Men’s hoops struggles in ACC play, beats UTC

After a three-game losing streak, the Jackets were looking to rebound in their next three games. Unfortunately, the three-game stretch expanded their down period to five losses, with Georgia Tech losing to conference opponents Florida State and Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech finally broke the streak in its last nonconference game of the season against Chattanooga.

Florida State got off to a quick start, sparked early by a three-point shot by Chris Singleton. Sophomore guard Glen Rice Jr. responded with a midrange jumper of his own, but this was the first and only bucket Georgia Tech would see in a 17-2 run early by the Seminoles. Despite excellent offensive rebounding by the Jackets, they could not make a basket, making only one of their initial 13 shots on the day.

However, the drought was ended when sophomore guard Mfon Udofia laid in a tough layup after two offensive rebounds to cut the Jackets’ deficit to 13.

Georgia Tech was not able to cut into the deficit through the first half, shooting 19.4 percent on seven-for-36 shooting. Florida State went into the locker room with a comfortable 12-point lead, up 30-18. The Jackets managed to grab more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds through the first half, grabbing 15 and 11, respectively. Freshman guard Jason Morris was the only Jacket to shoot above 30 percent through the half, making one of his two shots.

The second half began with Florida State shooting as well as they did in the first half. Georgia Tech did not shoot as poorly in the second half with junior point guard Shumpert making six of his first seven shots in the half.

Despite Shumpert surpassing his 1000th career point, the Jackets could never cut into the deficit enough to catch Florida State, hovering behind their competition by double figures most of the game. The game finished with the Seminoles winning by nine, 72-63.

“I thought that we had a legitimate shot in the second half. Even though we were down 12, we had a chance to get back into this and get back into the game. We started off with some pretty good momentum, but we committed some fouls there when we were making our run, holding fouls, bad fouls that we talked about, that got them to the foul line, get some points and keep their margin for the second half,” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.

After the poor shooting day at home, Georgia Tech took a long road trip to Blacksburg, Va. to face off against Virginia Tech. After shutting down Virginia Tech’s offense in the second half of their previous meeting earlier this season, the Jackets could not manage the same defensive success. The Hokies posted up their highest point total of the season, blowing out the Jackets, 102-77.

The game began in the same manner as the Jackets’ previous game, with Virginia Tech jumping out to an early 9-0 lead. After three consecutive baskets, the Jackets cut the lead to three after a steal and dunk by Shumpert with 16:20 left in the first half.

Over the next eight minutes, however, the Hokies scored 33 points and had a 25-point advantage. The Jackets defense allowed 12-of-13 shooting and also fouled several times to let the Hokies get on a roll.

With 7:53 remaining, Hewitt received two consecutive technical fouls and was ejected from the game for the first time in his career at Georgia Tech. The four free throws due to the technicals gave the Hokies their 25-point advantage, and the deficit was too much to overcome.

After Hewitt’s ejection, the Jackets cut the deficit as low as 15 points and at the end of the half went into the locker room down 16 points, with Virginia Tech up 53-37.

The second half began with the Jackets cutting the Hokies lead to 13, but this was the closest the Jackets came to tying the score.

The Hokies led by as much as 30 in the second half, shooting 60 percent from three-point range through the half. The Hokies shot 55.2 percent for the game, with Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney posting up a season high 33 points.

Returning home after the poor defensive performance in Blacksburg, the Jackets were looking to put the loss behind them and begin a win streak. The Jackets were playing their last nonconference season of the game against the Chattanooga Mocs. Georgia Tech would go on to break their recent five-game losing streak, winning 62-53.

The Jackets started off the game quickly, going up 17-8 early, due to some forced turnovers. The Jackets struggled to stop some easy baskets, which allowed the Mocs to make some layups to bring the game close.

Chattanooga came within one possession late in the half, cutting the score to 26-23, but as time expired on the clock, Shumpert hit a quick shot while falling backwards to bring the Jackets lead to five. The half ended with the Jackets up 28-23.

The second half began with a shooting drought for the Jackets. They began the half one-of-eight, with their only basket coming from senior guard Maurice Miller.

In spite of the lack of offense, the Jackets would never lose their lead. The squad had a few close calls, though, including when Chattanooga brought the score within one possession with 9:54 left in the game.

Shumpert made big plays off of rebounds, posting his fifth double-double of the season. He finished the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Rice finished the game almost matching his career and season high with 27 points.

The Jackets pulled away late in the game, winning 62-53 with an exciting fastbreak dunk by Shumpert to finish Chattanooga off.

Tech will head up to Durham, N.C. to face the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, Feb. 20.


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