The Jackets returned home Wednesday evening to take on the Maryland Terrapins, after a brief road trip to Virginia during which Tech suffered arguably its worst loss of the season at the hands of the Cavaliers by a score of 82-54. The Jackets arguably put together their best win of the season, topping Maryland 78-68.
Redshirt junior center Daniel Miller was at work early in the first half, contributing both on offense and defense. Not only did Miller kick off Tech’s scoring with a put-back jam, but he also disrupted Maryland’s offense by breaking up passes and collecting several rebounds and a block in the early going.
Redshirt junior guard Brandon Reed knotted the game at 17 at the nine minute mark after Tech had trailed for most of the first eleven minutes of play. Reed showed that he’s a threat from behind the arc time and time again, with the Jackets’ next possession being one of those times; another Reed three-pointer gave Tech its first lead of the game. For good measure, Reed finished his hot streak with a fast break dunk and an assist to redshirt junior forward Kammeon Holsey in consecutive possessions to push the lead to seven and prompt Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon to call a timeout.
“He took good shots all night long,” said head coach Brian Gregory of Reed’s play. “Probably the best all-around game that Brandon Reed has ever played at Georgia Tech.”
After the break, Reed found sophomore forward Julian Royal in the paint who finished with an athletic move to the bucket to score his first points in several games. Royal, a highly touted high school recruit, has seen limited action this season but played six minutes of solid basketball off the bench, scoring four points and adding two steals as well inbounding the ball well against Maryland’s press.
Maryland appeared to struggle with Tech’s man-to-man defense and was harassed repeatedly by Tech’s big inside combo of Miller and freshman forward Robert Carter Jr. The Jackets out-rebounded Maryland 13-6 underneath the Terrapins’ basket in the first half.
Reed and Carter Jr. scored the half’s last four points to give the Jackets a 38-33 lead heading into the locker room.
Tech opened up the second half with five quick points, courtesy of Miller and freshman forward Marcus Georges-Hunt. Maryland threatened to close the gap after converting a three point play in which a goaltending call was made, but the Jackets responded as Reed converted a three point play of his own to push the lead back to ten at 52-42.
Down the stretch, the Jackets showed their grit by staying focused after more than a handful of controversial calls were made in the Terrapins’ favor. Tech appeared poised for its usual second-half scoring drought, but amidst the crowd’s boos and protests towards the referees, the Jackets were able to close out the game. Royal showed off his athleticism again with a dribble-drive to the basket for a jam, and Reed later made another three to give the Jackets their largest lead of the night at fifteen. In fact, at the eight minute mark, all was well in Hank McCamish Pavilion as the ceremonial playing of the Budweiser song reverberated throughout the rafters.
The last eight minutes of play consisted of Tech playing conservative, yet solid basketball to maintain the lead and secure the 78-68 win.
Of particular note was the Jackets’ excellent free throw shooting. After a dismal combined 8-19 at the line over the past two games, Tech made 20 of 27 free throws. Miller shot a perfect 12-12 from the stripe, earning himself a spot in the record books. His performance ranks as the third most free throws made without a miss all-time by a Tech player.
Miller also recorded three blocks, which pushed him over the 200 mark for his career. “He’s playing pretty darn good,” said Gregory. “He’s proved himself to be one of the best defenders in this league.”
The Jackets were led in scoring by Carter Jr., Reed, and Miller, who had 19, 17 and 16 points, respectively. Carter Jr. also led the team in rebounds with 10 on the day, giving him a double-double.
Tech will play its last home game of the season this Sunday against North Carolina State at 6 p.m.