The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers in their opening game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 73-56. Despite a slow start by Georgia Tech in the first half, the team came out in the second half red hot. The Yellow Jackets improved to 4-2 on the year and started a 2 game winning streak.
“Good win for us…a little bit of an ugly game…bottom line a win is a win,” Head Coach Josh Pastner said.
So what stood out for Josh Pastner’s men in a game full of positives?
Michael Devoe and Moses Wright
Guard, Michael Devoe led the team in scoring with 26 points Wednesday night, shooting 10-16 from the field and 4-8 from the three-ball. Forward Moses Wright stepped up for the Yellow Jackets adding 18 points and 9 rebounds. With guard Jose Alvardo still healing an ankle injury, it’s huge for Devoe to step up and produce on the level he has.
For Wright, he ties his season-high, and was a spark for the offense, who saw the rest of the team struggle to score the ball. As the Yellow Jackets prepare to enter ACC play, if Devoe and Wright can produce stat lines similar to this, Georgia Tech will see immediate success against in a tough conference.
“Just playing my role, doing the little stuff, and just trying to help my team win any way possible,” Devoe said.
The defense was everything for the Yellow Jackets. The team opened up in a 1-3-1 zone, which also morphed into a 2-3 zone at times. The defense did a spectacular job shutting down Nebraska’s offense. They focused on forcing the Cornhuskers into shooting three-pointers and it paid off for the Yellow Jacket defense. Nebraska shot 23.1% from the three-ball, which they shot a total of 26 times.
In addition to this, Georgia Tech forced 18 turnovers. The culmination of these factors led Nebraska to have multiple 3-minute scoring droughts. With some offensive struggles being seen, it’s a must that the defense produces at this level for the Yellow Jackets to see success.
“We’ve been pretty good defensively all year long… it’s the one thing we can control cause that’s an effort,” Coach Pastner said. While they pulled out an 18 point win, there were still a lot of factors the team must improve on going forward.
Turnovers continue to plague Georgia Tech this season. The team finished with 16 turnovers Wednesday night, Devoe leading the team with 6 turnovers. This marks all six games where the team has had 10+ turnovers. With the majority of their games being close, it’s crucial the team comes together and figures out the problem before they drop important games due to this issue.
“Biggest thing is we had 16 turnovers… we just gotta be better in that area,” Coach Pastner said
Despite Devoe and Wright shooting the ball very well, the rest of the Yellow Jackets struggled to find success shooting the ball. Georgia Tech found a lot of success with penetrating Nebraska’s defense, but when the ball was either dished out for a three or floated towards the basket more times than not, it wasn’t going down.
The Yellow Jackets shot 5-23 from three-pointer, an even lower percentage than Nebraska. Also, the frontcourt struggled from inside with forward Khalid Moore shooting 2-9 and forward James Banks III shooting 2-6. While Devoe came to their rescue this time, the offense can’t put up numbers like this and expect to see success going deeper into this season.
Fouls began to add up for Georgia Tech, most in the second half. The team finished with 17 team fouls, and with Coach Pastner only going seven players deep, many players found themselves in foul trouble. Devoe, Banks III, Moore, and Parham all finished with 3 fouls, and Wright finished the game with 4.
These fouls allowed Nebraska to shoot a total of 18 free throws. Luckily for Pastner and his men, Nebraska shot 8-18 (44.4%) from the line, which is simply abysmal. Going forward the Yellow Jacket defense needs to limit fouls, as the outcome of the game could have been a different story had Nebraska hit their free throws.
Georgia Tech will get a crucial two days of rest, as they take on Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange Saturday, December 7th. The Yellow Jackets will look to go undefeated in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and continue their win streak to 3.