Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson

[Georgia Tech Athletics] Inside The Chart: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson

By Andy Demetra | Voice of the Yellow Jackets

It won’t get them much sympathy – this is the ACC, after all – but it does deserve some recognition.

Entering this week, Georgia Tech (8-11, 1-8 ACC) has played 8 of its 9 ACC games against teams that currently have a winning conference record.

Of the four other teams with a sub-.500 conference record, Tech has only played one combined game against them (Notre Dame).

The Yellow Jackets won’t get any relief from that ruggedness, at least not yet.  Tech has two matchups this week against ranked opponents, beginning with a rematch at Littlejohn Coliseum against league-leading Clemson (16-4, 8-1 ACC).  Since beating the Jackets 79-66 at McCamish Pavilion on December 21, the Tigers have turned into a bona fide threat in the ACC, ripping off their best conference start in 27 years and vaulting into the top 25.

Clemson has also won 14 straight games at Littlejohn Coliseum, though each of its last three meetings with Tech on its home floor has come down to the final shot.

The schedule may be rugged.  But prepare for some drama tonight just in case.

Enjoy the top notes from my chart as the Jackets look for some late-night redemption against the No. 24 Tigers (9 p.m. ET, Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports):

Tech has built significant early leads in five of its eight ACC losses. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

It doesn’t seem right for a team that’s stuck on one conference win.  But Georgia Tech has jumped out to some enviably fast starts of late:

OpponentLeadTime remaining 1st HalfMiami21-1112:01Florida State16-715:48Notre Dame9-217:02N.C. State18-815:05Syracuse21-1012:56

So what can Tech do to buffer those leads for longer?  Josh Pastner believes it boils down to a simple thing.

“What has triggered the runs of the opponent has been a careless turnover, which has led to them getting an opportunity to maybe give them a little life,” Pastner explained on his radio show.  “Or we get a couple open shots, and we’ve been hot, and we start getting cold.”

Tech can ill afford either Tuesday – Clemson leads the ACC in defensive efficiency in conference play (0.95 PPP).  True to form under head coach Brad Brownell, the Tigers will gap up and dig hard on paint touches, with nimble bigs who recover well.  Tech will need to rotate the ball better to the second and third side than they did in their first meeting.  They’ll also need to be strong on their pick-ups and precise on the plus-one passes that Clemson’s digs often create.  Pastner said his team’s transition defense wasn’t up to par in the first meeting; that could be key in warding off any Littlejohn-livening baskets in the open floor.

*****

Clemson still leads the ACC, but the Tigers have had to persevere without starting point guard Chase Hunter (14.9 ppg), who has missed the last two games with a foot injury.  The Atlanta native is Clemson’s chief playmaker, with the surrounding players scoring mostly off actions.

If Hunter can’t play, that could divert more of the scoring load to center P.J. Hall (14.0 ppg), who gouged the Jackets for 25 points in December, and 6-8 Hunter Tyson, who ranks fifth in the nation in double-doubles (15.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg).  Hall can be a maestro in the high post with his ability to shoot and facilitate, while Tyson may be the trickiest inside-outside cover in the ACC.  Not only does he shoot 41 percent from three, he cuts hard for post-ups and has a feathery touch in the paint.  He’s also come a long way from getting posterized by James Banks at McCamish Pavilion as a sophomore.

Will the Tigers make a more concerted effort to pound it into the post, especially if Hunter is limited?  Among the areas where Pastner wants to see improvement from the first meeting: better slides in the halfcourt and sharper transition defense.  Also worth monitoring:  Clemson’s two worst turnover rates of the season have come in the games Hunter has missed.

*****

The additional COVID year has ushered in a whole generation of college basketball graybeards who have warped our sense of time.

Case in point:  Clemson guard Brevin Galloway turned 25 years old in December, making him one of just nine players in Division I who’s at least 25.

He’s seven days older than the Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox, who’s currently in his sixth NBA season.

With Hunter potentially out, Galloway could be even more uninhibited as he ranges around for deep threes.  He’ll also try to shake off an ACC-low 3 points against Virginia Tech.

A lingering groin injury limited Ja’von Franklin’s effectiveness in Tech’s first meeting with Clemson. (photo by Danny Karnik)

 

Some players sheepishly downplay their time in junior college.

Not Ja’Von Franklin, who spent two years at Holmes Community College in Mississippi before beginning his three-school odyssey in Division I.  The genial forward from Little Rock, Ark., broke his right leg two minutes into the first game of his sophomore season at Holmes; though he was committed to Memphis at the time, he feared the injury would derail his scholarship looks.

His concerns turned out to be unfounded – Franklin eventually signed with Auburn, where he spent two seasons.  After he rehabbed and returned to the court, Franklin decided to pay tribute to his perseverance by getting “JuCo Product” and “Only The Strong Survive” tattooed on the same leg he had broken.

A lingering groin injury limited Franklin’s effectiveness in the first meeting with Clemson.  Against a team that leads the ACC in two-point field goal percentage defense in conference play (42.4%), Franklin and his frontcourt mates will need to be opportunistic on their finishes around the rim.  They’ll also grapple with one of the nation’s best defensive rebounders in Tyson.  There aren’t many connective threads in Clemson’s four losses, but Loyola (Ill.) and Wake Forest both beat them by forcing fouls and getting offensive rebounds.

*****

Sorry Stewart Cink, but you have company.

Seven years after the former Yellow Jacket sank a baseline-to-baseline putt during a halftime promotion at McCamish Pavilion, a Clemson student holed a 94-footer to win $10,000 at Littlejohn Coliseum last week.

*****

Now that we’re prepared, we hope you are as well.  Join us for pregame coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. ET on the Georgia Tech Sports Network from Legends Sports.  See you in Clemson.

-AD-

 

Alexander-Tharpe Fund

The Alexander-Tharpe Fund is the fundraising arm of Georgia Tech athletics, providing scholarship, operations and facilities support for Georgia Tech’s 400-plus student-athletes. Be a part of developing Georgia Tech’s Everyday Champions and helping the Yellow Jackets compete for championships at the highest levels of college athletics by supporting the Annual Athletic Scholarship Fund, which directly provides scholarships for Georgia Tech student-athletes. To learn more about supporting the Yellow Jackets, visit atfund.org.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team has completed six seasons under head coach Josh Pastner, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2021 and making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.