Tech won the final two games of its conference slate, topping Wake Forest on the road and beating Miami at home in the last game in Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tech continued its dominance over Wake Forest this season with a decisive win on the road to sweep the series, 80-54. It was Tech’s only conference road win, and it ensured Tech would not finish in last place in the ACC.
Junior guard Iman Shumpert led all players in scoring, rebounds and steals with 24, eight and six respectively. He only played 23 minutes as the starters were rested when Tech began to pull away in the middle of the second half.
Still, despite the final score, the game started off being a back-and-forth contest between two teams making several errors. In the first half, the squads combined for 13 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of play; Tech had eight turnovers while Wake Forest had five. Tied at 18, the Jackets began to build a lead when they went on a 14-3 run. While the Demon Deacons would narrow the deficit to four near the end of the period, they would never regain the lead.
The Jackets began the second half on an offensive streak and scored 18 points in less than four minutes. They were seven-of-eight from the field, and Shumpert contributed seven points and four assists in that span. After coming out of a timeout with a 20-point lead with sixteen minutes left to play, the Jackets scored just three points in the next seven minutes. Despite the offensive struggles, Wake Forest only managed 10 points in that stretch, and Tech still came out of the struggles with a 15-point lead. The Jackets led by as many as 28 points.
In both wins against Wake Forest this season, the Jackets averaged 77 points while the Demon Deacons averaged just 41.5.
The Jackets followed up that performance by sending out AMC with a win, beating the Hurricanes, 66-57.
Shumpert continued to lead all scorers with 19 points. Four other Tech players were in double figures.
Much like the last game, the first half began with both teams turning the ball over several times. In a little more than five minutes, Tech had already turned the ball over four times. The Jackets had eight total in the first half. This combined with shooting just 42 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc led to 27 first-half points. The Jackets went into the locker room down 34-27. The lead was only cut to single digits after a buzzer beater three by senior guard Lance Storrs.
Tech came out in the second half, and after allowing a three-pointer by Malcolm Grant to open the period, went on a 15-4 run. 11 of the Tech’s 15 points came from freshman guard Jason Morris.
“Usually when we get down like that, I feel as though we collapse mentally and…we lose our focus in those moments. We stayed close as a team, fought back and didn’t lose our heads or composure. I felt as though that was the key,” Morris said.
“[Jason] has been shooting the ball well…. He has been our best three-point shooter all year, and when he’s out there, he spaces the ball well for Iman. Iman has been on a roll the last few weeks, and I think it has coincided with Jason’s performance,” said Head Coach Paul Hewitt.
The Jackets finally took the lead with 10:43 left to play on another three-pointer by Morris. They never relinquished the lead and led by as many as 13. Morris scored all of his points during this span.
“Jason doesn’t want any wasted minutes. He’s always doing something,” Shumpert said.
While Morris contributed much of the offensive output for Tech to regain the lead, he was also part of the defensive effort to minimize scoring inside the paint. While Tech allowed Miami center Reggie Johnson to grab a game-high 11 rebounds, the team only allowed him to shoot two-for-six and forced four turnovers.
“I thought we were scared of [Johnson] the first [time we played]. I watched the tape, and we were real passive; we let him take it to us…. [This game], I thought we were much more aggressive,” Hewitt said.
The defense forced 14 turnovers in the second half while Tech only committed six.
The Miami game was both the last home game for Seniors and the last game ever played in AMC. It will soon be replaced by the McCamish Pavilion.
“I thought the crowd gave us a great lift, especially early in the second half when we needed a little bit of energy. I think they really helped these guys out,” Hewitt said.
The team traveled to the ACC Tournament to play Virginia Tech yesterday. Check nique.net for a recap of the game.