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Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

There’s a fine line between confidence and complacency, and Damon Stoudamire sensed the needle tipping in the wrong direction.

A two-game win streak has rightfully given Georgia Tech (13-16, 6-12 ACC) a renewed sense of confidence heading into the final week of the regular season.  But in Stoudamire’s mind, that’s only an invitation to work harder, not feel like they’ve arrived.  Which is why Tech’s head coach had no problem giving some pointed words his players at their practice Monday morning.

“Guys want a pat on the back for winning games.  And I’m like nah, you’ve got to get greedy,” he explained on his radio show.

“When I tasted success, I wanted more.  And that’s what we’re trying to breed.  That’s the fight.  That’s the battle very single day with these guys,” he added.

For the record, Tech had another shootaround on Monday night to sharpen its focus further.  And nothing can snap a team back to attention like facing the opponent that dealt you your most humbling defeat of the season.

Back on Feb. 6, Wake Forest (18-11, 10-8 ACC) steamrolled Tech 80-51 at McCamish Pavilion, at one point holding the Yellow Jackets scoreless for more than eight minutes.  There’s even more reason for Tech to bring the energy Tuesday:  Wake Forest has gone 15-0 at home this year, and after a two-game losing streak, the Demon Deacons enter the week as Joe Lunardi’s “Last Team In” for the NCAA Tournament.

Enjoy your pre-tip reads before Tech dives into the final road trip of the season (9 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network):

X-factor? Miles Kelly followed a scoreless game against Wake Forest with 36 against Louisville earlier this month. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Humbling as that loss was, Georgia Tech at least has company:  Wake Forest has four ACC wins by 25 or more points, a first in program history.

When the Demon Deacons get into a flow state offensively, few teams in the ACC look more dangerous.  Time and again in Atlanta, Wake Forest made savvy reads on pick-and-rolls, whether it was slips to its bigs, kickouts to its guards, or drives by its ball handlers.  Yet surprisingly, the Demon Deacons finished with a lower efficiency rating against the Jackets (1.08 PPP) than their season average (1.18 PPP).

Credit Tech with holding Wake to 5-of-21 shooting from three-point range (23.8 pct.), the Deacs’ lowest percentage in a win this year.  Hunter Sallis (18.1 ppg) remains one of the ACC’s most skilled three-level scorers, while Kevin Miller (15.7 ppg) is a water bug guard in the mold of Notre Dame’s Markus Burton.  6-4 Cameron Hildreth (13.5 ppg) also bruised Tech for 17 points and four assists in the first meeting.

Wake Forest’s offense is predicated on getting teams in rotation.  Georgia Tech did a terrific job staying between the ball and its man against Florida State.  Can Tech keep that same positioning and awareness in the rematch with Wake?

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That suspicious lack of sweat beading down your forehead?

Until Saturday, Georgia Tech’s last eight wins had all been within one possession in the final 30 seconds of regulation.

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You wouldn’t fault him for erasing the footage, or at least wanting to start fresh.  But in breaking down his team’s offensive performance against Wake Forest, Stoudamire said one issue stuck out.

“I didn’t think we played with pace and speed.  I watched the first half.  We just didn’t have any energy,” Stoudamire said on his radio show.

That stagnant ball movement led to shots that alternated between rushed and timid.  As the numbers show, since the Wake Forest game, there’s a clear separation in Georgia Tech’s assist rate between its wins and losses:

Assist Rate – Last 6 games

  • 3 wins:  63%
  • 3 losses:  50%

They’ll need to carry over their sharp ball movement from Florida State – Wake Forest smothered the Yellow Jackets’ guards on hedges and played with deep drops on pick-and-rolls, which jammed up Tech’s rhythm on offense.  Worth remembering: Miles Kelly suffered through a scoreless first game against Wake.  It may seem odd for a leading scorer to be an X-factor in the rematch, but Miles could fill that role on tonight.

Baye Ndongo’s 14 rebounds helped the Jackets snare 55 against FSU, their second most ever against an ACC team. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Since 2018, there have been three times where a power conference team grabbed 55 rebounds in regulation versus another power conference team.

Georgia Tech has been involved in two of them.

55+ rebounds in a regulation game (Since 2018-19)

  1. Louisville vs. Georgia Tech (2-1-21) 56
  2. Auburn vs. Alabama (2-12-20) 56
  3. Georgia Tech vs. Florida State (3-2-24) 55

How much can the Yellow Jackets’ reinvigorated rebounding change the complexion of Tuesday’s game?  Georgia Tech not only shot a season-low 28.3 percent against Wake Forest, but they compounded their problems by posting a season-low offensive rebounding percentage (5 offensive rebounds on 43 missed field goals).  The Demon Deacons also used their defensive rebounding to trigger lightning-quick fast breaks; Stoudamire said his team needs to do a better job locating shooters in transition, particularly Wake’s 6-11 stretch-four Andrew Carr (13.4 ppg), and force them to ease on the throttle when they enter their offense.

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Associate head coach Karl Hobbs received a rare handshake after the handshake line Saturday courtesy of Florida State guard Darin Green Jr.  The FSU senior flagged down Hobbs as he was strolling to the locker room to pass along a hello from his Dad, who played at George Washington University in the mid-1990’s.  Hobbs coached at George Washington from 2001-2011, a stint that included a first-round loss to Georgia Tech in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

And who poured in 17 points that day to end Hobbs’ season?  His fellow assistant B.J. Elder.

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Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network.  See you in Winston-Salem.

-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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