On Feb. 3 and 5, the Jackets faced off against the Miami Hurricanes and the Clemson Tigers, respectively. Tech walked away from both games with losses decided by less than 10 points.
Thursday night’s game against the Hurricanes ended 59-57 after junior guard Iman Shumpert was called for charging with only nine seconds left. The Hurricanes would eventually win, hanging on to a two-point lead in the end after committing a season high 28 turnovers in the game.
The game started off close, with both Miami gaining and keeping an early lead. Miami had an early three pointer, and the Jackets would continue to respond through the first seven minutes, cutting the lead down to one score whenever the Hurricanes would score. The close run ended with a quick steal by Shumpert, followed by a fastbreak dunk.
The Hurricanes would respond well, going on an 11-2 run, to put the Jackets in an 11-point hole. An attack led by Shumpert would eventually cut the score to one possession, but the Hurricanes would continue to respond, eventually going into the half with a 10-point lead, 31-21.
The second half started off with the Hurricanes going on a 17-6 run in seven minutes. Tech would fail to capitalize on turnovers and committed three turnovers of their own. They also only made one field goal through the stretch. Falling into a 21-point deficit, the Jackets had to play almost flawlessly to have any chance of keeping it close or even winning.
Through the rest of the game, the Hurricanes would only make two field goals, after the Tech guards stepped up their defense. The Jackets began to rally, cutting the lead down to one point with under a minute left in the game. After a foul by Tech, Miami only made one of their two free throws with 16 seconds left.
Tech, however, would turn the ball over, after a charging foul on Shumpert, and the Hurricanes would hold onto a two point lead, winning 59-57.
“When you have nine games left in the season, you have to make the most of every opportunity. We have nine games left, eight in the league. The plays that we left out there, we wish we could get back, but we are at that point in the year now where we have to define our season.” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.
After returning home from the hard loss, the Jackets opened up to a 17-5 lead against the Clemson Tigers in the first 10 minutes. The entire team started hot when the first five baskets were made by five separate players, including an early three pointer by sophomore guard Mfon Udofia.
Soon however, a 22-0 run from Clemson put them on top. This prepared Clemson to open the second half in lead at 33-25.
The second half showed improvement in field goal percentage for Tech, improving from 34.5 percent to 50 percent between the halves. Tech would struggle from outside the arc however, failing to sink any three-pointers after the break. The Jacket’s lone two three pointers from Udofia in the first half would be their only ones for the game.
Tech’s offense was able to tie the score at 40-40 with 13 minutes left on the clock. This would be the closest Tech came to taking the lead for the rest of the game.
Defensively, Tech was able to prevent any extensive streaks from Clemson in the second half. The Jackets even reduced the Tigers’ overall attempted shots by 30 percent.
Though Clemson did not make a field goal in the last 2:39 of the game Tech’s offense was unable to make the shots needed to capitalize. The final score would be 65-56.
Shumpert led the team in scoring against Clemson with 17 total points. Shumpert also led the team in rebounds with eight overall and six defensively. Sophomore guards Glen Rice Jr. and Udofia both scored in double figures for the Jackets.
Tech’s next game is in Blacksburg, Va., against the Virginia Tech Hokies.