jackets were en route to a school-record 18 made three-pointers in a 96-76 rout of the Orange, Tech did the unthinkable:  force Jim Boeheim to scrap his fabled 2-3 zone and play man-to-man for part of the second half.  The switch drew an audible gasp from the home fans.

According to Synergy, Syracuse played 209 man-to-man possessions during the 2022-23 season; 27 of them came against Georgia Tech.

*****

Pun intended, the Jackets won’t be caught off guard on Saturday.  The Orange still sprinkle in some 2-3 zone – in fact, they played it for the majority of their win over North Carolina – but they’ve primarily turned into a man-to-man outfit under Autry:

Syracuse % of defensive possessions (per Synergy)

  • Man-to-man:  81%
  • Zone:  19%

That freshened-up identity has allowed Syracuse to jump to 59th nationally in defensive efficiency after finishing 185th a year ago.  The Orange, however, have sprung some leaks lately, allowing 57-percent field goal shooting and 48.6-percent three-point shooting over their last four games.

Syracuse – ACC ranks (conference only)
FG% defense48.60%Last
3pt.% defense39.20%Last
Steals/game9.4First

The Orange’s frontcourt has been whittled by injury, but they can still short-circuit offenses by forcing the most steals in the ACC.  Long-armed wings like Quadir Copeland and Maliq Brown can make mirages of passing lanes, while guard Judah Mintz is especially skilled at scavenging for steals up high.

Tech has played its best this year when it’s moving the ball briskly and creating angles off the second side.  Hard cuts, snappy ball rotation, not driving into traffic, limiting turnovers that lead to runouts – all will be key on Saturday.  It may be too much to expect 18 three-pointers again, but can the Yellow Jackets’ three-point shooting sync up as well?  The Orange are 10-1 this year when allowing less than 35-percent three-point shooting, but 6-8 when they allow greater than 35 percent.

Georgia Tech is shooting 35.4 percent from three-point range in ACC play.

*****

A breakout candidate on Saturday?  Take away the UNC game, when a head injury ended his night after four minutes, and Baye Ndongo is averaging 16.8 points on 62-percent field goal shooting in Georgia Tech’s home ACC games.  He’ll duel on Saturday with the 6-8 Brown, a high-motor, multi-faceted defender who had a 5-block, 5-steal game against Louisville.

 

Miles Kelly hit seven threes as part of Tech’s school-record 18 last February at the JMA Wireless Dome.

 

Jim Boeheim may have left, but Syracuse’s offense still prioritizes spacing and guard freedom – and has drawn the attention of a certain former guard.

“Their tandem at guard is probably, scoring-wise, the best in the league,” Stoudamire remarked on Friday.

Between sophomore Judah Mintz (18.4 ppg) and Notre Dame transfer J.J. Starling (13.6 ppg), the Orange have a pair of kinetic, north-south drivers who look to constantly punish defenders off the dribble.  Mintz in particular can be a menace:  in addition to being the ACC’s fourth-leading scorer, he leads the ACC in fouls drawn per 40 minutes.  Small forward Chris Bell has made 15 of 27 threes over his last three games and is waiting on standby if Mintz or Starling collapse the defense.  Given Georgia Tech’s issues with first-half foul trouble, defending with discipline will be at a premium Saturday.

For all their athleticism, though, the Orange actually have the lowest offensive rebounding percentage in ACC play (21.8 percent).  After a frustrating night clearing the defensive glass against Notre Dame, the Jackets can’t afford to take anything for granted.

*****

Adrian Autry signed with Syracuse in 1990 following a McDonald’s All-American career in the Bronx, N.Y.

He can partially credit a Georgia Tech legend for getting him there.

Said Jim Boeheim at Autry’s introductory press conference:  “He scored 30 points in New York City against [future NBA player] Kenny Anderson and I said, ‘that’s a guy we need to get to come to Syracuse.’”

*****

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 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.

RELATED HEADLINES

Men's Basketball FRIDAY REWIND: Men's Basketball Downs Georgia Southern

Yellow Jackets begin their first season under Damon Stoudamire with a 22-point win over the Eagles

FRIDAY REWIND: Men's Basketball Downs Georgia Southern
Men's Basketball George, Murphy Earns Spots on All-ACC Academic Team

Freshman guard, graduate senior performed well on and off the court in 2023-24

George, Murphy Earns Spots on All-ACC Academic Team
Men's Basketball Georgia Tech #ProJackets Basketball Report

News and notes on the Yellow Jackets in the professional ranks

Georgia Tech #ProJackets Basketball Report
Partner of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Legends Partner of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Partner of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Partner of Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets