The men’s team struggled during the winter break, finishing the month of December with a 4-3 record. They opened 2008 with two consecutive losses.
While cruising to victory in games against Centenary, Tenn. Tech and Presbyterian, the team struggled against the rest of its opponents.
They started off the month with a blowout loss against Vanderbilt on the road, dropping the game 92-79. They then returned to Atlanta to face cross town rivals Georgia State, escaping the GSU Sports Arena with a 72-67 victory.
Tech played slow in the first half, allowing the Panthers to tie the game at the half. Tech played even slower to start the second half and allowed State to build an eight point lead. The Panthers led for the next nine minutes of the game before Lewis Clinch scored a three pointer to tie the game and later hit the go-ahead basket from the foul line to give Tech a lead they never relinquished.
Clinch led all scorers with 22 points and Zack Peacock had 17 points and four rebounds off the bench. Leonard Mendez led State scorers with 20 points.
Tech next played Kansas, losing a close game at the AMC, 71-66. Kansas was one of the few unbeatens left in the country when they arrived ath the Coliseum.
The game saw Tech hang with the Jayhawks until the very end, even mounting a small comeback that gave the Jackets the opportunity to tie the game in its final seconds. Unfortunately, a botched pass led to a turnover that sealed the victory for Kansas.
“Defensively, they did a great job. They’re big guys contested us pretty well. Down the stretch, [we] just didn’t execute,” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.
“That’s the thing about basketball. The last play is never the play that costs you the game. There were plenty of plays down the stretch, missed boxed outs, turnovers early in the game, you can’t just look at that last play and say ‘we lost the game because of that last play.’ We have to stand behind our team mates because I think we really made strides tonight,” Clinch said.
Tech was playing in front of its home crowd for the first time since the season opener.
Later in the month, Tech opened up their ACC conference schedule with a game against Florida State. Like the Kansas game, Tech was able to hang on until the last play and lost another close one, 66-64.
“[It’s] disappointing that we had a four point lead with 2:43 to go and just couldn’t close the game out. I think we’re getting better, we’re getting closer, but as I told the guys in the locker room, time’s running out for this team to play consistent basketball,” Hewitt said.
The team had built an early lead and seemed on their way to a blowout. Still, the Seminoles were able to build a lead in the second half that the Jackets would not be able to overcome.
The final play had Zack Peacock attempting a shot that was not originally planned, but had to be done with almost no time left on the clock. The miscommunication was just another unfortunate play that happened at the end of another close game at the Coliseum.
After traveling to Georgia for one of their last nonconference games of the year, the team went on to Miami for their first ACC road game.
Tech played with enough energy to build a 12-point lead in Coral Gables midway through the first half, but ultimately fell to the Hurricanes of Miami. Miami used a suffocating defense and forced turnovers to limit the Jackets to just 15 points over the last 10 minutes of the first half and used that time to build a two-point lead going into halftime. Miami never looked back after that and the Hurricanes even built a double-digit lead that they kept through the last ten minutes of the second half.
The loss dropped the team to 0-2 in conference play.