From the highest high of upsetting the former ninth ranked team perennial powerhouse North Carolina Tarheels to the lowest low of being throttled by Duke, the Jackets return home to the cold weather and frigid conditions of the south to face Rick Pitino and the high flying 9th ranked Louisville Cardinals. They got an assist from UPS allowing them to land at their terminal to make the game on time. “Brown Delivers again” this time it was a bunch of long legged basketball players. Remember #9 is techs favorite number. Pastner made the comment that someone told him “if he won one game in the ACC this year consider the season a success.” I wonder if they were referring to one of the top teams in the country like UNC. ACC Basketball makes the statement on any given day any team in the conference can take you out, so you better come to play. Don’t underestimate Pastner, this guy has something up his sleeves, that’s just one indication of where he is driven to take this program. He always says the margin of error is zero.
Today it remained true as Louisville got a bit of a scare from the jackets that had the brief thought of another upset in the second half but they refueled and put their feet to the metal and created some distance going down the stretch winning 65-50. Louisville’s largest lead in the game was 15 points when Donovan Mitchell nailed a 3 pointer at the 12:14 mark in the 2nd half. Tech caught fire tearing off on a 12-0 run to eat the lead down to 3 points at 40-43 on a Ben Lammers Tomahawk jam with an assist from Josh Okogie for the second time in as many trips down the court. The defender over played going for the steal, Okogie beat him to the ball and went into the lane forcing the center to commit to him so he dished it to Lammers for the momentum builder.
Ray Spalding the 6’10 sophomore caught one coming off the rim and threw it down rattling everything. Lammers responded with a jumper. Donovan Mitchell came back with a deadly 3 pointer making the statement “not today”. Louisville was up by seven points 49-42 and there was no need to look in the review mirror the race was really over. Mitchell led the way for the Cardinals with 20 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocked shots. He shot 5-7 from the 3 point line. He started the game on that left wing stroking it. Quentin Snider was second in command with 12 points and 3 rebounds. He also played the role of spark plug dishing 7 assists.
A slow start and lack of guard rebounding that lead to second chance points proved challenging for the Yellow Jackets prompting Head Coach Josh Pastner to say “for us, that first four or five minutes it was like the movie Jaws or something – you’re just on the ocean and all of a sudden Jaws comes up and just comes and eats you. Other than that we played great. We gave every ounce of effort and energy and we tried the best we could.” Ben Lammers perhaps the most improved player in the country gave the Louisville long body guys a fit scoring 24 points, 9 rebounds, all on the defensive boards, and 3 blocked shots.
“[Louisville head coach] Rick Pitino told me before the game that he’s the most improved player in the league by a mile, maybe the most improved player he’s seen in the last 10 years in college basketball. There was a big push going down the stretch but Tech ran out of gas as Louisville was just too long. Josh Okogie added 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Tech just didn’t get any more scoring for anywhere else. “We’re fighting like crazy, we’re just limited offensively. It’s hard for us. We need to find some other scorers and when Quinton [Stephens] and Tadric [Jackson] combined for 1-for-13 – and it’s nothing against those guys because Quinton is giving every ounce of energy that he has got, Tadric is trying – we just need another scorer. We need more scoring. It’s not pressure on them. It’s just the reality of the situation. We’re just too limited offensively that we’ve got to have guys score for us. I’ve said it all along, for us to win, we’ve got to get to 70 [points] or plus.
Up next for Georgia Tech is Clemson January 12, 2016, vs. Clemson, 7 p.m., McCamish Pavilion, Atlanta, Ga.