Feb. 16, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
There was a fine story in Saturday’s paper about the prospect of Marcus Georges-Hunt emerging as Georgia Tech’s “go-to” player. There were signs aplenty on Saturday afternoon that the freshman wing can be that.
More importantly, Tech’s 57-56 win at Wake Forest was significant because any win on the road in the ACC is, and in this one the Jackets won on the work of many; not one.
Tech scored 35 points in the first 30 minutes, and the Jackets missed a couple week’s worth of short-range shots in that time, not to mention missing six of their first eight free throws. Fortunately, Tech scored 22 in the final 10 minutes while shooting 7-for-10.
Georges-Hunt scored nine of his game-high 16 in that time. Z,pz. “He’s a tough kid, and even though he’s a freshman, I think he knows that I have a lot of trust in him,” coach Brian Gregory said. “I went to him four or five times down the stretch, and he made big play after big play for us.
“I think one of the illustrious members of the media asked me if he’d be a guy that I see as a, ‘go-to,’ guy because we’ve had so many close games. We’ve gone back and forth as to who we’re going to have make big plays. I thought he did a pretty good job of helping me find that answer today.”
That may have been the first time the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ken Sugiura has been referred to as illustrious. Hopefully, Saturday was not the last time that Georges-Hunt comes through.
It bears mentioning that in the midst of a season that frankly is chiefly about prospects, Marcus had plenty of help. The Jackets bucked up at money time, winning in a house where Wake had been 4-1 in league play, including a 71-46 demolition of Florida State last weekend. The Demon Deacons’ only ACC home loss had been to Duke.
When Marcus missed a dunk with 10 seconds left and the Jackets trailing by one (it looked like he was fouled, but Tech knows about refs choking on their whistles at the end), fellow freshman Robert Carter Jr. grabbed the rebound. Then, miracle of miracles, Wake’s Aaron Rountree III was called for a foul as Carter tried the go-ahead stickback.
Carter dropped two freebies for a 57-56 lead with 8.7 seconds to go. The Jackets made their last seven free throws – 100 percent.
Tech’s defense finished it off. Georges-Hunt tipped Wake pass out of bounds with a couple seconds left before Wake’s Devon Thomas missed a potential buzzer-beating game winner. The Deacons shot just 29.2 percent on the day.
Wake coach Jeff Bzdelik said, “They did a good job of covering everybody [on the final play].”
Getting to that point took work. Wake led 42-37 with 8:30 left in the game.
From there, there were many Tech plays worth mentioning. Carter scored six of his 10 between that point and the end. Daniel Miller scored five of his 15, and registered one of his five blocked shots. Chris Bolden had a huge steal and a layup for a 53-all tie with 1:36 on the clock.
Simply put, down the stretch the Jackets made enough positive plays to cancel out earlier negatives.
“I thought that Daniel Miller was tremendous defensively,” Gregory said. “I don’t think he always gets the credit that he deserves . . . even with five blocks today. He probably had 15 to 18 deflections as well. He gets six rebounds, but very rarely does his man ever get one.”
Saturday was rough for the bench (4-for-20 shooting), although Brandon Reed grabbed six rebounds, Julian Royal offered more than in quite a while (five points, three rebounds), and Jason Morris played briefly for the first time in an even longer while.
The starters did fine work. Mfon Udofia’s six assists were not to be overlooked. The Jackets (14-10, 4-8 ACC) have won four of seven in ACC action after an 0-5 start.
“We didn’t play very well [Thursday] night, and we give Clemson credit on that,” Gregory said. “I though our guys bounced back with a hard-fought win . . . these are worth a lot. Obviously, Wake has played tremendously well at home with great energy . . . We needed to match that today, and I thought we did that.”