Feb. 24, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Having reversed methods dramatically in just two days’ time, Georgia Tech found itself in fine position Monday night only to run into an old foe once again. The Yellow Jackets are having a hard time shaking loose from tough luck.
Tech led No. 17 Louisville 41-28 midway through the second half in McCamish Pavilion, and reached that point with stifling defense. The Jackets never found their defense Saturday in a loss at No. 15 North Carolina, yet to that point Monday, the Cardinals had scored on just 14 of 50 possessions.
Then, Louisville (22-6, 10-5) hit five straight shots – four of them 3-pointers – and Tech’s 52-51 loss would eventually feel painfully familiar.
The Jackets (12-16, 3-13) have lost three times in ACC action by one point, twice by two, once by three and once by four.
“Again, I am disappointed in the result. That’s a tough one to swallow again,” said head coach Brian Gregory. “We played much more like we are supposed to play though in terms of the defensive effort, the energy that we played with, and in terms of sharing the ball and taking care of the ball.”
Tech went up 41-28 on DeMarco Cox’s layup with 9:40 left in the game.
That came in a nice sequence started when freshman guard Tadric Jackson blocked a Quentin Snider shot at the other end.
From there, the Cardinals took flight.
Tech turned the ball over six times after that play, and star guard Terry Rozier – whom the Jackets held to 1-of-7 shooting in the first half – hit everything.
He hit consecutive 3-pointers to start Louisville’s 14-2 run, and finished that burst with another long ball in scoring 18 of his 22 in the second half.
Cox was at his best Monday with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists, and junior Marcus Georges-Hunt pitched in 13 points and five rebounds. He committed four of his six turnovers in the final 9:07, however, as the ball was in his hands quite a bit and the Cardinals swarmed him.
Tech outrebounded Louisville 40-34, but the Cardinals cashed in on consecutive offensive rebounds and tied the game at 46 on a Wayne Blackshear 3-pointer with 1:50 left, and went ahead 48-46 on a Rozier layup with 59 seconds remaining just moments after a Georges-Hunt turnover following an inbounds pass.
“We ask a lot of Marcus…he’s kind of a go-to-guy for us,” Gregory said. “And against this team, he’s got to handle the ball a lot, make plays and make shots. And on the other end, he has to defend their best perimeter player in Rozier.
“So he’s getting challenged quite a bit in every area. But he keeps coming back, which is good to see, in terms of his attitude and the effort-level that he is playing with.”
Georges-Hunt tied the game as part of a frantic sequence where neither team had a timeout left. His layup with 24 seconds left made it 48-all, but the Cardinals got the ball quickly to Rozier on the right side and he blitzed to the goal for a layup. That gave Louisville the lead for good with just 20 seconds to go.
Blackshear added two free throws with five seconds left, and Jackson’s 3-pointer with one second left – Tech’s only long ball of the game – wasn’t enough to make up the difference.
“You know, Georgia Tech is just like us…They run great stuff, but the ball doesn’t go in,” said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. “They’re not a good shooting team and we’re not a good shooting team.
“That’s the most frustrating thing because they do so many great things offensively and so many great things defensively, and so did we. But when the ball doesn’t go in you struggle…I feel a great deal of pride, but I also feel a great deal of empathy for [Tech’s] coaching staff as well. Because I know what it is when you’re young and you don’t shoot the ball. It just eats you up.”