Reviewing Georgia Tech's 71-69 loss to N.C. State Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion. The "5 observations" story is here , post-game quotes here , game story here , Mark Bradley's assessment of Tech's tournament chances here .
As might be expected for a game decided by two points, the first two categories are pretty similar. A few things to note – N.C. State’s effective field-goal percentage was on the high side for the Jackets. It was 46.2 percent going into the game in ACC games. Further, N.C. State's offensive rebounding percentage was well above the average for Tech's ACC opponents, 30.6 percent. The Wolfpack scored 14 second-chance points to Tech's five.
Particularly including the late surge, Tech’s offensive numbers were enough to win, but the free-throw rate (a little above its ACC average of was 35.3 percent) was compromised by the Jackets making just 13 of 22 from the line.
*Four factors follows the idea that the four statistics that most lead to success are effective field-goal percentage (which weights 3-point baskets proportionately), turnover percentage, offensive rebounding percentage and free throws per field-goal attempts.
I think Georgia Tech’s chances of winning were considerably impinged by playing two days after its last game. It’s not a complaint; it’s the reality of the schedule and the price that ACC teams for the conference’s lucrative contract with ESPN. Of the 15 teams in the league, 13 have at least one game scheduled two days after the last. Tech has one more next week, playing Syracuse this Sunday and then Pitt next Tuesday.
It looked a lot like the Yellow Jackets lacked their typical burst and effort. Through the first half, N.C. State had nine offensive rebounds and Tech had 10 defensive rebounds, a 45 percent offensive rebounding percentage. For the sake of context, a 33 percent offensive rebounding rate is outstanding. It evened out in the second half – N.C. State’s final percentage was 38 percent – but it happened repeatedly that the Wolfpack got their hands on balls that just eluded Tech players.
“It was kind of like, we might be in somewhat the right position, but we didn’t do the right job,” center Ben Lammers said. “We didn’t block out the guy first, so there’s still a bunch of people running in, so even though we might have touched it, we weren’t able to get the possession.”
Lammers was 1-for-9 from the field and 4-for-8 from the line. Coming into the game, he was shooting 53 percent from the field and 76 percent from the line. Asked how he felt physically, Lammers replied, “Not amazing.”
Because coach Josh Pastner isn’t fully confident in backup post player Sylvester Ogbnoda, he has ridden Lammers to an absurd degree. Going 40 minutes against Syracuse with forward Quinton Stephens, both players became the first Tech players to play every minute of a game three times in a season since Matt Harpring in the 1996-97 season. Abdoulaye Gueye wasn’t playing a lot when he fractured his wrist, but Pastner was gaining confidence in him and his availability to play even three or four minutes to give Lammers a break would make a difference.
“Maybe I should take Ben out and give him a little rest here and there,” Pastner said. “But you’re hanging by a thread – literally by a thread – so we’re going to ride Ben to the end.”
Stat of the game
Tech scored 48 points in the first 37 minutes of the game and 21 In the final three. A furious comeback fell one shot short. The Jackets forced five turnovers – including a flagrant foul that gave them an extra possession – and hit three tough 3-pointers.
Quote of the game
“Ben struggled a little bit today, but I don’t think that’s the reason why we lost, or people not scoring. I just don’t think we did what we could defensively.” – Josh Okogie
Josh Heath again was in control for Tech. He had six assists with five points but had only one rebound. In the past four games, he is averaging 27 assists against 10 turnovers.
Stephens contributed 11 points with 10 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season. He’s going to be a difficult player to replace next season. There really isn’t anyone on the roster that is ready to step in and do what he does from a production and leadership standpoint.
Okogie played with a lot of will, refusing to let the Jackets go quietly. He was relentless is going to the basket for scores, finishing with 25 on 11-for-17 shooting. Guard Tadric Jackson got hot late, scoring nine of his 17 in the final 2:13.
From my iPhone
I forgot to take a picture at the game, but this is one I took on Monday of the plaque that graduate transfer forward Kellen McCormick will receive on senior day next Tuesday at the final home game against Pitt. I was at the Zelnak Center for interviews when someone brought in the six plaques that seniors will receive. It was a stirring moment.
On a personal note
You can blame this loss on me. Before games, news media members get a $10 voucher to use at the concession stands. I pretty much always get a hot dog or sausage and popcorn, but I got a hot dog and Skittles last night. I really wanted Skittles – it felt like it was too late to be eating popcorn (not sure why it wasn't too late to eat a hot dog or sugar) – and I guess the Jackets paid the price.