Monday Mornings from McCamish: 3/3

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:

Georgia Tech’s losing streak has reached four as the Jackets dropped two conference road games to fall to 13-16 and 4-12 in the ACC.

Wednesday 2/26: Georgia Tech 62 Notre Dame 65

In what seems to be the recurring theme of 2013-2014 season, Georgia Tech seesawed back and forth between its outstanding potential to inexplicable dysfunction.

The Yellow Jackets led by eight with four minutes remaining in the first half only to trail by two after the first 20 minutes. The Irish pulled away, leading by nine, but Tech swung the game back in their favor to cut the deficit to a single point with less than six minutes remaining. Then following another defensive stop, Tech had the ball with a chance to take their first lead since the opening period. In painfully predictable fashion the Jackets produced an empty possession culminating in a Marcus Georges-Hunt turnover despite two open looks followed by two offensive rebounds.

The Irish took advantage of the Ramblin’ Wreck’s missed opportunity and built a 63-56 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Tech fought back to cut it to one and again had the ball with a chance to take control, but Robert Carter Jr. had it stolen away only moments later. And while Carter and the Jackets had two looks at the buzzer to force overtime, Tech had missed too many prior opportunities to argue that it had a right to win anyway.

The sophomore trio highlighted the Yellow Jacket box score: Carter (19 points, 10 rebounds), Georges-Hunt (13 points, 3 assists) and Chris Bolden (9 points by way of going 3 for 3 from deep). Carter’s performance was notably encouraging considering his trying effort on Saturday against Clemson in which he scored just once – a made free throw in the final five minutes.

Yet the weak performances from Trae Golden (which ESPN so kindly reminded us of every five minutes by displaying his woeful numbers) proved insurmountable. In 31 minutes Trae Golden’s play was a sour goose egg: 0 for 10 from the field, 0 for 5 on treys, and a not-so-consoling two assists. It should be noted at this time that the Jackets would be eons worse than they are today without Trae, but his performance in South Bend left much to be desired.

Sunday 3/2: Georgia Tech 71 Florida State 81

Georgia Tech arrived in Tallahassee on a season worst three game losing streak (which in itself speaks highly of this team’s ability to put losses behind them). Nonetheless, Georgia Tech left Tallahassee late last night with the streak still intact.

Unlike Wednesday night, the Georgia Tech starting five produced across the board. Daniel Miller (11 points and 13 rebounds) posted his sixth double-double of the season while his front court partner Robert Carter Jr. scored 20 points – just one shy of his career-high. Trae Golden (16 points) and Marcus Georges-Hunt (8 points in 18 minutes) also provided high-caliber performances in supporting roles on Oscar night.

Unfortunately for the White and Gold, Florida State, squarely on the tournament bubble, didn’t leave anything to chance. The Seminoles shot a scalding 52% from the floor including 62% after halftime. The Jackets didn’t do themselves any favors by sending the Noles to line 36 times (to Tallahassee’s credit they made 31 of them). Just as dooming as Florida State’s frequent free throws was the five for 27 performance from Georgia Tech beyond the arc. As a rule of thumb, when shooting below 20% it’s not wise to shoot three times your season average in attempts.

Georgia Tech’s loss is their ninth straight to the Seminoles – a program most would equate the Jackets to. And things will not get any easier come Tuesday night when the Jackets travel to the Carrier Dome.

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Looking Ahead:

Tuesday 3/4 7:00pm: Georgia Tech (13-16, 4-12) at #7 Syracuse (26-3, 13-3)

On Tuesday night the Carrier Dome will play host to two struggling teams. Of course the term struggling is relative. The host Syracuse Orange have lost three of their last four, but still sit securely in the AP’s Top 10. The visiting Yellow Jackets have lost each of their last four and haven’t sniffed the Top 25 this season.

So while Cuse may not be playing its basketball of late, an off night for the Orange may still be better than a good night for Tech.

With all of that acknowledged, if the Jackets hope to take down #7 Syracuse in a hostile environment, Tech must do a few things:

  1. Improve guard play dramatically and rapidly. Syracuse is in the top 20 in steals per game with over eight. Furthermore the Orange are ranked fifth in fewest total turnovers and average fewer than nine per game. Georgia Tech on the other hand has had tremendous difficulty handling and applying pressure and consequently ranks outside the top 150 in both categories (278th in country with 5.2 steals per game and 170th with 12.4 turnovers per game).
  2. Contain C.J. Fair. Fair, a senior forward, was named the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year (which considering he had never played a game in the ACC prior to this season is quite remarkable). But conference realignment snark aside, C.J. Fair personifies what can be described as the perfect college player. He brings big-time playing experience in both the Big East, ACC and the 2013 Final Four. He also is a model for consistency scoring double figures in 27 of 29 games this season and averaging 39.4 minutes in conference play. He’s the Phidippides of ACC basketball and given his track record it’s highly unlikely Tech will be able to do much more than slow him down, if that.
  3. Lastly, Tech will need Syracuse to take its nose-dive on an even steeper decline. Even though Syracuse has lost three of their last four, only one defeat has been a true head scratcher – Boston College. But given that Syracuse had been flirting with disaster in the prior games and that they had had every break known to man go their way until that point maybe the BC loss is understandable. The other two losses came on the road against what are now top 10 teams in Duke and Virginia. A win for Tech on Tuesday night would be nothing short of shocking.

That being said, crazier things have happened in college basketball and the old adage of “that’s why you play the games” bears mentioning here because quite frankly little else does. It’ll take a miracle, but then again the calendar has flipped to March.

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

Saturday 3/8 2:00pm: Virginia Tech (9-19, 2-14) at Georgia Tech

Coming off an upset at 7th ranked Syracuse, Georgia Tech looks to close out the regular season on a two game winning streak as Virginia Tech comes into McCamish Pavilion this Saturday, March 8th.  The Jackets have had what most would consider a disappointing season as they have been ravished by injuries throughout the season.  Players to have extended time this season include Trae Golden, Robert Carter Jr., and Travis Jorgensen; all of whom have contributed or were expected to contribute on some level this season.  By winning against Virginia Tech this Saturday, the Jackets will have their first ACC win streak under head coach Brian Gregory right before the start of the ACC tournament.

In order to win, the Jackets will need to slow down the Hokies’ two top players, Jarell Eddie and Devin Wilson.  Eddie, a senior from Charlotte, is averaging 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while Wilson, a freshman from Mckees Rocks, Pennsylvania is putting up 9.5 points and 4.8 assists per game.  The Hokies have had a lack-luster season as they are only 2-15 in the ACC and 9-19 overall.  Georgia Tech will hope to extend Virginia Tech’s losing streak to 6 straight games and close the season out on a positive note! Not to mention wrap up the careers of Daniel Miller, Trae Golden and Kammeon Holsey.

Tip-off is at 2:00pm and will be broadcast on All News 106.7 FM and televised on ESPN2.

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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