Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Men’s Basketball Loses Attack, Falls to Georgia Tech

In the first half of Saturday night’s game, Georgia Tech had a clear game plan against Boston College men’s basketball: Feed it inside. The Eagles were still without 6-foot-11 center Nik Popovic, and the Yellow Jackets had a formidable duo down low of James Banks III and Moses Wright to attack the paint.

Georgia Tech built an eight-point halftime edge despite not hitting a single 3-pointer, racking up 24 points in the paint. Then, on the back of a stifling zone defense that frustrated BC—playing without starting point guard Derryck Thornton—the Yellow Jackets started to hit from distance after the intermission and quickly pulled away for a comfortable 71-52 victory.

The Eagles (9-7, 3-2 Atlantic Coast) entered fresh off a season-defining upset against No. 18 Virginia but struggled mightily to find any offensive success against Georgia Tech (8-8, 3-3). The Yellow Jackets went through slow stretches of their own, but a strong defense and an unrelenting push into the paint was more than enough for a 19-point victory.

Wright had an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double while Banks III ran into foul trouble late but still had 13 points and five boards. Jordan Usher added 13 points, eight in the first half, and also had six boards as a part of a plus-six rebounding edge for Georgia Tech.

BC, meanwhile, trotted out a starting lineup featuring three freshmen and shot just 29.8 percent from the field. Steffon Mitchell had a strong game, chipping in 10 points on eight shots with 11 rebounds, but the rest of the rotation struggled to hit. CJ Felder had 13 points but needed 12 shots, while Jay Heath went 2-of-10 and Jairus Hamilton went 3-of-10 off the bench after being held out of the starting lineup due to an eye injury.

It was an especially frustrating loss for Jim Christian’s side as it couldn’t follow up on the seven-point upset of the Cavaliers. The Eagles were overmatched inside and couldn’t crack Georgia Tech’s zone, and it resulted in a blowout defeat. The Eagles turned the ball over 15 times to the Yellow Jackets’ 18 but were handled inside to the tune of a 42-18 edge in points in the paint.

The teams traded blows through the first nine minutes as neither team found much offensive success. Wright scored Georgia Tech’s first four points, and Usher had consecutive layups, but Heath had a five-point stretch to give BC its only lead of the game. Georgia Tech promptly responded with a 10-0, with Usher and Wright combining for eight points. Felder turned in a strong sequence with a pair of free throws, a jumper, and a fast-break layup, but three points was as close as the Eagles would get. 

Georgia Tech went to Banks III over and over in the closing minutes, and he made the most of the chances. The 6-foot-10 center who entered ranked second in the ACC in blocks imposed his will inside, scoring the final eight points of the half and punctuating it with an alley-oop dunk from Jose Alvarado.

The second half quickly got away from BC, too. Georgia Tech hit four 3-pointers after the break, and for a team already overmatching its opponent inside, it quickly created a blowout. Gabe Devoe sunk a trey right out of the break, and Alvarado went on to hit two and finish with nine points, eight assists, and five rebounds. The Yellow Jackets stretched the lead to double digits just under four minutes into the second half and never looked back.

During Christian’s tenure, this kind of loss has become familiar to Eagles fans. BC has often turned in an impressive performance against a ranked opponent—win or lose—and then failed to find that same consistency later in the year. The Eagles were short on depth, managing just nine bench points, and couldn’t break out in transition with just four fastbreak points. BC might’ve initially looked past Georgia Tech, but instead it’s back to the drawing board.

Featured Image Courtesy of AP Photo

January 12, 2020