Monday Mornings from McCamish: 3/10

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

Last Week Recap:

For the first time under head coach Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech won back to back ACC games and improved to 15-16, 6-12 overall.

Tuesday 3/4: Georgia Tech 67 Syracuse 62

Tuesday night’s win over #7 Syracuse was undoubtedly the biggest in the Gregory era. Sure the Jackets picked up a road win over #6 Miami around this time last year, but considering the Orange pedigree it’s really not even close.

I spoke with a Georgia Tech Athletics representative who related the win to the 2003-04 win at Cameron Indoor against #3 Duke (who had won 41 straight home games). Syracuse on the other hand had only lost at home five times in the last three years. Not exactly 41 straight, but pretty darn close.

A myriad of complementing performances propelled the unworldly upset. The frontcourt of Daniel Miller (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Robert Carter Jr. (12 points, 9 rebounds) served as centerpieces.  Holsey complemented the pair with an efficient nine points on just four shots in only 13 minutes.

In the backcourt the Jackets were outstanding (one of our three keys last week). As a whole, Tech demonstrated superb passing by way of 18 assists while committing only nine turnovers. At the helm, Golden was his usual, dominant self as he posted 16 points including an eight for eight performance from the charity stripe – six of which came in the game’s final seconds.

While the Orange received another outstanding 28 point-40 minute performance from C.J. Fair along with 18 points and seven assists from Tyler Ennis, Syracuse displayed puddle-like depth as Boeheim’s bench netted a pitiful four points. On the other hand, the Georgia Tech reserves contributed a difference-making 17 points highlighted by Holsey’s nine.

Coach Gregory wisely and correctly refused to label the game a marquee or signature win. After all, the season has been disappointing in the eyes of many. But the value of a tangible victory over an elite team cannot be overstated. The terms “great effort”, “getting closer” and “moral victory” close loss after close loss get old very quickly. But in Georgia Tech’s 67-62 win, the previously abstract progress finally translated into a concrete victory.

Saturday 3/8: Virginia Tech 51 Georgia Tech 62

Fresh off a dramatic and exhilarating win over the Syracuse Orange, many Tech fans held their breath entering the season’s final regular season game. As Ken Suguira of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out, a loss against the Hokies on Senior Day wouldn’t discredit the Syracuse win entirely, it would just ruin a lot of it.

Thankfully Tech didn’t disappoint.

Trae Golden hit a three late in the first half to give the Jackets a 19-18 advantage and they never trailed again. The lead ebbed and flowed as is the nature of basketball, but ultimately the Hokies never brought it to within single digits in the final 15 minutes (save one instance). That one instance came on a three pointer from Ben Emelogu that capped a 17-6 gobbler run and trimmed the Tech lead to 58-50. But less than 20 seconds later, the senior Golden sank a trey of his own to answer back. The Hokies never approached striking distance again.

Poetically the two most consistent performers, seniors Trae Golden and Daniel Miller, led the charge in their final home game in their collegiate career. Golden scored 14 and compiled a season-high eight assists. Starting his 124th career game (only three behind the all-time Georgia Tech record of 127 held by Malcolm Mackey), Miller again delivered with 14 points and nine boards.

And although it was the seniors’ day, the sophomore Carter Jr. led the Jackets in scoring with 16. It marked the fourth consecutive game the forward has reached double figures and a served as a nice rebound performance after scoring just one point in Tech’s most recent home game – a loss to Clemson.

The regular season-ending victory gave Coach Gregory his first ACC winning streak and also put the Jackets at 6-12 in the ACC (the same mark as in 2012-13). The mini win streak will hopefully serve as a spring board for Tech to make a run in the ACC tournament next week.

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Looking Ahead:

Click here for the complete 2014 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket

Wednesday 3/12 7:00pm: 14 Boston College (8-23, 4-14) vs 11 Georgia Tech (15-16, 6-12)

Winning five games in five days is near impossible unless you are the Connecticut Huskies who made an improbable title run in the 2011 Big East tournament (not to mention they ended up winning the national title a month later). That shouldn’t be the goal for the Coach Gregory and the Jackets.

Instead Tech needs to build upon its strong recent play and compete in every game this week regardless of how many they play. That being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t think we had a chance to make a little noise.

After all, each of the top four seeds have lost in the past week (three to unranked teams). But if Tech wants to make a run it will begin with the Boston College Eagles.

Tech will take the floor at Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday night looking to beat the Eagles for the third time in as many meetings. The last time the Jackets beat a team three times in a single season was the 2009-2010 clean sweep of the Tar Heels. That third win over Carolina also marks the last time Tech won an opening round ACC tournament game.

The most recent conference tournament loss came, in fact, against Boston College. For those of you who do not remember, consider yourself lucky. It was a demoralizing 84-64 defeat that came after Tech jumped out to an early 15-0 lead. The comeback was spearheaded by a 41 point eruption from then-freshman Oliver Hanlan.

Hanlan has built upon last season and has upped his per game average to 18 points. Junior forward Ryan Anderson also bears a heavy offensive burden for BC and has averaged over 14 points in each of the last two seasons. Unfortunately beyond Hanlan and Anderson, there aren’t many threats.

Boston College is consistently, often insurmountably, under-sized due in large part to the season-ending injury to the injury-prone seven-footer Dennis Clifford. As a result, the Eagles night in and night out are at the mercy of their three point shooting. Junior Lonnie Jackson, the Eagles premier long-range shooter, has logged point totals of 10, 2, 0, 12, 6, and 2 in the last six games. In those half-dozen games, the Eagles are 2-4 with both wins coming in Jackson’s pair of double figure performances.

Overall, Coach Donahue’s club has won just four ACC games this season. A season sweep over cellar-dweller Virginia Tech, a road win over Wake Forest and a Thermopylae-like overtime upset over undefeated Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. In their win over the Orange, the Eagles hit 11 of 22 treys and inexplicably outrebounded the #1 team in the country.

With Robert Carter Jr. back to his peak level of performance and the Jackets riding a two game win streak, Tech simply needs to maintain its high level of intensity in the paint both at the rim and on the glass to pick up its third consecutive win over the birds from Chestnut Hill.

Tip-off is at 7 pm and will be broadcast on 106.7 FM and televised on ACCN or ESPN2/U

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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