Tech men’s basketball team is off to a relatively slow start to the season holding an 8–10 record overall and a 1–7 record in conference, but currently holds an impressive 7–4 home record at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech’s most impressive wins so far have been against Georgia and then-No. 12 ranked Miami. The Jackets’ start of the season under Coach Josh Pastner has not been ideal, and Tech currently sits 14th in the ACC, only ahead of the woeful Louisville Cardinals.
The team is being led by sophomore sensation Miles Kelly. Kelly has been the teams most reliable player this season, racking up the most minutes this season averaging 30.3 minutes per game so far. On top of Kelly being the Jacket’s most reliable player, he is also the team’s biggest scoring threat, averaging 13.9 points per game, while shooting just over 40 percent from the three point line. Kelly has not only been Tech’s most consistent player, but he has played the best when the lights are the brightest. In the games against Virginia and Miami, Kelly has had monster games putting up back-to-back 20 point games on good efficiency from three. Kelly has been a metronome for the Jackets, but some players have been picking up some of the slack as of recently.
Alongside Kelly, junior guard Deivon Smith has been a key contributor for the Jackets. Smith began the season starting, but after some low key performances, his services started to be used off of the bench, which as of recently has helped him become one of Tech’s most important players. Most recently against Notre Dame and Pitt, Smith has exploded with 16 and 15 points respectively through very good efficiency from the field.
Tech may not have won those games, but Smith was one of the reasons that Tech pushed Notre Dame to overtime.
On top of being one of the Jackets leading scorers, Smith has stepped up as a playmaker recently, leading the team in assists and averaging 3.47 per game for the season.
Smith also gets physical in the paint, tying for the most rebounds on the team and averaging 5.8 per game.
Helping Kelly and Smith, senior forward Ja’von Franklin has been the team’s rock in the paint, averaging the most rebounds and blocks on the team. Franklin averages 5.8 rebounds per game and 1.6 blocks per game.
The most impressive part of Franklin’s game is his ability to get offensive rebounds, averaging just over 2.5 per game. His 41 offensive rebounds is the eighth most in the ACC, despite playing less games than the other players in the top 10 as well as having the sixth best offensive rebound percentage.
Franklin’s block counting stats are very impressive, but the 7.4 block percentage is even better for fourth in the ACC.
With some impressive wins under their belt, the Jackets are as ready as they can be to take on the toughest part of their schedule, with eight ACC games in a row, the toughest of which being against a very strong NC State Wolfpack, who are on a three-game winning streak and just off the back of beating the now No. 17 ranked Miami.
The Jackets and Pastner are looking to convert some of their good performances into wins and the upcoming games are a perfect opportunity to send a message to the rest of the ACC.
If you are looking to support your Jackets, the next game is Jan. 21 at noon in McCamish against the 12–7 Syracuse Orange, who are currently eighth in the ACC. The game can also be streamed on Bally Sports or ESPN depending on your location.