Upset Just Layup Away

Georgia Tech Men's Basketball

Georgia Tech’s missed layup prevents upset over No. 9 Virginia Tech

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech nearly pulled off an upset over No. 9 Virginia Tech at McCamish Pavilion Wednesday night, but James Banks III missed what would have been the go-ahead layup with 35 seconds on the clock, and the Hokies left Atlanta with a narrow 52-49 victory to improve their record to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the Atlanta Coastal Conference.

The Thriller Dome was electric, due to head coach Josh Pastner’s efforts to lure the students in with the five TVs and three video game systems giveaways. Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets fell short of giving their supporters an astonishing upset win.

“The free stuff brought the students, and I thought the students were great and I thought the crowd was great,” Pastner said. “I feel sick to my stomach that we didn’t win for the students there

Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.

and for the crowd and for Georgia Tech, but electric atmosphere and just a high-level game.”

It was undoubtedly a disappointing loss, especially since Georgia Tech had many opportunities down the stretch to secure this victory. But there were some positives to build on for Tech, and there were also moments in the game that made you cringe. For example, after Brandon Alston’s layup with 3:25 on the clock in the second half that gave Tech a 49-47 lead, they gave up a three-pointer by Justin Robinson and trailed for the remainder of the game. Furthermore, they had another opportunity at the end of the game to tie or take the lead until Alston through the ball to his coach and teammates on the bench with three seconds remaining in the game. Game over.

Here’s what I saw during the game.

The good

Jose Alvarado is the streakiest shooter for Pastner, but he is also the most aggressive and dominant scorer the Yellow Jackets have on the roster. Against a Hokies team that does a great job of stunting defensively, Alvarado was able to tally 20 points on 6-for-11 shooting and 3-for-5 from long range. He had a stretch in the first half where he scored 13 consecutive points for Tech. Simply put, he had a solid performance in a significant game.

Tech’s defense was stout and aggressive the entire game, forcing the Hokies to shoot just 32 percent from the floor in the first half and 30 percent for the game.

“Georgia Tech played great. Josh [Pastner] is doing a really, really good job,” said Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams. “Defensively they’re No. 18 in the country in the numbers that matter.”

Pastner also eluded to the fact that his team played exceptional defense.

“We held them to 52 points, and they come in averaging 80. They’re one of the best offensive teams. I told my team we’re going to have to hold them in the low 50s to win and we did that.”

The only thing they failed to do was win, which leads to the bad.

The bad

Maybe Tech played so well defensively that they were too exhausted to play efficient basketball offensively. Maybe Alvarado was the only player locked in on that end of the court to produce buckets for the Yellow Jackets. Whatever the reason was behind the lack of offense generated by Tech, it cost them a win against a top-ten ACC opponent.

Aside from Alvarado, Abdoulaye Gueye was the only other Tech player to score in double figures (11).

“We held them to 52, I just thought we’d score more than 49, ” Pastner said. He wasn’t the only one to assume they would score more than 50 points on their home court. With scores in Alston (7 points), Michael Devoe (7 points) and Banks III (2 points), the Yellow Jackets should have been able to muster 53 points which would have been enough to pull off a miraculous upset.

It’s also worth mentioning that the team also shot poorly from the free-throw line. Tech shot 56 percent from the charity stripe (9-for-16).

“Well, Michael Devoe missed two front-ends of a one-and-one. There’s not that much you can do there. Those are four points. I mean Jose [Alvarado] was 5-of-8 from the free-throw line. He should be 7-of-8. I mean that’s six points right there. We have to make free throws,” Pastner said.

The Yellow Jackets (9-6, 1-1) will fly north to battle a streaking Syracuse Saturday at the Carrier Dome. A win against the Orangemen will give Tech a 2-2 record on the road.


Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.
Georgia Tech Men's Basketball
Jose Alvarado makes a move to the basket against Virginia Tech in McCamish arena . (photo by Dennis Morton Jr.)
Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.
Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.
Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.
Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.
Georgia Tech Guard Brandon Alston goes up for a shot
Georgia Tech Guard Brandon Alston goes up for a shot Photo by Dennis Morton Jr.

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