Monday Mornings from McCamish: 2/24

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 now sits below .500 for the first time this season (13-14, ACC 4-10) following a disappointing 0-2 week

Tuesday 2/18: #5 Duke 68 Georgia Tech 74

After a weekend off, Tech hosted its highest ranked foe since the 2011-12 season in the fifth-ranked Duke Blue Devils. The end result wasn’t pretty.

Duke used lethal long range shooting to jump out to a 12-3 advantage in the opening four minutes. The deficit grew to a full 18 points before the half and Tech never recovered.

A couple highlights for the Jackets:

1) Robert Carter Jr. put up 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds each of which were personal bests since his double-double performance against Kennesaw State back in December.

2) Chris Bolden reached double figures for the fifth time this season and third time in his last five games. Most notably, Bolden went to the free throw line seven times (his previous season high was a meager three attempts). While this may not seem like a significant observation, Chris has struggled mightily on the offensive end this season and any way to pick up easy points can be a boost to his confidence. He’s trending in the right direction and that could mean good news for Georgia Tech.

But to be fair, it’s rarely any use discussing such a lopsided defeat. As Coach Gregory said in his postgame press conference, “most lessons in life, you have to live them, not talk about them or watch them. We lived one tonight.” In other words, as often as a coach teaches, elaborates and coaches so much, there are very few methods of teaching more effective than getting your butt kicked. Those are hard to forget.

Saturday 2/22: Clemson 63 at Georgia Tech 55

As discouraging as Tuesday night’s loss was from start to finish, Tech showed signs of life in the second half. The same could not be said on Saturday as the Yellow Jackets dropped their ninth straight to the Clemson Tigers after holding a nine point lead in the second half.

In the final seven minutes Clemson seized its fourth ACC road win of the season with a 13-2 run. The surge was sparked by a pair of threes from Damarcus Harrison. Harrison, who has been criticized for his lack of effort, punctuated the run with a steal -“and-1” combo to give Clemson a seven point lead with just two minutes remaining.

Meanwhile Tech’s offense struggled mightily, particularly inside. After scoring 10 points and shooting five of seven in the opening half, Daniel Miller was eliminated in the second half – only four points and one field goal attempt (which came in the half’s first 30 seconds). As a whole the Jackets were outscored 40-26 in the final 20 minutes and shot 37.5% after shooting 50% before intermission.

The loss gave Tech its second consecutive loss and completed a 1-3 homestand. Tech has four games remaining in the regular season including three straight on the road beginning this Wednesday in South Bend.


Looking Ahead:

Wednesday 2/26 7:00pm: Georgia Tech (13-14, 4-10) at Notre Dame (14-14, 5-10)

Georgia Tech and Notre Dame stage their inaugural meeting in South Bend as ACC foes (a matchup that is figured to be seen for years to come as Notre Dame is Tech’s newest home and away partner replacing Wake Forest).

While the Jackets aren’t playing their best brand of basketball, the Fighting Irish are in a comparable slump. Notre Dame has lost two straight including a 70-49 debacle this past weekend. The roof caved in on the Irish around the 12 minute mark when Virginia staged a 30-5 run – a run that bore eerie similarities to the 20-1 run the Cavs poured on Tech just over two weeks ago.

The Jackets picked up their first ACC win of the season back in January against the Irish by a score of 74-69. Although the win came without the aid of Robert Carter Jr., Tech had success stifling Notre Dame’s leading scorer, C Garrick Sherman, who was held scoreless until the final 10 minutes.

Come Wednesday however, it might not be Sherman that the Jackets need to worry about. Junior Pat Connaughton has led Notre Dame in points each of the last three games including a lethal shooting performance against Miami where he put up 22 points and hit six of seven treys. Not too shabby for a future top pick in the Major League Baseball draft as a right handed pitcher.

The junior brings both size (6-5, 214) and athleticism to the table which makes him a tough matchup for either Carter Jr. or Georges-Hunt. It is critical the Jackets consistently apply pressure to Connaughton.

The advantage for the Jackets, as usual, is on the boards. Last time the two teams met they split the battle on the boards right down the middle with 28 apiece. But that came without Carter Jr. and a consequently fatigued Daniel Miller. With Carter Jr. in the rotation, look for Tech to return to its bread and butter in Indiana this Wednesday.

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

Sunday 3/2 6:00pm: Georgia Tech at Florida State (16-11, 7-8)

The one and only meeting between the Jackets and Seminoles comes late in the season and with two teams in starkly different positions. While Tech is staving off the ACC cellar, Florida State has their sights on the NCAA tournament.

The Noles picked up a critical, resume-boosting 71-66 win at Pittsburgh last night and now have a full week off before hosting the Jackets this Sunday evening.

The last time the two teams met, the contest went down to the wire before three time All-ACC selection Michael Snaer scored the game-winning basket at the buzzer to send McCamish Pavilion home unsatisfied. This season Tech needn’t worry about Snaer and his “smh”-inducing five ACC buzzer beaters (the former Seminole is currently playing abroad in Italy).

Instead, the Jackets will need to shift their focus to a tandem of Tallahassee guards in Ian Miller and Aaron Thomas.

Miller, a senior, brings a lot more than just experience to the table. He leads the team in scoring (13.6 ppg), assists (3.0 apg) and three pointers made (51 – at 40% clip). It is worth noting at this time, that Trae Golden leads the Jackets in treys made this year with just 35 – at a 33% clip. Miller is noticeably hot as of late scoring totals of 13, 25, 22, and 19 in his last four games since returning from an ankle injury.

Thomas, a sophomore, is a rising scorer in full bloom. He’s reached double figures in eight straight games including a double-double (19 points, 14 rebounds) in a win at Winston-Salem. What was particularly impressive by the Ohio native was the way he continued his scoring streak last night at Pitt. He went just one of nine from the field but found his way to the free throw line 12 times, making 11. He also boasts a 41% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Bottom line, he can score in a variety of ways.

With a tournament berth on the line, a full week off and home court advantage, the scales are tipped heavily in favor of Florida State this week. Tech will need to bring its ‘A’ game to Tallahassee if they are looking to pull the upset.

Tip-off is at 6:00pm and will be broadcast on All News 106.7 FM and televised on ESPNU.

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.