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A second look at Georgia Tech’s loss to Wake Forest


A closer inspection of how Georgia Tech lost to Wake Forest Wednesday night. For the “5 observations” story, please read here.

1. With just under seven minutes to play in the first half of Georgia Tech’s 79-62 loss to Wake Forest Wednesday night, the Yellow Jackets had the ball with the chance to take the lead and maybe build some momentum going into the half. 

About three minutes later, the Jackets were down 10 and on their way to their eighth loss in the past nine games. What happened is a bit of a microcosm of how Tech has gotten to where it is, at 11-15 and sinking. 

Tech possession 1: The Jackets use pretty much the entire shot clock trying to get an open shot and guard Josh Okogie rushes a 3-pointer with a hand in his face to beat the clock. It doesn’t help that a) point guard Jose Alvarado is not playing, out for the season, and unable to facilitate; b) center Ben Lammers, through whom the offense often runs, was trying to catch a short rest. 

Wake Forest possession 1: After Okogie’s miss, Tech fails to slow down the ball coming and guard Bryan Crawford finds Keyshawn Woods on the wing. Tech’s defense has yet to set, and Woods takes advantage by driving straight at Brandon Alston, who fouls Woods but can’t prevent him from scoring. Woods makes the free throw for a three-point play. 29-26. Lammers comes back in. 

Tech possession 2: Lammers and guard Tadric Jackson can’t execute a handoff at the elbow and the ball goes out of bounds, one of 14 turnovers the Jackets commit. Since beating Syracuse Date, Tech has turned the ball over 57 times compared to its opposition’s 39 times in four games, all losses. 

Wake Forest possession 2: With the shot clock running down, point guard Mitchell Wilbekin splits a double team to get into the lane, where Okogie fouls on help defense. Giving up drives to the basket has been a weakness most of the season. With an extended possession, Woods hits a jumper off the inbounds pass. 31-26. 

Tech possession 3: Lammers misses a fadeaway jumper and forward Abdoulaye Gueye is called for a foul on the rebound. It isn’t a great shot selection by Lammers, and Gueye has had challenges staying out of foul trouble. He plays 27 minutes, and when he leaves the game with 12:29 in the second half with his fourth foul, the Wake lead goes from 11 to 18.

Wake Forest possession 3: Lammers fouls center Doral Moore, who misses the front end of a one and one. 

Tech possession 4: In transition, forward Evan Cole misses a wide-open 3-pointer in transition. A made 3-pointer slows the run, cuts the lead to 31-29 and gives the Jackets a chance to set up their defense. It’s not a bad shot, but it misses, like 68 percent of Tech’s 3-point tries miss. The Jackets are 310th in Division I in 3-point shooting percentage. 

Wake Forest possession 4: Two Tech players go to the basket going for the offensive rebound but don’t come up with it. The 7-foot-1 Moore has a head start and races up the floor. Cole is unable to slow down Crawford as he dribbles upfloor, and he lobs an alley-oop to Moore, defended by the 6-2 Jackson, for a crowd-pleasing alley oop. 33-26.

Tech possession 5: Off a screen, Okogie has an open 3-point try but misses. It’s maybe a little earlier in the shot clock than you’d like, but it’s a shot Okogie, a 41-percent 3-point shooter, makes. But it misses, part of a tough shooting night for Okogie. He is 5-for-13 from the field, 0-for-4 from 3 but still gets 20 thanks to a 10-for-11 night from the line). It underscores the challenge Tech has with only Okogie scoring consistently this season, particularly now with Alvarado out. 

Wake Forest possession 5: The Demon Deacons execute a deft possession. In transition, Tech again can’t slow the ball down as it comes upcourt, and Woods pump fakes from the corner. In a desperate effort to challenge, Okogie flies by and is taken out of the play. Woods passes out of the corner to Crawford on the wing and the ball continues to rotate to Wilbekin, who is wide open for a 3.

Wilbekin, a 44 percent shooter from 3-point range coming into the game, knocks it down. It’s now 36-26, the first double-digit lead that Wake Forest has had on an opponent in ACC play through 14 games. Wake Forest coach Danny Manning praises his team later for its unselfishness and its “hockey assists” – “somebody gets a pass and has a shot and gives it up to somebody else for a better shot.” 

It’s the sort of play that Tech hasn’t had much of, as evidenced its 54 percent rate on assists per made field goal. The Jackets were at 62 percent last season.

In summary

In this sequence, Tech misses all three 3-point tries and turns the ball over twice, while Wake Forest makes its two attempts and doesn’t turn the ball over. 

“It was like shooting practice for them,” Pastner said of Okogie and Cole’s 3-point tries. “No one was around, they had their feet set, took their time. It just didn’t go in.”

For the game, Tech was 1-for-9 from 3-point range with 14 turnovers while Wake Forest was 9-for-17 from beyond the arc with five turnovers. Tech opponents have now shot 47 percent from 3-point range in the past six games. 

Poor 3-point defense (and offense) and turnovers aren’t the only things that have gone wrong this season, but they’re a big part. 

2. This game, and Tech in general, is a good example of why the statistic of field-goal percentage, is somewhat limited. The Jackets actually outshot Wake Forest – 51.2 percent to 49.2 percent – although Wake Forest took 16 more shots. However, as noted above, Wake Forest was 9-for-17 from 3-point range and Tech was 1-for-9. 

By effective field-goal percentage, which weights 3-pointers proportionately, Wake was 56.8 percent and Tech was 52.3 percent.


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About the Author

Ken Sugiura covers Georgia Tech sports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.