Anyone watching the Tech men over the last two months would hardly find it surprising to learn that the Jackets dropped their home contest against Clemson last Saturday. After all, the team has only managed three conference wins after a breezy jaunt through a legion of mid-majors to start the season. What was more concerning, though, was the margin of defeat: 16 points, the largest Tech has suffered in the ACC this season. In the midst of the embarrassment, more and more has become apparent about Tech men’s basketball in 2016.
Once again, Tech played reasonably well in the first half. They jumped out to a quick eight-point lead that the Tigers reigned in, and while Clemson had gone on an 8-3 run headed into halftime, the game was very much within the Jackets’ grasp entering the second half. There, as has happened all too often this season, the team folded, allowing Clemson to establish a solid lead. After a decent first half from the field (12-27), Gregory’s team was frigid in the second half with an awful 25 percent clip from the field. If Tech wants to compete with conference powerhouses, it simply cannot continue to fade when the game is on the line.
The mark of a quality offense is earning second chances. Even the best shooters are far from automatic, so when a team collects offensive rebounds, it gives the unit more chances to end a possession with points. Offensive rebounds also often lead to closer-range opportunities. Tech had its fair share of offensive rebounds, netting 13, including six in a heavyweight performance from veteran forward Charles Mitchell.
Those opportunities, however, translated into a mere 11 points, a significant blow in determining the outcome of the game. Afterwards, Coach Gregory expressed his frustrations with the team’s inability to finish around the rim.
“[Clemson’s] physicality was the difference in this game, both in the post and on the perimeter,” Gregory said, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com.
Meanwhile, Clemson, which only had one more offensive rebound than the Jackets, converted their boards into 21 second-chance points.
Despite the loss, Tech stalwarts Charles Mitchell and Marcus Georges-Hunt continued to build on successful seasons. Per ramblinwreck.com, Georges-Hunt had his 20th double-digit scoring effort in his last 25 games while Mitchell had his second-straight double-double, good for his 14th this season. Incidentally, Mitchell is 16 points away from scoring 1,000 points in his career.
Junior guard Josh Heath got the starting nod against Clemson but made little of it. In 13 minutes, he missed his only field goal attempt and collected a single rebound, not to mention committing two personal fouls against a Clemson that had no issue getting to the charity stripe on a consistent basis. Despite his typically meager output, more will be expected from him.
A Smooth Transition
Tech losing the turnover battle was far from ideal, particularly in a game in which it was overmatched in other facets. Nevertheless, allowing a mere two fast-break points off seven Tech turnovers was the sort of gritty effort necessary to make headway in this game. It was not enough.