Feb. 3, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
In one way like last season, Georgia Tech will have its hands full in the paint Wednesday when the Yellow Jackets play at No. 4/5 Duke. Freshman phenom Jahlil Okafor is, like Jabari Parker before him, a load in the paint.
The 6-foot-11 freshman from Chicago is not a threat to inflict damage from the perimeter, where Parker was.
That doesn’t mean the Jackets will have it any easier. Okafor is averaging 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds, and he’s shooting 66.4 percent.
“It’s a different type of preparation [to defend Okafor],” said Tech head coach Brian Gregory. “There’s a big emphasis to get him post touches. Parker was so good inside, but would float out on the perimeter and provide tough matchup.
“I was a little disappointed in our post defense in the first 10 minutes of the game Saturday [against N.C. State]. We let too many easy passes into the post. Our defense is based on five guys working as one. We didn’t do a good enough job of pressuring those passes and we have to do a good job of that.”
Duke (18-3, 5-3 ACC) has plenty of scoring options. Senior guard Quinn Cook is averaging 14.4 points, and connecting on 40.3 percent of his three pointers. Freshmen Tyus Jones (11.2) and Justise Winslow (10.9) are dangerous as well.
The Jackets’ offensive options have been growing.
Junior Marcus Georges-Hunt has averaged 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.3 steals over the past three games, shooting 60 percent from the field and 77.2 percent from the free throw line. He’s been driving with authority.
Point guard Travis Jorgenson is coming off his best game. He scored a career-high 14 points Saturday against N.C. State on 5-of-7 shooting.
“His progress as he gets more and more comfortable on the court [after knee surgery last season] . . . there are glimpses of how good he’s going to become,” Gregory said. “The one aspect of his game that has improved is his ability to knock down the open shots.”
Tech (10-11, 1-8) scored 38 points in the paint in the 81-80 overtime loss to N.C. State. That’s a good number, but Gregory would’ve liked to see even more points given that the Jackets grabbed 22 offensive rebounds.
Mitchell had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Cox went for 12 and 10.
The Jackets will hope to convert better inside than they did against the Wolfpack, though, to succeed at Duke. Tech made just 13-of-27 shots at the rim.
There’s no sense dwelling on what happened last. The Blue Devils are fresh off a 69-63 come-from-behind win at No. 3 Virginia.
“You’re going on the road in this league, and no matter what you did in the last game you’ve got to put that behind you,” Gregory said. “Obviously, they played well to get a big road win at Virginia.”