Tadric Jackson scores 1,000th point in win against Syracuse
By D’Mitri Chin
ATLANTA — It was a defensive battle at the McCamish Pavilion Wednesday night as Georgia Tech and Syracuse, two of the top three defensive teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, squared off in a low-scoring affair. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, Josh Okogie shouldered the load down the stretch, scoring 20 points and while leading his team to a 55-51 victory.
With the win against Syracuse (15-7, 4-5), Georgia Tech improved their record to 11-11, 4-5. Although the Yellow Jackets did not play as efficient a game as they would have preferred, they stay composed during the tough stretches and gutted out a win in front of a raucous home crowd.
“First off, a great win for us – a gutty win. We really defended well. I’m really happy we were able to get that win, especially with having another sellout today,” head coach Josh Pastner said.
“I wanted to make sure we got that win for the crowd. From start to finish, we really defended. We’ve been a very good defensive team here and then last week versus Florida State and Clemson, our defensive principles just weren’t there … Today we really guarded in the way that we should be guarding if we want to continue to move up the latter. I was proud of our defense.”
Without the benefit of watching film on the game, here is what I observed from Georgia Tech’s victory:
Control the paint
The Yellow Jackets were very effective against Syracuse’s tough 2-3 zone defense and was surprisingly able to score 30 points in the paint. Being that Tech only shot 33 percent from the floor and just 28 percent from the three-point line, those 30 points were crucial in them securing this win.
The key to Georgia Tech being able to score in the painted area was the high-low post play of Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson. Often, Lammers was able to find Jackson executing backdoor cuts on several possessions for easy layups. Not to mention, Lammers, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, was active on the offensive glass, which led to several second-chance points in the paint.
Jackson played a vital role in the Yellow Jackets pulling off an upset against Syracuse, in large part of his efficient scoring and awareness. He finished with 15 points, and a bulk of his points came from Syracuse’s defense allowing him to slip behind the zone for easy baskets. Jackson also eclipsed the 1,000-career points mark, which provided additional motivation for the Jackets to close out the game late in the second half.
“I was really proud of Tadric [Jackson] for scoring over 1,000 [career] points,” Pastner said. “He was ready to play; he was solid.”
The Yellow Jackets started fast and finished strong
Pastner’s team never trailed in the game, and it started with their defense. The Yellow Jackets forced Syracuse to commit 15 turnovers and converted them into 14 points on the other end. It is also worth noting that they only had nine turnovers and allowed Syracuse to score just four points off their mistakes.
“I thought we started the game well and then again we had some lapses here and there offensively. But we started well the second half, where we’ve had some issues starting the second half. That allowed us to get a little lead and get a little cushion.”
Head coach Jim Boeheim credited Tech’s defense for making it extremely tough for his players to get clean looks at the basket, but he also faulted his players for not converting on favorable opportunities.
“We just struggled on offense. Georgia Tech played good defense and made it hard for us,” Boeheim said. “We got some looks, some opportunities that we like, but we just didn’t convert. We’ve struggled scoring, and this was a classic example. We’ve got to be able to score better. Again, give Georgia Tech credit for their defense. We just have to find a way to get something down on the offense end. Our big guys have got to be more physical down low. That game was about offense, and we just didn’t get enough done down there.”
Up next for the Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech is 4-5 in the ACC which is good enough for 11th place in the conference. However, Pastner knows if his team plays well defensively and takes care of “the sucker” [ball] as they did against Syracuse, they will be a much better unit going forward.
“…we really took our time and only had nine turnovers,” Pastner said, “and when you make your free throws, and you don’t turn the ball over, when you have nine [turnovers] or less, you give yourself a chance. When you do those two things and guard at the standards that we’ve set forth, then we have a chance to win a lot of games.”
With a much-needed win against Syracuse, the Yellow Jackets will look to get a big win on the road against Boston College on Sunday.