Hokies hope to get a win against Georgia Tech

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Date: Monday, February 9
Time: 9pm
TV: ESPNU

Virginia Tech hosts Georgia Tech in a battle of struggling basketball teams tonight in Cassell Coliseum.

The Yellow Jackets are 11-12 overall, and have a 2-9 record in conference play.  They struggle on the road, going just 1-5 in their six road ACC contests.  They picked up their second ACC win this past Saturday at home against Wake Forest, and they also knocked off Miami 70-50 in Coral Gables earlier this year.

Like the Hokies, Georgia Tech has had some very close losses…

72-66 at Duke
64-62 vs. Boston College
70-65 at Pitt
62-59 vs. Notre Dame
46-45 vs. Syracuse
83-76 (2OT) at Notre Dame

Both of these teams are used to playing their opponent close, but falling at the end.  For the Hokies, it’s due to a lack of post scoring and poor rebounding.  For Georgia Tech, it’s due to a lack of good offensive players.

Georgia Tech doesn’t list a starting lineup in their game notes, but this is the starting five that took the floor in this weekend’s victory over Wake Forest.

G Travis Jorgenson (6-0, 177, r-Fr.): 3.9 ppg, 71 assists.  Jorgenson is not a scorer at all, and shoots just 33.3% from the field.  However, he does a good job of protecting the ball.  He has 71 assists and only 34 turnovers this year.

G Chris Bolden (6-3, 233, Jr.): 6.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg.  Bolden is a part-time starter, but he is a big, strong guard whom the Hokies will have to be tough with on the inside.

F Marcus Georges-Hunt (6-5, 215, Jr.): 13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 33 steals.  Georges-Hunt is Georgia Tech’s best player, and the only player who averages in double figures.  He’s not a big threat from the outside (26.4% from three-point range), but he works well inside and also has 33 steals.

F Robert Sampson (6-8, 224, r-Sr.): 5.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg.  Sampson is a transfer from East Carolina.  He has developed into one of his team’s most efficient rebounders.

C Demarco Cox (6-8, 276, Sr.): 8.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg.  Cox is a wide body on the inside who will give the Hokies a ton of trouble.

Charles Mitchell (6-8, 269, Jr.) is a transfer from Maryland who averages 9.9 points and 7 rebounds per game in just 23 minutes.  He, along with Demarco Cox, Robert Sampson and Quinton Stephens (6-9, 187, So.) give the Yellow Jackets a major advantage on the inside.  As we’ll see later, Georgia Tech is one of the very best rebounding teams in the country, despite their overall record.

One thing the Yellow Jackets struggle with is shooting the ball from the outside.  Here’s a look at their best outside shooters, along with their overall numbers.

Quinton Stephens: 28 of 80, 35%
Chris Boldeon: 28 of 83, 33.7%
Travis Jorgenson: 13 of 39, 33.3%
Marcus Georges-Hunt: 14 of 53, 26.4%
Team: 103 of 366, 28.1%

Georgia Tech ranks #340 (out of 351) in three-point percentage, #324 in three-pointers made per game, and #286 in three-pointers attempted per game.  Compare that with VT’s top shooters, and their numbers as a team…

Adam Smith: 59 of 136, 43.4%
Justin Bibbs: 31 of 70, 44.3%
Ahmed Hill: 23 of 61, 37.7%
Malik Muller: 24 of 69, 34.8%
Team: 169 of 433, 39%

The Hokies are #23 nationally in three-point percentage, #69 in three-pointers made per game and #149 in three-pointers attempted per game.  This is obviously going to be a battle of two very different basketball teams.

Here’s what the efficiency ratings look like…

Offensive efficiency: VT #173, GT #204
Defensive efficiency: VT #202, GT #106
Rebounding rate: VT #331, GT #7
Turnovers per possession: VT #155, GT #160
Opp. Turnovers per possession: VT #109, GT #285

Georgia Tech has been a pretty good defensive team, though the Hokies are better in turnovers, and those two could cancel each other out.  Where the Yellow Jackets have the edge is on the boards.  They are #7 nationally in rebounding rate.

As a comparison, UVA is #3 in rebounding margin, and VT was -12 on the boards against the Hoos.  The Hokies were -27 in rebounding margin against UNC, who ranks #4 in rebounding rate.

On the bright side, VT’s rebounding has been better over the last three games.  If they can manage to be close to even on the boards with Georgia Tech, as well as continue to shoot a high percentage from the outside, they should have an opportunity to get a win.  On the other hand, if they have an off night shooting and the Yellow Jackets dominate the glass, it could also be a blowout favor of the other Tech.

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