A look back at Georgia Tech's 65-54 win over Boston College Saturday at McCamish Pavilion. Game story here , "5 things" story (myajc) here , post-game quotes here , photo gallery here and Steve Hummer's blog from the game (myajc) here .
Boston College’s effective field-goal percentage was the second lowest for a Georgia Tech ACC opponent year; only FSU was lower (32.4 percent). The Eagles’ ACC average going into the game was 53.4 percent. That’s doing a number. The Yellow Jackets again defensed the 3-point arc well; Boston College made four of 18 3-point attempts (22.2 percent).
Tech’s 43.2 percent was a little below its season average and overall nothing special. Starting out 2-for-24 will tend to suppress field-goal percentage.
Tech’s offensive rebounding percentage was its second lowest in ACC play, better only than its 7.4 percent against Virginia. Part of that is probably attributable to forward Quinton Stephens’ absence. He’s been good for 1.5 per game this season.
*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.
Maybe the most eye-catching number from Georgia Tech’s win over Boston College was the 50-point second half, particularly after the Yellow Jackets scored 15 in the first. It was their lowest-scoring half of the season followed by the second highest scoring half of the season (bettered only by the 58-point first half against Division II Tusculum this past Tuesday).
What deserves mention is that Boston College shot 32.8 percent from the field, the Eagles’ lowest rate of the season. Boston College is about like what was predicted – the Eagles were pegged to finish 15th in the ACC in a preseason conference media poll, and they fell to 2-11 with Saturday’s loss – but they can score. They came into the game averaging 73.5 points per game and 46 percent shooting from the field against ACC opponents and put up 54 points and, again, 32.8 percent shooting.
Boston College was off its game in the first half, as was Tech, but the second half was not a lot better for the Eagles. They still only shot 40.6 percent from the field and were 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
“Defense always travels, and so when you have an off night offensively, the one thing you can be good at it’s defensively,” coach Josh Pastner said. “We were not good the first half offensively, but we were good defensively, and that kept us at least in striking defense.”
Tech’s zone seemed to give Boston College issues. There weren’t a lot of clear looks, and the ones that Boston College had, they missed. Also, center Ben Lammers played superb help defense. Several times, when teammates were beat going to the basket, and even if he didn’t block the shot, he challenged it enough to force misses. On top of that, Tech rebounded well to limit second-chance points.
Boston College was not a very good offensive rebounding team to begin with – the Eagles came into the game winning only 25.1 percent of all available rebounds on offense – and did even worse against Tech, 16.3 percent. Guard Josh Okogie was not at his best offensively – 3-for-11 from the field – but went fiercely at the glass and had 12 rebounds, all defensive. Guard Justin Moore added eight, a career high.
It is no stretch at all to say that Tech is one of the best defenses in the country. After Saturday, Tech is ranked No. 9 by KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. They’re 22nd in effective field-goal percentage defense at 45.7 percent.
Stat of the game
Despite what I wrote about the defense carrying the game, which I would contend is true, the turnaround on offense was truly remarkable. The Jackets made two of their first 24 field-goal attempts, and very much looked like a 2-for-24 team, and then finished the game making 22 of their last 35.
Runner-up stat of the game: Tech started the second half with a five of guards Josh Heath Tadric Jackson, Justin Moore and Josh Okogie and center Ben Lammers, and didn’t make a substitution until the final minute, when the game was well in hand. It was an indication of Tech’s lack of depth, the team’s conditioning and a nice piece of coaching by Pastner to not make moves for the sake of making moves.
“You know me well enough now that it’s hard for me to play 10 or 11 guys,” he said. “I say just go with it. If I feel a group is going well, I’m going to go with that group. It just kind of is what it is. That’s kind of what prompted me to kind of go with it. That group was playing well.”
Quote of the game
“It starts off with Coach (Pastner). He didn’t get on us as hard about missing (shots). He even said he hadn’t seen anything like that before. Sometimes that just happens. I knew we have great guys and we feed off each other’s energy and we’re always positive.” – Okogie on the first half
Jackson came through with a big offensive game, a career-high 29 points on 12-for-21 shooting. In the first half, when everyone was cold, Jackson was unafraid to shoot, as is his wont. His ability to help ride Tech through the first half with nine points helped the Jackets stay somewhat close. He followed through with 20 in the second half for a 29-point total that was the highest of his career. As a junior, he has re-set his career scoring high four times, from 20 against Southern to 24 against VCU to 25 against Notre Dame to 29 against Boston College.
Okogie picked up the second double-double game of his career with 12 points to go with 12 rebounds. It speaks a little bit to Okogie’s focus that he kept going to the glass despite his scoring difficulties. It’s not every freshman that would stay in the game that way.
Heath was a little wobbly at times – he had an uncharacteristic four turnovers – but he finished with seven assists and five points. Lammers also was loose with the ball (five turnovers, tying his career five) but had 17 rebounds (also a career high) with 14 points, four assists and three blocks.
Moore hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer that gave Tech the lead at 34-32 at the 12:28 mark of the second half. It capped Tech’s comeback; the Jackets never trailed again.
From my iPhone
Tech great Matt Harpring was on hand to sign autographs before the game, including on the 1,000 bobblehead dolls that were given away at the game. He was also honored during a timeout in the first half. Harpring and wife Amanda live in the Atlanta area with their five children (11 through 18 months), although he is the color commentator for the Utah Jazz.
Two facts gleaned from a brief interview. One, he said his kids know nothing about their father’s basketball exploits, he said.
“I kind of kept it that way when they were growing up,” he said. “I tried not to talk too much about that kind of stuff. I want to be Dad.”
Second, he approved of how the bobblehead doll turned out. He was shown an early model in the summer, and then another painted model.
“I was like, yeah, it looks good,” he said. “That was it.”
On a personal note
I was glad to greet former AJC sports writer Jack Wilkinson after the game in the media room. Jack is a lot of things, including a gifted writer and a fantastic story teller. Longtime readers of the AJC likely know that he wrote dozens of stories about Tech football and basketball with color, perspective and humor. It was a huge loss when he left the paper. I think what I will always appreciate about Jack, though, is that he welcomed me when I came to the AJC as a lowly high school reporter and treated me like an equal, though I was nothing of the sort. I’ll always be grateful and appreciative for that.