Monday Mornings from McCamish: 1/27

Welcome to another edition of Monday Mornings from McCamish. This weekly segment will be released on Monday mornings throughout Georgia Tech’s Men’s Basketball 2013-14 season. We will revisit the previous week’s action as well as look ahead to the upcoming week’s games.

Last Week Recap:

Georgia Tech now stands at to 11-9, 2-5 following a two game road trip in which they defeated Boston College and lost to NC State in overtime. (A big thanks goes out to Kyle Norton who contributed the recaps).

Tuesday 1/21: Georgia Tech 68 Boston College 60

In their first meeting since last year’s ACC tournament, Georgia Tech picked up a needed road win against Boston College 68 – 60.

The Jackets sprinted out to early twelve point lead, and while the Eagles were able to keep it close, they never took the lead or tied the game up. This was due to a great shooting effort by the Yellow Jackets. In the first half Georgia Tech was absolutely on fire hitting 73% of their shots and shooting an amazing 75% from the arc. The team cooled in the second half, but still posted a shooting percentage of 52% for the whole game. Tuesday’s game was the first time this whole season that Jackets shot above 50% overall and from 3 point range.

Rebounding was another strong point for the Yellow Jackets in this game, as well as the whole season. Each Tech player had at least 2 rebounds, leading to a 12 rebound advantage over Boston College. When Robert Carter Jr. went down, questions were raised about if this Tech team could keep rebounding like it had before his injury. Well, it seems as if the entire team has simply has picked up where he left off.

It is fun (and perhaps a little unhealthy) to wonder what Tech record would look like if Tech shot like they did in this game every game.

Sunday 1/26: Georgia Tech 78 NC State 80 F/OT

Georgia Tech fought hard in its overtime loss to NC State on Sunday but came up short 80-78.

Georgia Tech and NC State battled back and forth the entire game, but Georgia tech came up just short in a thrilling overtime matchup. However one bright spot in the game was the play of Daniel Miller. Daniel Miller put up a monster stat line of 21 points and 14 rebounds. The big man is known for being a presence on defense and the boards, but this outburst of offense is a pleasant surprise from him. Daniel Miller continues to impress this season and has really stepped up as one of the major producers for this team.

Another of the game’s few bright spots was the Jackets’ improved free throw shooting. The numbers have been dismal recently from the charity stripe, but the Jackets made about 70% of their free throws in this game.

It may sound simple, but one of the major factors in the loss was missing too many shots. The Yellow Jackets actually outshot the Wolfpack by five shots, but converted four less than the Wolfpack. Once again Tech struggled to get its shots to fall. The Yellow Jackets need to improve their efficiency on offense going forward to be able to challenge opponents.

This loss to NC State and the win over Boston College are very similar. In both games the Jackets had significant rebounding advantages and overall played well defensively. The big difference is shooting percentage. When the shots are falling this Tech team is hard to beat, but when the team has an off day it shows in the final score. Shooting the ball efficiently from the field and the free throw line is what separates a close Tech win, from a close Tech defeat.

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Looking Ahead:

Wednesday 1/29 7:00pm: North Carolina (12-7, 2-4) at Georgia Tech (11-9, 2-5)

One would be hard pressed to try and find a more enigmatic team than the team that Tech will face at McCamish Pavilion on Wednesday night They’ve had statement wins over Michigan State, Louisville, and Kentucky. They’ve face-planted against the likes of Belmont and UAB. The North Carolina Tar Heels appear to have all of college basketball stumped, even their coach Roy Williams.

Just yesterday when it appeared that the Tar Heels were in a free fall at 1-4 in conference play, they proceeded to stomp Clemson 80-61 (a score that indicated the a closer game than it really was). In the rout, Carolina displayed an intensity that had been absent since the turn of the calendar year. They held a 37-21 lead at half and widened the gap in the second half to over 30 points. Even with a late, inconsequential offensive surge, the Tigers shot a woeful 34% from the field (a program worst over the last four years).

The Heels on the other hand poured on the points. F James Michael McAdoo scored a game-high 22 while shooting a blazing 9 of 13 from the field. The guard tandem of Marcus Paige and Leslie McDonald added complementing efforts of 15 and 12 points respectively. The Tar Heels shot over 55% from the floor as a team and tallied 19 assists in the win. The 80 points allowed was a season worst for the Tigers (a team that led the nation in scoring defense at 54.8 points entering Sunday).

The most notable trend for the Tar Heels of late has been the emergence of senior guard Leslie McDonald. The Memphis native has started the last three games (his only starts of the season) and responded by scoring in double digits each contest. McDonald’s career has been marred by an ACL tear and NCAA sanctioned suspension that resulted in a total of 45 games missed since the fall of 2012. McDonald is desperately looking for a strong finish to a somewhat forgettable career and he is starting to gather momentum.

As for Wednesday’s game, Coach Williams and his players have preached the necessity of urgency in the coming games. The question with this year’s Tar Heels has always been: can they put performances like these in back to back games? So far they haven’t. But Tech should expect anything but that on Wednesday night with the Heels coming off their best game in over two months.

Tip-off is at 7:00pm and will be broadcast on All News 106.7 FM and televised on ESPN2.

Sunday 1/26 1:00pm: Georgia Tech at Wake Forest (14-6, 4-3)

Entering the week the Wake Forest is tied for fifth in the ACC at a 4-3 mark and stands at 14-6 on the season. For a struggling program and head coach who has produced losing records in each of his first three seasons, this success couldn’t have come soon enough.

That being said, the Demon Deacons do not dominate one facet of the game in the particular. They score, rebound, and defend sufficiently, but not dominantly. They have a senior leader in forward Travis McKie who provides experience for a young team (the other four starters are only sophomores). The Deacon attack consists of three double digit scorers (Codi Miller-MacIntyre, Devin Thomas, and Travis McKie) and two more above eight. Bottom line: they are balanced and competitive in nearly every game.

That being said, the defining aspect of this team is that they can win. And do so in the clutch.

Wake is 7-2 in games decided by 10 points or fewer; a sample that includes all four of their ACC wins. They knocked off NC State at the buzzer, Virginia Tech on the road, and Notre Dame just two days ago to preserve a 12-0 mark at home. After 11-2 run gave the Irish a one point lead with just over two minutes to go, Wake wasn’t fazed. The Deacs proceeded to score on their next six possessions to seal their 14th win of the season. A win total that hasn’t hasn’t been exceeded in a single season since head coach Jeff Bzdelik arrived in 2010).

Ultimately, the Jackets have struggled to win close games and on the road this year. Wake Forest has exceled in crunch time and at home (not withstanding this Wednesday’s home game against #2 Syracuse). Tech will have to reverse these trends if they hope to defeat the Deacons at the Joel on Saturday afternoon.

Tip-off is at 12:00pm and will be broadcast on All News 106.7 FM and televised on RSN.

Be sure to check back next week for a new edition of Monday Mornings from McCamish, but in the meantime follow @WREKSports on Twitter and like us on Facebook (under “WREK Sports”) to receive in-game updates and analysis.

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