Monday Mornings from McCamish: 2/3

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 12-10, 3-6 following a 1-1 week with a loss at home to North Carolina and a win on the road against Wake Forest.

Wednesday 1/29: North Carolina 78 Georgia Tech 65

On an icy Wednesday evening Georgia Tech dropped its third consecutive home game at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The busy roads of Atlanta were eerily abandoned, the game wasn’t on any of your one thousand television channels, and the sellout crowd didn’t even fill half the stadium. But perhaps the most bizarre development of the night was the Tar Heels’ second half intensity and efficiency en route to their first road win in over two months.

The Heels shot a scalding 16 of 24 from the field in the final half, led by Marcus Paige who nailed all six of his shots including three treys. North Carolina scored 52 points in the second period doubling their first half total. Although the Tar Heels’ energy had been AWOL over the past few weeks, Wednesday night reminded all of us that the talent never left.

All things considered Tech hung tough throughout; the 13 point margin of victory was Carolina’s largest lead of the game. But again, as has been the case too many times this season, Tech couldn’t find a key shot or big stop when it needed one. The Jackets had multiple opportunities during the game to sway momentum, but none better than after a Trae Golden three cut the deficit to two points. The shot was erased less than 20 seconds later after Marcus Paige drained a corner three to spark a 9-2 Carolina run that created, what turned out to be, an insurmountable advantage. Throw in shooting percentages of 41.8% from the floor, 23.5% from beyond the arc and a back-breaking 57.7% from the charity strike and it’s impressive that Tech hung around as long as it did.

Saturday 2/1: Georgia Tech 79 Wake Forest 70

Taking on an ACC opponent squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, playing on a court on which visiting teams were 1-12 and carrying only eight scholarship players, Tech wasn’t exactly a favorite. Lose your starting point guard in the first ten minutes, it’s probably time to start warming up the bus.

And then just like that the Jackets handed Wake Forest only its second home loss of the season by a final score of 79-70.

Marcus Georges-Hunt spearheaded the Yellow Jacket attack with a career-high 23 points. Meanwhile Daniel Miller co-authored the win with his fifth double-double of the season (16 points, 14 rebounds – seven on the offensive glass!). But what was most encouraging on Saturday afternoon was the complementary performance of the supporting cast.

Tech’s bench scored 27 points. Chris Bolden reached double figures for the third time this season with 12 on the afternoon. It’s far from coincidence that Bolden’s three 10+ point performances have led to all of Tech’s three conference wins. In addition to Bolden, Stacey Poole Jr.’s eight point total was his highest in an ACC game since arriving on the Flats.

Also worth noting was Ron Wamer’s five minutes on the floor due to Trae Golden’s pulled groin. The walk-on hadn’t played since December 7th and logged a career-high five minutes. In fact, Tech is 4-0 in Wamer’s four appearances – although that may actually be just a coincidence.

Saturday’s victory may be Tech’s most impressive of the season given the circumstances. So while some appear to have written this season off as a disaster, Tech is on pace to match the same conference win total as a year prior despite the rash of injuries. Furthermore there are several winnable games left on the schedule beginning on this Tuesday night.

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Looking Ahead:

Tuesday 2/4 7:00pm: Georgia Tech (12-10, 3-6) at Clemson (14-6, 5-3)

Georgia Tech will travel to Clemson on Tuesday night to compete in its fourth road game in a five game stretch. The Tigers are off to their best ACC start since the 2008-09 season and are coming off an ugly 53-49 road win against the Seminoles. Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Clemson is the number two ranked defense in the country allowing only 55.8 points per game and they’ve made a living off gritty, defensive basketball. No opponent has broken the 60 point barrier at Littlejohn Coliseum this season – including the Duke Blue Devils who average over 80. Furthermore, Tech has lost eight straight at Clemson with their last victory coming in 2005 – we’re talking Jarrett Jack, Luke Schenscher, Will Bynum, B.J. Elder and company.

What little offense Clemson needs comes from small forward K.J. McDaniels. The Birmingham native leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game (Clemson’s second leading scorer is junior guard Rod Hall at 9.2). In Clemson’s game against Florida State, McDaniels scored 26 of his team’s 53 points and pulled down a Tiger-best seven rebounds.

Beyond McDaniels there isn’t much for the Tigers. As a team they are the second-lowest scoring squad in the ACC ahead of only Miami. If Tech’s wants to win back to back games for the first time since Christmas, it must create open looks and force the Tigers to score.

Tip-off is at 8:00pm and will be broadcast on All News 106.7 FM and televised on the ACCN.

Saturday 2/8 12:00pm: Virginia (17-5, 8-1) at Georgia Tech

Four days after facing the nation’s second best defense, Tech will play host to the best defense the country has to offer: Virginia.

Last Saturday, the Cavs knocked off #18 Pittsburgh on a buzzer-beating three from Atlanta native Malcolm Brogdon. The 48-45 victory resulted in the Panthers first home loss of the season and put the Cavaliers solely in second place. The Cavaliers’ 8-1 conference mark signals their best start in ACC play in over 30 years.

A defensive juggernaut, Virginia, the ACC’s second best offense, Pittsburgh, was held to a feeble 45 points (a full 30 points below their season average). They had little margin for error. Brogdon’s three with .4 seconds remaining was the Cavs only field goal in the final eight minutes. In fact, no points were scored by either team in the three minutes leading up to Brogdon’s game-winner.

Brogdon, an alumnus of Greater Atlanta Christian School, leads his team in scoring with 11.6 points per game, but is only one half the Virginia’s talented guard tandem. The other member is senior guard Joe Harris. The only returning 2013 All-ACC 1st teamer, Harris is a model of consistency. He’s put up double digits in seven of eight games (the exception was a nine point effort in a win over Notre Dame). Furthermore he has put up at least three assists during Virginia’s ongoing five game win streak.

Before facing Tech, the Cavs will host Boston College and as a result likely enter Saturday’s matchup at a gaudy 9-1. It will take a near perfect effort from Tech to defeat the Cavs, but a long-awaited return to McCamish Pavilion will be a step in the right direction.

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

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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.