Jackets hit worst stretch since 08-09

Coming off of a 1-8 stretch over their last nine games, the Jackets were looking to turn things around during a two game road stretch against the No. 7 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels and the No. 21 ranked Florida State Seminoles. However, the Jackets were unable to put a win in the record books, falling 93-81 to the Tar Heels on Sunday, Jan. 29, before dropping another contest 68-54 to the Seminoles on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Tech fell to 1-10 over their last 11 games, the worst losing stretch since the 2008-09 season.

The Jackets had their worst defensive performance of the season, allowing the Tar Heels to shoot over 54 percent for the game while giving up 15 turnovers. Junior guard Glen Rice Jr., the team’s leading scorer, struggled through the game, hitting two of his seven shot attempts and only four points through the contest. Rice finished the game missing both of his three-point attempts.

North Carolina started the game off quickly, shooting 60 percent in the first half and knocking down 18 shots for 52 first half points.

Within the first 20 seconds of the game, North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall hit an open three-point shot, which prompted an 11-4 start through the first three minutes of the game. The Jackets tried to respond with a quick three-point score by junior guard Mfon Udofia, but the Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run to take an 11 point, 18-7 lead.

Despite the Tar Heels having early-season woes from behind the arc earlier in the season, they hit five three-point shots through the first ten minutes of play, blowing open a 30-18 lead. The Jackets never closed the margin to under 11 points in the first half, eventually going into the locker room down 52-32.

North Carolina finished the first half, hitting eight of their 12 three-point attempts, a season high.

Coming out to kick off the second half of the game, the Tar Heels continued with a strong shooting performance, only allowing the Jackets to come within 15 points through the first ten minutes of the period. After going up 84-63 on an electrifying dunk by North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, the Tar Heels coasted through the rest of the game for an easy 93-81 win.

Despite the loss, the 81 points scored by the Jackets was the third highest scoring total of the season.

Udofia led the Jackets in the scoring through the game with 16 points on 14 shot attempts, and sophomore guard Jason Morris was the only other Tech player in double figures with 15 points. Freshman forward Julian Royal continued his streak of strong play in ACC contests posting nine points and six rebounds.

The Jackets then travelled to Tallahassee, Fl., to face the Seminoles in what proved to be an early defensive battle. The two teams combined to shoot 15 of their 43 shot attempts in the first half, while only scoring a combined 49 points.

Rice, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, missed the game with a foot injury, adding to the Jackets’ woes. Without Rice, the team managed to come out on top in the first half with a 25-24 advantage. However, Tech’s defensive efforts were not as strong in the second half,  as the Jackets allowed Florida State to shoot over 61 percent and hit six of their 10 three-point attempts to close out the 68-54 loss.

The Seminoles started off the game quickly, kicking things off with a 14-5 run through the first seven minutes of the game. A jumper by sophomore center Daniel Miller with 11:24 left in the half lit a spark for the Jackets and begun an 18-8 run that gave the Jackets a 23-22 lead with just over three minutes left in the first period.

The Jackets hit five of their eight shot attempts on the run, while adding seven points from the foul line.

Two more free throws by Udofia gave the Jackets a narrow 25-24 lead going into the locker room.

To start the second half, Florida State retook control of the game. With 18:34 left, Florida State’s Luke Loucks hit a jumper to put the Seminoles up 28-27, and the Jackets would never take the lead through the rest of the game. Tech struggled from the perimeter, allowing Florida State guard Michael Snaer to hit open three-point attempts throughout the half.

Snaer scored 16 of his gam-high 21 points in the second half on five of seven shooting from the field.

Sophomore guard Brandon Reed scored a team and season-high 18 points in the contest, hitting 50 percent of his shots through the game. Sophomore center Daniel Miller was the only other Jacket to finish in double figures. However, the Jackets allowed three Florida State players to hit double figures in the game with each shooting over 70 percent.

With the win, Florida State is tied at first place with North Carolina in the ACC with a 6-1 conference record.

After posting the two losses, the Jackets fell to a league-worst 1-7 ACC record. The Jackets will look to turn their season around on Saturday, Feb. 4, at home against the Eagles of Boston College before hosting the N.C. State Wolfpack on Thursday, Feb. 9.