By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets
The streak has hummed along for more than a decade now, impressive but often overlooked.
It may not be as venerated as North Carolina’s 59-game streak over Clemson, but Georgia Tech (7-9, 1-5 ACC) has quietly put together its own run of home court dominance over an ACC opponent. Entering its game against Wake Forest (14-4, 4-3 ACC) at McCamish Pavilion, Georgia Tech has won 14 straight home games over the Demon Deacons dating back to 2004. The last time the Yellow Jackets fell to Wake in Atlanta, a freshman named Chris Paul scored the game-winning basket.
That streak may get tested Wednesday against a Wake Forest team that has emerged as a surprise threat in the ACC. After lurching to a 3-15 conference record a year ago under new head coach Steve Forbes, the Demon Deacons have won three of their last four, including a 63-55 win over Virginia Saturday that snapped a 9-game losing streak to the Cavaliers.
Wake will look to topple a more towering streak Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets will look to keep it business as usual against the Deacs – and revert to their recent form in home ACC games in the process. Tech has lost its first three ACC games at McCamish this year after winning 15 of its previous 16.
Enjoy the top five notes from my chart as the Jackets begin a four-game homestand to close out January (7 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):
In his career against Wake Forest, Michael Devoe has averaged 19.2 points and shot 61.4 percent from the floor. (photo by Danny Karnik)
After watching its offensive and defensive chemistry on film, Josh Pastner came to a realization about Wake Forest.
“It reminds me a lot of our team from last year,” Pastner said.
Much like the Jackets of 2020-21, the Demon Deacons rely on a core of veterans they’ve cultivated from the transfer portal. No player has benefitted from a change of scenery more than 6-5 guard Alondes Williams, a 6.7-point-a-game scorer at Oklahoma who currently leads the ACC in scoring and assists.
Just how unlikely has Williams’ ascent been? His single-game career high at Oklahoma was 15 points. He’s averaging 20.3 points per game this year.
- PPG: 20.3 (#1 ACC)
- APG: 4.9 (#1 ACC)
- FG%: 54.2% (#4 ACC)
In addition to his shot-making ability, Williams is a great rebounder for his size and an elite passer against zones, particularly on skips from the slot to the weak-side corner. Jake LaRavia (14.8 ppg, #2 ACC FG pct.), a 6-9 transfer from Indiana State, gives him a point-forward sidekick with a similar feel for finishing and facilitating. Together, they lead a 5-out motion offense that features plenty of curls, backdoors and false action. Post players step out and shoot threes. Perimeter players post up and back down defenders Barkley-style from the long post. Along with 6-1 senior Daivien Williamson (12.4 ppg), Wake Forest has been significantly more efficient from two-point range, leading the ACC in red zone scoring according to Hoops IQ. They don’t just get there, they finish there too: Wake ranks fifth nationally in two-point field goal percentage according to KenPom (58.3 pct.). They’re also dangerous in late shot clock situations, ranking in the 95th percentile of efficiency according to Synergy.
Georgia Tech will need to play passing lanes well and build a wall in its dribble-drive defense. Can they also find some runouts off turnovers? Wake Forest does rank last in the ACC in conference play in turnover percentage, coughing it up on 19.3 percent of possessions according to KenPom. For all his offensive gifts, Williams has turned it over 26 times over his last four games.
Georgia Tech’s switch to a smaller lineup was offensively motivated, but it also had the collateral effect of forcing the Yellow Jackets to play more zone.
Could zone be Georgia Tech’s best weapon Wednesday? Wake Forest ranks in the 85th percentile in offensive efficiency versus man-to-man according to Synergy.
They only rank in the 40th percentile of efficiency versus zone.
Six-foot-8 stretch-four Isaiah Mucius (38.1 pct. 3pt.), who had a team-high 21 points against Tech in Winston-Salem last year, is the Demon Deacons’ most opportunistic three-point threat. His 14 three-point attempts against Syracuse are the most by an ACC player this year.
Michael Devoe has traded the ACC scoring lead for much of the year with Williams, though the senior yielded some ground after finishing with a season-low two points against North Carolina. Time and again, Devoe found driving lanes clogged and shots contested against the Tar Heels’ 6-8 Leaky Black.
He may have found the right opponent for a rebound, though:
Michael Devoe – Career vs. Wake Forest (4 games):
- PPG: 19.2
- FG%: 61.4%
- 3pt.%: 52.4% (11 of 21)
Wake Forest and Georgia Tech were the only two places where Devoe took an official visit out of high school in Orlando, Fla.
He’ll face a Demon Deacons defense that likes to keep the ball on the outer third of the floor and “ice” ball screens, a coverage that tries to funnel plays toward the baseline. Tech will need to cut hard so the Demon Deacons can’t load the ball side.
Saba Gigiberia scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in games vs. Duke and North Carolina. (photo by Jaylynn Nash)
Saba Gigiberia had a confidence-building box score against North Carolina, logging four points and four rebounds across 14 minutes in Chapel Hill. With the possible return of Rodney Howard, Georgia Tech could have both of its bigs as they battle against a pair of sixth-year transfers who have fortified Wake’s frontcourt. Seven-footer Dallas Walton, a transfer from Colorado, is a skilled jump hook shooter who can also extend his range to the three-point line. Khadim Sy, a 6-10 transfer from Ole Miss, is a rangy rim runner who likes to create off slips.
As physical as the game may be, though, the 7-1 Gigiberia will likely play it with a smile. She won’t arrive until after the game Wednesday, but Saba’s Mom will be visiting her son this week for the first time at Tech. Saba estimates he’s only seen his Mom for a total of three weeks over the last three years. Gigiberia’s aunt has lived in Buckhead for the past 20 years, and she brings her sons – Saba’s cousins – to McCamish Pavilion regularly.
Sy has scored 4 points in his career against Georgia Tech.
It took place five years and three teams ago.
The Dakar, Senegal, native began his career at Virginia Tech, and started against the Yellow Jackets as a true freshman on Jan. 18, 2017 in Blacksburg. Sy transferred from Virginia Tech to Daytona State College, then landed at Ole Miss before hopping in the portal for one last dance with Wake Forest.
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..