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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

The statistic may elicit surprise, or encouragement, or frustration, or possibly a combination of all three.

Despite its 2-6 ACC record, Georgia Tech (9-10 overall), ranks a surprising second in the league in field goal percentage in conference play, shooting a brisk 46.5 percent.  That includes back-to-back road games of 50 percent or better, which bucks the traditional belief that teams shoot worse away from home.

There have been other reasons for Tech’s ACC record.  And Damon Stoudamire has acknowledged that missed shots, even in short stretches, have impacted his team’s defensive intensity at times.  But pinning Georgia Tech’s current conference record on inaccurate shooting would be, well, inaccurate.

The only team shooting better than Tech in ACC play?  The Yellow Jackets’ next opponent, Virginia Tech (12-7, 4-4 ACC), whom they’ll face at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.

Field goal % (ACC only)

  1. Virginia Tech – 47.8%
  2. Georgia Tech – 46.5%

The Yellow Jackets will try to find that shooting form as they look to topple a rocky history at Cassell Coliseum.  Enjoy the top notes from my chart as Tech gets ready for another road weekend in the ACC (5 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Naithan George (2) and Kyle Sturdivant (1, below) rank 1-2 in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio in conference games. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

While its rival in Charlottesville has built an identity based on stifling defense, Virginia Tech has earned a reputation for clinical offense under fifth-year head coach Mike Young.

The Hokies run a prodigious amount of halfcourt sets, all loaded with misdirections, slips, throwbacks, screen-the-screener actions, and other clever counters.  They’ve also traditionally been one of the better screening teams in the ACC, which adds an extra degree of difficulty to defending them.  Shooting guard Hunter Cattoor (13.9 ppg) is exceedingly crafty changing speeds around screens, while junior point guard Sean Pedulla (16.1 ppg) leverages pick-and-rolls well.  Neither need time or space to get off their shot.

Unlike Pitt, which scored the majority of its points off isolations, most of Virginia Tech’s shots come off rotations and ball reversals.  Yet Cattoor, who broke the Virginia Tech school record for career three-pointers earlier this year, has had a curiously tough time finding his rhythm against the Jackets:

Hunter Cattoor – Career 3pt. averages

  • vs. Georgia Tech: 23.1%*
  • vs. Rest of opponents: 42.6%

*-6 of 26 (4 games)

Virginia Tech has struggled with turnovers at times, but Georgia Tech will need to play with high hands, make hard close outs, and have good “next pass awareness,” which sometimes eluded them against Pittsburgh.  They’ll also need to limit the Hokies in transition – Virginia Tech ranks in the 99th percentile in transition offensive efficiency according to Synergy.  Underneath, can Tech win 50-50 balls and force one-shot possessions against a Virginia Tech team that doesn’t chart highly in offensive rebounding percentage?  They’ll need to wall up and prevent deep seals from center Lynn Kidd (13.0 ppg), who leads the ACC in field goal percentage.

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A sweet-shooting, 6-1 point guard from Oklahoma?

Georgia Tech fans have heard that one before.

But the comparisons between Pedulla, a native of Edmond, and the most famous Oklahoman to roam the ACC, Enid’s Mark Price, run deeper than that.  Check out Pedulla and Price’s junior-year averages together:

Junior seasonScoringAssists
Mark Price1984-8516.7 ppg4.3 apg
Sean Pedulla2023-2416.1 ppg4.4 apg

Price was part of the first Georgia Tech team to play at Cassell Coliseum, a first-round loss in the 1984 NIT.

*****

Georgia Tech would be wise to practice bacon avoidance Saturday.

If an opponent misses two free throws at Cassell Coliseum, everyone in attendance gets a voucher for free bacon, an experience that’s been to known to send Virginia Tech fans into an ear-splitting, pork-induced delirium.

The Hokies may have had their mouths watering after seeing Tech make just 63 percent of its free throws through its first five ACC games, but the Yellow Jackets have tightened up considerably since then.  In its last three games, Tech has converted 76.5 percent from the line (39 of 51).  They can’t afford empty trips against the Hokies: at 79.9 percent, Virginia Tech ranks second nationally in free throw percentage.

It shouldn’t be surprising given his old stock-in-trade, but Damon Stoudamire likes playing two point guards at the same time.

He has good reason this year:  Naithan George and Kyle Sturdivant currently rank 1-2 in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play.

ACC rankings – Assist-to-turnover ratio (conference only)

  1. Naithan George – 3.64
  2. Kyle Sturdivant – 3.57
  3. Jalen Warley (FSU) – 3.25

With Sturdivant on the floor, Stoudamire says, “He’s able to get downhill. I think he’s able to play a little freer with Nait is on the floor and vice versa.  I think Nait finds him.  I think they complement each other.  I like the combination.”

They’ll try to run crisp offense against a Hokies team that hedges hard and helps in, yet only allows 28 percent of opponents’ points to come off three-pointers, the second lowest average in the league.  Can Tech attack closeouts, play downhill like they did to jumpstart them in the second half against Pittsburgh, and not fall into the trap of first-side shots?  Miles Kelly, playing two hours from Hargrave Military Academy where he spent his senior year of high school, will try to bounce back from the first scoreless game of his career since February of his freshman year.

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As he revealed on his radio show Monday, one of Damon Stoudamire’s rookie duties with the Toronto Raptors included purchasing a subscription to USA Today and delivering a copy each morning to his teammate, former Georgia Tech legend John Salley.  When he posed for a photo op at his introductory press conference last March, Stoudamire held up a #22 jersey, Salley’s old uniform number at Tech.  He jokingly texted Salley that he couldn’t believe Tech made him hold up his jersey.

*****

Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you in Blacksburg.

-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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