Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech
Date: Wednesday, February 13
Time: 8 PM
TV: Raycom (Affliate List)
Coming off a two-game losing streak for the first time this season, No. 16/22 Virginia Tech will host Georgia Tech in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night. The Hokies (18-5, 7-4) will be looking to right the ship and hold serve at home, while the Yellow Jackets (11-13, 3-8) are playing for pride at this point in the season.
Offensively, Virginia Tech has been a much different team without Justin Robinson. The Hokies averaged 74.8 points per game in eight ACC games with Robinson running the point, but in three games without him they have averaged only 54 points per game. He averages 14.4 points and a little over five assists per game, so the 20-point drop in production makes sense. Tech has been able to keep playing good defense without Robinson, but nobody has been able to replace his offensive production.
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On Wednesday night, they’ll be facing a Georgia Tech team that is very scrappy on the offensive end, but lacks offensive firepower. It’s very likely that we’ll be in for another low-scoring, ugly affair similar to the last three games. The Hokies beat the Yellow Jackets 52-49 back in January, and that was an ugly game even with Justin Robinson on the court.
Georgia Tech comes into Wednesday’s game having lost five straight, and they haven’t scored more than 63 points since January 12. They’ve failed to score 60 points in their last five games, and they’ve failed to score 50 in two of those losses. Here are their most recent performances…
Notre Dame: 63-61 W
at Duke: 66-53 L
vs. UNC: 77-54 L
at FSU: 59-49 L
vs. Clemson: 65-42 L
at Notre Dame: 69-49 L
Average Score: 61-53 L
The Jackets aren’t just losing…they’re losing ugly.
In the first meeting between these schools, Virginia Tech shot just 29.8% from the field and were just 5-of-27 (18.5%) from three-point range. However, they were still able to win the game because they had only nine turnovers while forcing 18, and they had a 13-3 advantage in offensive rebounding. As a result, the Hokies outscored the Yellow Jackets 7-1 in second chance points and 19-14 in points off turnovers.
Those offensive rebounds and the turnover advantage created more possession for Virginia Tech, and they ended up winning the game by three points. Offensive rebounds, turnovers and extra possessions will again be critical in tonight’s game.
Ten different players have started games for Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner this season. Here’s the starting lineup he used in their most recent game.
G Jose Alvarado (6-0, 176, So.): 11.7 ppg. Alvarado leads the team in assists (75) and steals (43). The assists number is impressive considering the Jackets have no consistent scoring threats.
G Michael Devoe (6-4, 188, Fr.): 9.2 ppg, 39 steals. Devoe is probably Georgia Tech’s most consistent three-point threat at 37.3% on 67 attempts.
G Curtis Haywood II (6-5, 202, So.): 6.5 ppg, 51 assists, 30 steals. Haywood has attempted 101 three-pointers this season, but made just 27.7% of them.
F Abdoulaye Gueye (6-9, 217, r-Sr.): 7.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg. Gueye is Georgia Tech’s most experienced player, and he provided a lot of energy for the Jackets in their first meeting with the Hokies.
C James Banks III (6-9, 243, Jr.): 10.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg. Banks leads the team with 58 blocks and converts his field goals at a 55% clip.
To illustrate how inefficient Georgia Tech has been offensively this year, they have two different players who have attempted more than 100 three-pointers despite shooting below 30%.
Jose Alvarado: 31-of-112 (27.7%)
Curtis Haywood II: 28-of-101 (27.7%)
That said, Alvarado is dangerous when he gets a hot hand. He had 20 points against the Hokies in the first meeting, and he single-handedly carried his team in the first half. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the first 20 minutes while going 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from the outside. However, he cooled off considerably in the second half, missing all four of his field goal attempts.
Georgia Tech has struggled everywhere they’ve played this season, but they have especially struggled on the road. The Yellow Jackets are only 2-6 in road games this season, with a 73-59 victory over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome (try to figure that one out!) as well as a 69-65 victory over a mediocre Arkansas team back in December. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech is 11-1 in Cassell Coliseum, though they did lose their most recent home game 72-64 to Louisville.
A victory would push the Hokies to 19-5 overall and 8-4 in the ACC, meaning they would be just one win away from a fourth-consecutive 20-win season, as well as being one win away from clinching a .500 record in ACC play.