What could be better than playing 5 games in a row at home to start the new era of basketball under your direction and leadership? Sounds too good to be true, it’s not for Josh Pastner. It appears the stars lined up properly. However tonight the third time was not the charm, instead, a teaching moment on how to win going down the stretch by the more experienced Ohio Team that stuck together trusted each other and played with in their character to take the win 67-61 as the Yellow Jackets made every push to pull out the victory. It wasn’t due to lack of effort which is a good thing for any coach to see they just played a more talented and experienced team.
Georgia Techs’ victories against Tennessee Tech 70-55 of the Ohio Valley Conference and Southern University 76-62 of the SWAC were tune up games for a Division 1 ACC team. Arguably this was their first real test of the season against Ohio University of the MAC Mid-American Conference a more formidable foe. Offensively they were one of the best in the nation in 2015-16 they were ranked 50th in the nation with 78.5 points per game and they had the second best three point field goal percentage hitting 296 on 767 attempts. Currently, they rank 10th in the nation 48.9 percent (36-of-55) in three point field goal percentage, 13th with 11.5 field goals per game and averaging 86.5 points per game. On Monday they drilled 15 three pointers against Sam Houston State and are smoking hot gun slingers. The Bobcats received two votes by the Associated Press top-25 poll.
Both teams entered the game 2-0 and both teams have played their first two games at home Ohio also defeated Southern 77-67 and Sam Houston State 96-75 they are in the third year with coach Sau Phillips and returning four starters from a team that won 23 games last year. Those are nice toys for a coach to play with on this the 16th annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive day. Experience, chemistry, and knowledge of the system are attractive ingredients that complement the wrapping paper making a great gift for the coach. Tonight that was the difference in the game. These are shiny gifts The Reigning MAC Player of the Year senior forward Antonio Campbell, who scored 598 points hauled in 358 rebounds, and 63 block shots. He was recently named to the Lute Olson Watch list. An award given to the nation’s top Division 1 player who has played at least two seasons, he has earned Associated Press Honorable Mention as an All-American and the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I First Team All-District 14 pick.
All-MAC Freshman Phenom Dartis burst onto the scene with 17 double-doubles and setting the best three-point field goal percentage in a single season for the school going 67-140 for 47.9 percent.
Pastner has to be looking forward to those days.
The teams have history Ohio was Techs first ever opponent in a NCAA Tournament way back when (March 11, 1960).
Tech didn’t win the opening tap as they did in their first two games, if you are superstitious, that could have been the reason they didn’t win this one. They started the game in their usual man to man and stuck with it for most of the game out of respect for those deadly three point shooters.
It worked according to their head coach Saul Phillips. “Listen, they disrupted us. We’re much better offensively than we showed tonight but that had everything to do with them and their length … We had 15 threes in the last game [and] they did as good a job as anybody of getting appropriate help to [Antonio] Campbell on the screen-and-roll and yet still covering the shooters in the corners.
Ben Lammers started the game aggressive scoring 7 points before he exited the game for a rest at the 13:41 mark. He held his own scoring 22 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, playing against Mr. MAC, Antonio Campbell who led all scorers in the game with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Mr. Clutch was the fifth year senior Kenny Kaminski who hit five three point baskets in the second half that proved to be the separation they needed to pull away and take the game. He shot 5-8 from behind the Arc.
The Yellow Jackets came to play and played well enough to win the first half going in with the lead 32-27. But there is two halves of basketball it’s better to finish strong than to start strong in the second they suffered through a 5 minute drought and went 28% connecting on 10-36.
The bench comparison weighed in favor of Tech 19-0 due to the play of Tadric Jackson contributing 17 points as the sixth man. Josh Okogie wasn’t his normal self-making-13 shot attempts for a total of 5 points but he did get 11 rebounds. In his first two starts the freshman scored 18 points per game and was being mentioned in and about the names of some Georgia Tech Greats Kenny Anderson, Dennis Scott, Chris Bosh, and Mark Price as the best start for a freshman in a Georgia Tech uniform.
On Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie:
“I really think his future is extremely bright. I’m Captain Obvious here but he really stands out on tape and I think he is the kind of guy that you start to build your foundation for getting going here. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what we were going to do to take him away.
On what Ohio tried to do to contain Okogie:
“Shrink the court around him. I think going into the game, they had made seven threes. We really tried to make sure our help was a little exaggerated; our digs were a little bit exaggerated. But just as importantly with him, making sure we had multiple bodies out in front of him in transition because him and [Tadric] Jackson really could’ve posed us a problem if we’re playing them one-on-one in an open court. I don’t think we could stay in front of them in a one-on-one competition. We needed more bodies in there.”
The Bobcats Jaaron Simmons point guard Jaaron Simmons contributed 17 points and nine assists toward his team’s victory but it was the back to back three’s by Kiminski that created the gap.
“Tough loss but for us there were some positives, some negatives. We went in talking the entire time about you got to take the three out; we did a good job the first half. The second half No. 13 [Kenny Kaminski] got loose a couple times and hit a couple big shots which changed the complexion of the game. That was the big difference right there, Kaminski’s threes”, said Coach Pastner.
Georgia Tech managed to tie the game with eight minutes remaining in the game but when you play a team that connects on 7 three point shots in the second half at the right time in the game it’s just too much for a young inexperienced team to overcome. With all of their experience the game went back to zero at the 8:11 when it was tied up at 52. From there they scored 15 points and Tech scored 9 that indeed was the difference in the game.